The Kite Runnerby: KhaledHosseini Report by: Scott Gillespie
Loyalty One of the key themes of the Kite Runner story is loyalty, as shown in Amir’s loyalty to his father and to his nephew. When Amir and his wife are trying to have a child he wonders, “What sort of father would I make, I wanted to be just like Baba...” After Baba and Amir immigrate to America, their roles are reversed as Amir takes care of his father, the same way his father had cared for him in Afghanistan. Amir never questions his need to be there for his father because he is a loyal son. Sohrab is Hassan’s son and Amir’s nephew. Amir almost gets killed rescuing Sohrab from the bully, Assef. Only Amir’s loyalty to Hassan, and his need to redeem himself for his past betrayal of Hassan, kept Amir in Afghanistan despite all the hardships he endured rescuing Sohrab.
Betrayal “ I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. Something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked, saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles. I realized something else. I was weeping. From just around the corner, I could hear Assef's quick, rhythmic grunts. I had one last chance to make a decision.” (chapter 7) --- Amir betrays Hassan by not helping him, by never telling Hassan he saw what Assef did yet did nothing to stop it. - _______________________________________ “ I lifted Hassan's mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it. I waited another thirty minutes. Then I knocked on Baba's door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies.” (Chapter 9) — Amir cannot look at his friend Hassan anymore without remembering how he’d betrayed him by keeping silent. So Amir betrays him again, framing him for a robbery in order to make Baba send Hassan away.
Cultural Context • On Dec. 18 2007, there was a panel discussion about the impact of Afghanistan’s culture on The Kite Runner story. Click on the link below to hear it: • http://fora.tv/2007/12/18/Kite_Runner_A_Panel_Discussion#Kite_Runner_in_Cultural_Context • The author of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan in 1965. He lived in a city called Kabul and his family was considered to be wealthy. He based a lot of what he wrote in the novel on his memories of his own life in Kabal. In the 1970’s, the city was a mixture of ancient Afghani and modern Western cultures. Kite Running (or Kite Fighting) was a big wintertime sport in Afghanistan. Winning a competition was a big source of pride for the child’s entire family.
Kite Running • Before the Afghan War began, Gudiparan Bazi (kite running) was a hobby of many children in Afghanistan. It was a form of sport and of art. • It took two people to make a kite running unit (team). The leader flew the kite, while the charkha gir held the charkha (wire tube) so it didn’t tangle. The kites were made of thin paper on a bamboo frame. The tar (wire) was considered the most important part of the kite Kite flying in Afghanistan could be dangerous. The kite wire (tar) was quite sharp, often cutting the child holding it to the bone. In addition for a team to win a competition, the charkha gir had to climb on to roofs to get the best race views. Unfortunately, he sometimes got badly hurt when he fell to the ground while looking up at the skies trying to win a race. The design and size of each kite was a symbol of personal honor and the beginning of many neighborhood competitions. Most street blocks had their own Sharti (kite fight champion). This champion was always the child who held the kite (leader), the wire holder (charkha gir) was just thought of as a team member, not the true winner. Much like the kite running part of Hosseini’s book where Amir gets all the glory, while it was Hassan’s work that really won the race.
Cultural Influences in The Kite Runner The life of Amir, and the life of the Kite Runner author have many parallels. Clearly the author drew from his own experiences growing up in Afghanistan when he wrote the book. Hosseini and Amir both enjoyed kite running as children, and for both it served as a connection to their culture and their family. In Afghanistan and in the novel, kite running was a sport that was passed from father to son. A sport that connected fathers and sons as it allowed sons to earn their father’s respect by bringing pride to the family. Social class is a huge part of Afghani culture; this is seen in the novel as well. When Amir and Hassan participate in kite running their different social class is quickly apparent, as there is never any discussion about which boy will be the Leader and which will hold the wire. The boys are friends, yet neither would step outside the rules of Afghani class structure in the sport or in their friendship.