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Key Motifs and Symbols in Kite Runner

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by Luke Bishop on 1 February 2011

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Transcript of Key Motifs and Symbols in Kite Runner

Key Motifs and Symbols in Kite Runner Rape
Irony Cleft Lip How does the writer use motifs or symbols in the novel? Kites The Lamb Rape is shown throughout the novel, but the most important instance is when Hassan goes to catch the kite for Amir, but gets caught by Assef and raped by him. Due to Amir not doing anything he gains a sense of guilt for not aiding Hassan in his time of need. The rape scenes are key to the novel as Ithey highlight the characteristics of the main characters and in Amir's case give him a need for redemption. As a motif, rape is important as it is offensive to the victim's dignity as well as being physically harming. As we find out a person's honour is extremely important in Afghan culture and an act as severe as this would be belittling someone on a epic scale.
Amir's story in Kite Runner has many cases of irony in it. For a start he is told he can grasp the technique of irony in his writing from a young age by Rahim Khan. In my opinion the best use of irony in the novel is that Amir only realizes just how similar he is to Baba when he discovers Hassan is his true brother. The traits that they share are that they both hurt the people they care about i:e Baba hurts Amir and Amir hurts Hassan. Another use of irony is when Amir suffers for the pain he caused to both Hassan and Amir whereas Amir says he felt cleansed of his sins.

“My body was broken—just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later—but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed.” (p. 289)

The harelip in Kite Runner is another symbol that is very important in the novel. It is one of the most distinguishable features of Hassan in the opening chapters. There are many connotations of Hassan's harelip but the most important one is that it shows Hassan's class. It signifies his struggle within poverty and the low social class that a Hazara boy is associated with. It is also what separates him from Amir in being a perfect child in the view of Baba. You could infer that this is why Baba pays for a surgeon to perform an operation on it in order to signify his true but hidden love for him. Amir becomes similar to Hassan when Assef splits Amir's lip in the fight at the end of the novel.


"There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft."
Possibly the most important symbol to be featured in the novel Kite Runner is the kite. It appears only at the beginning and end to show the sins he comitted at the beginning have been redeemed. The kite is also used to contrast between his happiness as a child which soars high above the clouds to his guilt once it plummets down and leads to Hassan's rape. The kite is also the link in building a relationship with Sohrab. You could infer that the sins he has committed can only be redeemed through Sohrab hence when they are Sohrab starts to talk.

"Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”

The symbol of a sacrificied lamb signifies innocence in Christianity, Islam and the Jewish faiths. Both Hassan and Sohran are descibed as lambs waiting to be slaughtered by Amir. The first instance is when Amir describes Hassan like a lamb during his rape by Assef. Sohrab is also described as when due to the mascara put on him later on in the novel which is similar to that of the slaughtered sheep at Amir's birthday party. Hassan and Sohrab are both innocent characters and can be said to be sacrificied for a higher cause like the lamb. For instance Hassan is sacrificed for Amir and Sohrab for Amir's redemption against the sins he committed during his childhood against Hassan.

“I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.”
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