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How Class Causes Conflict in The Kite Runner

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Kris Dionio

on 30 April 2014

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Transcript of How Class Causes Conflict in The Kite Runner

Due to the reputation of the Hazara caste, those born into it are perceived as an inferior species.
Pashtuns, such as Baba and General Taheri, belong to what is recognized as a superior ethnic group, thus they must maintain their reputation despite the fact that it may affect their well-being.
Belonging to a dominant sect results in negative connotations towards Hazaras.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Video Through a Marxist Perspective
School of Criticism: Marxist Theory
The Kite Runner
, it is shown it is common knowledge amongst Afghan people that Hazaras are a lesser ethnic group in comparison to the dominant, pure-blooded Pashtuns, thus violence against them is often excused.
How Class Causes Conflict in
The Kite Runner

The characters that belong to dominant ethnic groups, such as Amir and Assef, are the cause of the novel’s micro issues amongst characters and macro issues within Afghan and American society due to the shared belief that their superior social status absolves their wrongdoings.
The characters that belong to dominant ethnic groups, such as Amir and Assef, are the cause of the novel’s micro issues amongst characters and macro issues within Afghan and American society due to the shared belief that their superior social status absolves their wrongdoings.
Amir uses his religious sect's dominance in Islam as a means of rationalizing his decision to avoid confronting Hassan's attacker.

Amir feels that like a sacrificial lamb, Hassan "[...] sees that [his] imminent demise is for a higher purpose" (Hosseini 82).


Amir is a Sunni Muslim and a Pashtun, while Hassan is a Shi'a Muslim and a Hazara
Pashtuns/Sunni Muslims = majority
Hazaras/Shi'a Muslims = minority
Hassan belongs to an inferior ethnic group and is treated as a lower life form
As Amir's inferior, he is obligated to do what is in his power to serve him
Sacrifices are used to appease a cosmic being
Amir implicates that, in his situation, he is on the same tier as a god due to his ethnicity
Amir's willingness to sacrifice Hassan results in interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts in his household

The effects of Sunni Islam's superiority goes beyond that of Amir's personal conflicts and onto widespread oppression as a result of the Taliban; a fundamentalist political and militant group.
The Taliban believes that the infallibility of the Koran justifies violence and oppression.

Prior to the stoning that takes place in Ghazi Stadium, a cleric proclaims that, "God says that every sinner must be punished in a matter befitting his sin. Those are not my words, nor the words of my brothers. Those are the words of GOD!" (283)

Violence is used to oppress citizens and assert authority
Taliban views on genocide = cleansing
Worldwide view on genocide = immoral
In every religious practice, harming the life of another human is frowned upon
The Taliban uses religion to justify their actions by manipulating the Koran in their favor
They believe that they are the chosen ones; responsible for fulfilling the will of Allah
Results in a worldwide conflict
The Marxist literary theory deals with the effects of class divisions, the economy, institutions, and politics on society
Afghanistan's ethnic groups have dominance based on their numbers
Hazaras are a minority group, thus have less privilege than Pashtuns
Prejudice is rampant and perceived as common knowledge
Discrimination against Hazaras often results in the breaching of human rights
The Kite Runner
, two pivotal characters belong to differing ethnic groups
Amir, a Pashtun, expresses subtle prejudice towards Hassan , who is a Hazara
Socially and economically, the lives of a Pashtun and a Hazara differ greatly
Thus, Pashtuns in
The Kite Runner
believe that the superiority of their ethnicity justifies their actions
The prejudiced idea that Hazaras are inferior is taught to children who perceive it as a fact and act accordingly.

When Hassan tries to defend the blue kite for Amir's sake, Assef refers to Hassan as "A loyal Hazara. Loyal as a dog" (77)

Hassan will do anything for Amir (who is a Pashtun)
Hassan is considered inferior
Dogs are trained to serve their masters
Dogs are lower than humans in terms of evolution and biology
Hassan knows his place in society (person vs society conflict)

The dehumanizing of Hazaras is not a localized conflict because it fuels a widespread ideology that results in rampant violence and poverty.
The Taliban strips Hazaras and those of minority ethnicities of their human qualities as a means of asserting their superiority over them.

During Amir's return to Afghanistan, he speaks with a member of the Taliban that participates in a massacre of Hazaras. When referring to the deceased Hazaras, he says that "[they] left them out for dogs. Dog meat for dogs" (291).

To him, they are not like dogs, but are dogs
No respect for the dead or the loss of human life
They are only useful as a food source
Accentuates the perceived inferiority of the Hazaras
Results in a lot of social and economic issues
General Taheri is a Pashtun and avoids getting a job that may jeopardize his reputation.

The general is a Pashtun and as a result he "[...] had kept his family on welfare and had never held a job in the U.S., preferring to cash government-issued checks than degrading himself with work unsuitable for a man of his stature" (186).

He believes that he is far too superior for the jobs that are offered to him
He worked for the government in Afghanistan and may be reduced to a low-class job
He is used to looking down on others as a high-class member of Afghan society
In America, his identity as a Pashtun means nothing
After immigrating, his family has a tighter financial situation in compared to the wealthy lifestyle they had in Afghanistan
He cashes the checks to avoid being reduced to a menial job that will place emphasis on the fact that he is now a middle-lower class member of American society
General Taheri's idea of honour differs from Baba's, who favours a feeble job at a gas station over using food stamps to keep him and Amir afloat.
Baba believes that what an honourable person receives should be a result of the work that they put into it, thus he refuses taking any form of charity.

When Amir and Baba go to see their eligibility officer, she gives them a stack of food stamps to which Baba replies with, "I work always. In Afghanistan I work, in America I work. Thank you very much, Mrs. Dobbins, but I don't like it free money" (138)

Baba wants to work for what he owns
Differs from the general because he follows what he believes to be honourable, when General Taheri only wants to appear honourahle
Being a Pashtun, he is able to hold down a high paying job in Afghanistan
After immigrating, he has to start from scratch due to his lack of qualifications
He has to depend on a low paying job to pay for the apartment, Amir's tuition, and other necessities
He does not want to make excuses or be reduced to having to rely on charity so he chooses to work
He is in poor health and the job only makes it worse

Things to consider
Are the Pashtuns the only ones that follow the stereotypes of the class divisions?
What are some factors that may cause the class divisions to develop?
Does this excuse the Taliban and other Pashtuns from the actions that occur as a result of their prejudiced belief?
What is wrong with the power structure in Afghan society?
What has made countries, such as the United States of America, so successful? How does this compare to Afghanistan?
Assef uses his ethnic group's contrived supremacy to appropriate his attack on Hassan and absolve him of guilt and sin.

Prior to raping Hassan, he justifies his crime with the statement, "It's just a Hazara" (80).

He acquits himself from his crime by using Hassan's ethnicity as an excuse
He thinks that his action is appropriated by the fact that as a Hazara, Hassan should be inclined to respect and satisfy him
The rape is not only an act of violence - it is also an act of violation
Assef is undoubtedly content with the status quo that exists within their community and, by attacking Hassan, he ensures the power that a Pashtun bears remains at hand
Although this is on a small scale, it can be used to represent the power structure amongst the differing ethnic groups on a much larger scale
Assef and his class based ideology is shared by many others who are more than willing to execute immoral acts while living under the guise of righteousness.
Members of the Taliban believe that killing who they see fit is for the greater good of Afghanistan, thereby exonerating themselves from their wrongdoings.

A Talib man describes how he perceives himself during the massacre of Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif: "[...] [I] let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, knowing that [I am] virtuous, good, and decent" (290).

He believes that what he is doing benefits Afghanistan
What he does is immoral, but because the Hazaras are despised his acts are excusable
Since killing the Hazaras is believed to benefit Afghan society, he perceives himself as a hero
As a Pashtun, it is his duty to cleanse his country of what he finds befitting
Through this complex, the Talib man feels it is ethical to attempt oppressive acts of violence against the Hazaras in order to create a utopic society among the Afghan community, solely to purity and regenerate Afghanistan once again.
Works Cited

Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan.
2009. Panjshir Valley.
Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan
. N.d.
Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

N.d. Wired. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Hazara children.
Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Food Stamps.
Web. 28 Apr. 2014.

Al Jazeera English.
Afghanistan's most neglected minority - 06-Nov-07.
Al Jazeera, 2007.
Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
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