“The Kite Runner” “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini is a very powerful novel. While it is not a book that I would normally read, I found myself intrigued at every turn of the page. It tells a story of betrayal, cruelty, love, political turmoil, and at times it is very disturbing.
Not often are those elements presented in a novel that I would read. Knowing next to nothing about Afghanistan made the novel more attractive to me. It educated me a great deal on the perils of this country during the Soviet invasion, and more recently during the Taliban takeover. The setting began in about 1975 and spanned thirty or so years.
The protagonist of the novel is Amir, the main character. The antagonist is Assef, the cruel, brutal bully that destroys the lives of the main characters. There are several themes in the book: Fathers and Sons, atonement for sins, betrayal, loyalty, friendship, discrimination and classism. These themes are prevalent throughout the novel and are not neatly tied up at the end, contrary to my belief when I began reading. While political events play an important role in the novel, it is more about the unlikely friendship of a wealthy affluent businessman’s son and the son of his faithful servant. The lives of the two boys are so closely intertwined that they are destined to be destroyed.
The book focuses on the sacrifices both shameful and heroic that the two friends face. The servant boy, Hassan, does not harbor any ill feelings toward his friend, Amir, even thought in their culture, even as young children, they are considered servant and master.The fragility if their friendship is symbolized in the title of the book. The kite is fabric and sticks held together with string, and the friendship is represented in almost the same manner. Held together by loyalty and honor, but easily shattered. A kite runner is a sort of spotter in the sport of kite fighting.
In a kite fight, competitors coat their kite strings in glue or tar and ground glass, to cut and destroy their rivals' kites. While the fighter's kite is swooping in an effort to rule the skies, his kite-running partner is racing to own the streets, chasing down all their opponents' sinking kites. Learning about the culture of the Afghanistan’s was very interesting to me.
Not only did the novel focus on the separation of political parties, but also of social class, race and religion. Amir is served breakfast every morning by Hassan; then he is driven to school in the family Mustang while his friend stays home to clean the house. Amir is educated and Hassan is illiterate. Hassan is not expected to receive an education in their culture. Only the rich are educated.
Hassan protects Amir from sadistic neighborhood bullies; in turn, Amir fascinates.