YAMAT, Chaney M.
1Pol1 Rm. 103
Prof. Rachel Lintao
English – Fiction Book Report May 14
The Kite Runner
The novel is set in Afghanistan in the 1970s¬—with the portrayal of the Afghan traditions and culture that depicts life during pre-revolutionary Afghanistan, before the immigrants started to mourn the loss of their country and later shows the struggle of both father and son to start building an American life.
Chapter Summary 25 chapters
The Kite Runner starts with Hosseini’s privileged young narrator, Amir. He briefly recounts memories of when he was at the age of twelve, in the winter of 1975 and how that memory has helped him become who he is now. He also includes a recent phone conversation with his old friend, Rahim Khan who also reminded him not only of his life in Kabul but of his past unatoned sins, the differences between Amir and Hassan’s life, the harelipped kite runner who would later be a thread that ties the book together.
Amir recalled the early days of his childhood with Hassan, the days they have spent together, through the rough and happy days. As well as the time where Hassan’s father, Ali, met Sanaubar, his mother and how she had left them days after she gave birth. However, he recalls what his father, Baba, told him about the brotherhood he and Hassan has formed since they were nursed and fed by the same woman which created a special bond between them.
Amir tries to assess the kind of man his father is—from the orphanage he built to the close relationship he has with Hassan and his perspective or stand on things like classifying all kinds of sins are just a variation of theft. Baba’s disappointment on how Amir is as a young man and how greatly different he is from him, Amir’s passion for literature and not with sports or physical activities, during the same occasion Baba talks to Rahim Khan of what he thinks about Amir and feel that he won’t be able to stand up for himself as well as for others which Amir hears from behind.
It starts with the time when Ali who was orphaned lived in the house of Amir’s grandfather and became playmates with his father but does not fully refer to Ali as his friend considering their differences in race, religion and culture which is similar with Amir and Hassan’s relationship. Although they are aware of their differences, this does not hinder them from doing kind things for one another, for instance, whenever Amir would read out to Hassan the story of Rostam and Sohrab from their favorite book, “Shahnammah”, a story of a man that kills his son without knowing that they are related and where he would occasionally change some words that Hassan does not recognize which makes him guilty also and tried to redeem himself by sharing one of his stories to Hassan to which Hassan praises him but points out a plot hole in his story and drives him mad but again, redeems himself by giving him broken and used toys and clothes.
Amir, Hassan, Baba and Ali gather together for support since the war has begun and signals the start of changes in their lives, likewise, Amir also sees the fatherly figure that Ali has over Hassan which he does not see in his father but refuses to recognize the building jealousy in him. The next few days, he and Hassan try to climb a tree and meet Assef during the days of the coup that also signals destruction and violence since he also starts mocking Hassan and call his father “Babalu” to which Hassan tries to fight him with a slingshot and Assed responds that “This does not end today.”. When they get home, Hassan is surprised with an unusual birthday gift—a plastic surgery for his cleft lip, a gift designed to last forever and allows Hassan to smile but is forever changed the following winter of 1975 that also signal another important event in Amir and Hassan’s lives.
Amir and Hassan prepare for the annual kite fighting tournament which according to Amir is the only thing that connects him with his father and hopes to be the champion of the tournament and starts imagining things that he and Baba will be doing after winning, to which Hassan wholeheartedly helps him out until the end showing that he is a genuine friend and an ideal brother. They play a card game where Amir wins against Hassan but feels that he only let him win out of the brotherly love and respect they have for each other. The card game showing how Hassan still feel inferior to Amir and that he will never let him down despite the circumstances he might face in the future.
The kite fighting tournament is briefly discussed and shows how Amir and Hassan are better kite fighters than kite makers and making Hassan the assistant and the one running after the fallen kites especially the last fallen kite which is the most desired prize, hence a “Kite Runner”, something Hassan is known to be best with.
Baba and Amir visit their relatives for the traditional Afghan Feast and Baba proudly talks about the Kite Tournament, which makes Amir uneasy since that day changed everything and made Amir and Hassan slowly grew apart, partly because he was still bothered of what he saw and felt guilty since he couldn’t help and protect Hassan from Assef and his group of friends. Baba also arranged a birthday party for Amir where Hassan and Ali served the other guests which include Assef that infuriated Amir even more and led to a point where he asked his father if they aren’t allowed to get other servants, his way of protecting Hassan.
Rahim Khan gives Amir a new notebook for him to write all his stories since he knew something was bothering him though he couldn’t say it out aloud and Ali gives him a new copy of the “Shahnamah”, his favorite book to read together with Hassan which makes him more guilty and pushes him to put the money and watch under Hassan’s mattress as a part of his plan, likewise, this shows that Amir allowed Hassan to be raped in part because he thought bringing home the kite would win him Baba’s love, relieving him of his guilt over his mother’s death and making him happy, however, Amir realizes Hassan saw him during that night in the alley, and he knew also that Amir was setting him up now but still says he did it. The turn of events makes Baba still choose to forgive Hassan and make them stay but Ali refuses.
The war has greatly changed and damaged Kabul over the five-year gap that happened ever since the war started in 1978, Amir also mentions his and Baba’s terrible journey on the way into Peshawar, Pakistan. Baba remains true to his stand, values and beliefs, likewise, that time during their journey where he helped a woman and Kamal who was almost raped by the Russian guards which shows how the rule of law has essentially been damaged but there are some people who will remain true to themselves and prove that it is still important to act with dignity and do what is morally right.
Forward in time, Baba and Amir are in Fremont, California, Baba loved the idea of America but having lived in America for almost two years gave him Ulcer and it clearly shows that they both feel disconnected from everything. Amir graduates from high school and is given an old Gran Torino to which he uses to drive to the ocean and tells Baba that he has made up his mind where he wants to pursue a literature course which Baba greatly disapproves. Amir thinks of America as a place for him to try to forget the past, an opportunity to become better, to try to atone for his sins, however, he clearly is still haunted by the past.
Amir is still persistent to build a relationship with Soraya despite knowing her father General Taheri is a very strict person and is also faced with another problem concerning his father, Baba, who is suffering from cancer. However, as Baba becomes weaker, Amir has finally mustered up the courage to ask for Soraya’s hand in marriage to which General Taheri agrees since he and Baba are both Afghans. Soraya also shares to Amir that she once ran away from home with an Afghan man which infuriated her father but this secret from the past is accepted by Amir.
With Baba getting much weaker, he and Amir go to the Taheri’s home to have a traditional ceremony of “giving word” which makes the General happy and proves that they are doing it correctly and he is wrong to think of Amir to be similar with all the Afghan men. Amir pleads with Baba to try chemotherapy and asks what he is supposed to do without Baba but he replies that this is what he has been trying to teach Amir his whole life, he was preparing Amir to take care of himself and to know right from wrong. He marries Soraya and shortly after, Baba dies and the time has come that Amir is now becoming a man and becomes fully responsible for himself.
Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan who is very ill and simply tells him that he needs to go to Pakistan and that there is a way to be good again, a way to atone for his sins, face the ghosts of his past. He thought about going back to Pakistan and if he is ready to face the ghosts of his pasts as well as use the time to think if he is already ready for the idea of fatherhood. The night after the phone call Amir dreams about Hassan running the kite for him screaming, for you a thousand times over.
A week after the phone call conversation with Rahim Khan, Amir books a flight going to Pakistan, shortly after, he arrives at Rahim Khan’s apartment and see that he looks thin and ill. They catch up on the great amount of time they have missed and share that he is now a married man, Baba’s death and his career as a novelist. Rahim Khan tells him how much Kabul has changed ever since the Taliban took over as well as the scar near his eye, the time where he stayed at Baba’s house, hoping they would come back, as well as, not living alone in Baba’s house because Hassan was with him.
The story shifts to Rahim Khan’s perspective when he tells Amir that he found Hassan and also mentions the year 1986 when he went to Hazariat and saw Hassan now a fully-grown man living with a woman named Farzana. Rahim Khan asked Hassan and his wife to live with him back in Kabul since he was too old and lonely to take care of Baba’s home but he declined since he now considers Hazariat as their home. However, when Hassan learns about Amir’s life and Babe’s death, he and Farzana consider going back to Kabul but stayed at the servant’s quarters out of respect, also, Sanaubar returns and gives birth to Hassan and Farzana’s second child with the first one who died.
The story shifts back to Amir’s perspective, reminiscing his early days with Hassan, moreover, Rahim Khan hands him an envelope containing a photograph of Hassan and a letter saying that the Kabul they used to know is gone and a story about Farzana getting hit by the Taliban just because she raised her voice to an almost deaf man. Rahim Khan also says that he received a call from Kabul that a month after he arrived in Pakistan, the Taliban had gone to Baba’s house and found Hassan and his family there and was shot except for the little boy, Sohrab who was sent to an orphanage. Amir then realizes that he has to take in Sohrab but cannot go personally to Kabul, however, Rahim Khan mentions that it is not just about getting Sohrab and the money but because he knows why he must go and also tells Amir that Ali was not able to have children which indirectly says that Baba is Hassan’s father but he never knew because it was a shameful situation.
As Amir storms out from Rahim Khan’s house, he tries to remember all the memories he has of Baba and Hassan to serve as evidence that he and Hassan are really half-brothers, from the moment Ali and Hassan left which made Baba weep and when he told Amir that he stole from Baba a brother and Hassan’s identity and Ali’s honor. Amir then realizes that he and Baba are similar since they both had their most loyal and genuine friends with them but still choose different paths—the betrayal of their best friends. Amir now calmer, returned to Rahim Khan’s house and realizes that he still has the time to save and fight for a small part of what remains of Hassan which is Sohrab and to atone for his and Baba’s sins.
Rahim Khan arranges a ride for Amir back to Kabul after twenty years with the help of his acquaintance named Farid who had lost most of his family to the Soviets. Amir meets Farid’s family including his brother Wahid and is invited over for dinner where he is joined by his children whom he assumed was staring at his watch so he gave the three children his watch. Farid also mentions that it was wrong of him to assume that Amir would choose to fly to back to Kabul for a different reason other than to fight for Sohrab. However, after dinner he overhears Wahid and his wife arguing that the food they were supposed to eat was supposed to be their dinner and Amir realizes that the children were staring at his food and not his watch which gives him the idea to leave money under their mattress.
On their way to Kabul, Amir and Farid see the destruction and how much the place has changed due to war, even the presence of the Taliban whose now in control. They arrive at the orphanage where they think Sohrab is and meets the director named Zaman who was very cautious until Amir tells him that he is Sohrab’s half-uncle, although, mentioning that Sohrab is in the hands of another Taliban official who comes once or twice a month and gives money which makes Amir furious but realizes that Zaman allowed for this to happen to feed the other children as well. Likewise, if Amir really wanted to save Sohrab he could go to the stadium where the Taliban will be doing terrible acts according to the director.
Amir and Farid drop by Baba’s house and see it falling apart like the nightmare in his dreams but is still recognizable— from the windows where he watched Ali and Hassan leave to the pomegranate tree where he and Hassan carved their names together with the carving “The Sultans of Kabul”, now persistent than ever that he does not want to forget things and move on but instead fix and try to save of what is left of him, Ali, Baba and Hassan. He and Farid drove all the way to the Ghazi Stadium to try to get Sohrab but witness something horrible where the Taliban kill several people and just pile up the bodies and see that the one officiating it is the person they are looking for and try to set up a meeting with the Taliban official who got Sohrab.
Amir and Farid arrive at the place where they are told to meet the Taliban official, wishing that Baba was there to support him, with his thick and strong personality. He was thinking of worst case scenarios—dying and making Soraya a widower at the age of thirty-six but is soon cut off when he sees the John Lennon guy during the horrible incident that took place at the stadium. The guy with the fake beard starts talking about random things including one that Amir was familiar with—the massacre of Hazaras and abruptly stops to ask what Amir wanted from him to which Amir replied, “The boy.”, referring to Sohrab who was motioned to go out and was seen wearing a blue silk outfit, being asked to dance. The Taliban official ask Amir whatever happened to Babalu, a name only Assef used to call Ali who was Sohrab’s grandfather and realizes that the official is Assef.
Stunned by the fact that Assef is standing in front of him, Amir tells him that he would pay him for the boy to which Assef replies that he would give the boy if he gets out of the house successful from an unfinished business they had—a fight that would have occurred back in their childhood if only Hassan did not intervene and used his slingshot, threatening Assef. Amir tries to assess if he gave Assef a good fight while he was being helped by Sohrab and Farid out of the house. He wakes up in a hospital and is handed a note by Rahim Khan, saying that he knows what happened with Hassan and that we he did was wrong; however, he was too hard on himself and he is aware that he suffered because of how Baba treated him but there was a reason. Amir also learns that there was never really an American couple where he could leave Sohrab but realize that he is willing to return to Soraya with Sohrab and take him as their son.
Sohrab goes missing the next day and Amir might know the place where he can find Sohrab since he remembered that Sohrab was fascinated with mosques and find him. They talk about Sohrab’s parents and ask him if he was willing to go to America with him, although, Sohrab did not fully agree just yet, days after he asks what San Francisco is like and makes Amir promise that he will never allow anything or anyone to take him back to an orphanage. The next day, Amir explains everything to Soraya and go to the American embassy to fix the adoption papers since Soraya was more than willing to take care of Sohrab, however, he is hit with a devastating news that pushing for an adoption is almost impossible and he tries to explain this to Sohrab.
As soon as Sohrab absorbs it in his head that the adoption is almost impossible, he screams and locks himself in the bathroom, thinking that Amir broke his promise, however, when he tells Soraya, she tells him that a family member can pull some things for Sohrab once he is in San Francisco to keep him in but it was too late since he finds Sohrab bleeding and unconscious. A few months after the incident, Sohrab never spoke to anyone and they all feel that they are somehow still waiting for the snowflakes to melt one at a time since Sohrab never really did agree nor disagree if he’d still like to go to America since he also had no choice, likewise, he and Amir are family after all. Months and seasons passed by with no words coming out from Sohrab’s mouth, until the time when Amir took everyone out on a cool rainy day at a Lake in Fremont to a gathering of Afghan’s—including the feasts and traditions they practice like Kite Flying. Amir showed Sohrab how to fly a kite, what Hassan’s favorite trick was and if he wanted to fly the Kite for Sohrab, where he nods and smiles the same lopsided smile Hassan always had, and says, “For you, a thousand times over.”
The Kite Runner focused on fierce and cruel love between fathers and sons; how Baba would always try to make Amir do things that he thinks would make him a man, although on the other hand, he would also try to show his love and affection for Hassan by simply giving him gifts and comparing him to Amir. It also focuses on forgiveness and a recurring motif in which the characters, especially Amir, would reminisce and try to find redemption which also reminded Amir of his past unatoned sins which has also helped and affected him and made him who he is now. It also focused on politics and class issues that are deeply rooted and connected with each other which also helped build the characters personality.
The events in the story were carefully written and thought of—from the use of the seasons that symbolizes how each of the main characters are feeling, the rich culture and traditions that the Afghan’s had that also helped build up most of the stories significant high and low points. The use of the significant event with what happened to Hassan since Baba and Amir left for Pakistan, deeply tie together several of the book’s thematic elements: the pain of guilt, the hatefulness of difference in races, the challenge of acting against injustice, the value of loyalty, the love as well as the discord between fathers and sons, and the role history plays in private lives.