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Copy of The Kite Runner Study Guide
Transcript of Copy of The Kite Runner Study Guide
The novel The Kite Runner opens in San Francisco's Golden Park, which then flashes back to Kabul, Afghanistan and into small cities of Pakistan. Although most of the story is set in Kabul, the time frame of the novel covers roughly a time period of three decades. The author, Khaled Hosseini, uses the calm peaceful image of San Francisco as juxtaposition to the disorderly setting of Afghanistan in that age. In the childhood of the protagonist, Amir, Hosseini portrays Afghanistan as a beautiful world that was turned into a living hell by the Soviet invasion and the resulting war of this event. Idiomatic language is used a lot throughout the novel, helps to submerge the reader more within the culture and ideals of the book as well as to have an insight into the characters and the way their culture effects them. It also allows for suspense to be built or humour to be added to the moment by giving the reader a chance to assume the meaning of the word such as the use of (example example) or to not know what the word means straight away “‘I think I have saratan,’ I said. Cancer” This second use allows for suspense to be built around this word and within the conversation. As well as idiomatic language colloquialisms are used frequently in The Kite Runner. Many of the conversations in the novel are quite formal, especially the ones from Amir’s childhood. Despite this the conversations occasionally take on a more casual nature allowing for insight into the depth of relationships. Colloquialisms and informal language are used in the book as a way of demonstrating intimate moments and developments in relationships. Many of the conversations between Baba and Amir are more formal when compared to Hassan and Amir's conversations. Humorous language is not common in The Kite Runner; instead humour is portrayed through imagery and conversations. The Setting is NOT just a Backdrop
The setting in The Kite Runner introduces and helps convey themes throughout the novel, in this way it gives the reader an idea of what to expect next. In other words it maintains a level of suspense in the duration of the novel. The in depth description embraces the reader into the world of the characters, drawing them into the writer's vivid imagination providing a door to escapism. The setting brings the reader into the protagonist's, Amir, point of view and allows them to see and feel the world as Amir would have. The setting completes the feel of the entire novel, adding to the atmosphere and mood of the general setting. Images which become important motifs:
"But, always, my mind returned to the alley. To Hassan’s brown corduroy pants lying on the bricks. To the droplets of blood staining the snow dark red, almost black. " (Amir, pg. )
Amir spends his life trying to impress Baba and to gain his affection by proving to Baba that he was as brave and loyal as Hassan was.
Baba’s greatest fear was the coward in Amir. It is ironic that in Amir’s quest to Baba’s heart, he did the one thing that Baba feared the most.
He stood by while Hassan was raped and let the fact that he was of higher rank than Hassan have an impact on his judgement and became the coward that Baba was afraid he would become.
-Hassan was illiterate and yet initiated Amir's passion to write
“That was the best story you’ve read me in a long time,” he said, still clapping.
I laughed. “Really?”
“Really.” Colloquial, idiomatic and humorous language The Wider Context
The setting of the novel is heavily influenced by what's happening in the outside world and the wider context of the novel. Characters are not only influenced by other characters in the novel. Many are also influenced by other factors such as social issues, war, culture and religion. The Kite Runner is set in a time period where Afghanistan was, and still is, located in the middle of a major trading trail, the Silk Road. This mean they were frequently filled with bypassing foreign visitors. This may have caused friction between foreigners and citizens resulting in civil war and invasions of countries. War and conflict influence people in many ways. It reignites the notion of instability in the already delicate country causing citizens, such as Amir and Baba, to flee while others join the war movement in support for their country. The existing social beliefs in Afghanistan, as well as social hierarchy causing separation between the people, play a part in shaping the relationships in the novel. The Wider Context
There are two distinct social statuses highlighted and contrasted in the novel through Amir and Hassan. Amir, son of Baba, a wealthy business man and a Sunni Muslim, live a privileged life while in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was able to enjoy every social advantage of his status including being able to go to school and own luxuries such as books. Hassan, however, is a member of the Hazaras, a lower-class group identified by their distinct ethnic features. Although Amir and Hassan grew up together as close friends, Hassan acts as Amir's personal servant and during his childhood, Amir never forgets, as well as never letting Hassan forget the differences in their social class. Like Amir says 'In the end, I was Pashtun and he was a Hazara, I was Sunni and he was Shi'a, and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing.' (P.24). It is clear that Hassan understood this indifference but he was always ashamed to say that Hassan was his friend because of history and religion which all factor towards his social status. Amir's social superiority over Hassan was never questioned by either boys. Social Status in The Kite Runner
The social status between Amir and Hassan also affected their relationship. Amir never really thought of himself and Hassan as friends. They had grown up together, ate together and played together, but as stated by Amir early on in the novel '… I never thought of Hassan and me as friends...’ (P.24) There may have been many factors that affected this, including Amir's jealousy of Baba's relationship with Hassan and the lack of fatherly love that was demonstrated between Hassan and Ali. It shows that even the most intimate decisions in one's life are always influenced by social prejudice. Setting Affecting Mood
The Kite Runner was set in a time when there was conflict and war in the country. The Soviet Union had recently invaded and there was talk of rebellion against the invaders. This left an air of uncertainty throughout the novel. Sadness and the feeling of guilt are highlighted in the plot of the novel which revolves around the theme of betrayal. The mood in the novel changes quickly from contentment to misery and the atmosphere turns gloomy each time Amir betrays Hassan. Rhetorical questions of his relationships and existence, such as '… I always felt like Baba hated me a little. And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved little wife, his beautiful princess, hadn't I?’ (P.18), constantly haunt Amir when the feeling of guilt hit him. Amir often wonders why he is so mean to Hassan and although he regrets his actions, he cannot stop being like that, and in some instances Amir even tries to justify his actions. The phrase 'He was just a Hazara, wasn't he?' (P.73) is said by Amir after not helping Hassan when he was sexually attacked, is evidence of his justification. Similes which describe actions, motives or aspects of the setting
'Feeling like a man who finds a buried treasure in his own backyard’ –Amir (p.30)
Amir was fascinated that Hassan finds such joy in his reading.
'I felt like a soldier trying to sleep in the trenches the night before a major battle. And that wasn't so far off. In Kabul, fighting kites was a little like going to war.' –Amir (p.?)
Amir unable to sleep the night before the day of the kite flying tournament because the event that was to occur in the morning was the biggest highlight of winter for him.
‘my eyes stung from the fumes, like someone had peeled my lids back and rubbed a lemon on them.’ (p112-113)
The descriptive nature of the book remains throughout and is evident when Amir returns to Kabul and notices it to be the complete opposite. Symbols are still used for example, the kite at the end of the novel symbolises Amir and Sohrab's relationship. Flying the kite together showed they had some sort of positive relationship. Despite this the reflective nature of the storytelling means that Hosseini uses language that changes to match Amir’s emotions about certain events. At the start of the novel he describes everything with verbosity and a slight melancholy feeling but his sentences become shorter when the events are hard for Amir to reflect on. The language also changes throughout the novel as the emotions that Hosseini is trying to provoke change. The hope felt at the end of the novel from language like “...maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.” Is very different to that felt during the conflict with Assef when capitals are used to add intensity and harshness to his words “WHAT’S SO FUNNY” Metaphors which describe actions, motives or aspects of the setting
‘Kabul became a city of ghosts to me. A city of hare lipped ghosts’
‘My nose caught fire with each breath’
“Slaughtered Sheep Eyes” (pg.249) : A description of Sohrab
- Like his father Sohrab too is portrayed as a character going through immense pain Passage in which words are used to create a vivid picture
When Amir gets beaten up by Assef, when he tries to take Sohrab away from him (pg.252)
Use of short simple sentences to create visceral images:
The cold brass knuckles, and how fast they heat against the warmness of my blood
Ribs snapping like the sound off the branches
Like the ones he and Hassan used to break to play
Choking on my teeth
-The point where Amir finds his way towards being a good person again, his key to redemption
-To save Sohrab his half nephew he lets himself be beaten up by Assef
-He learns at this point what it means to be a loyal person
- Cleft lip
It is a symbol which implies that the past repeats of itself; first it is seen on Hassan, then his son
- The lamb
- Pomegranate tree
- Sling shot
- Pot Plant The conversations that are most dramatic are those that allow characters to truly express themselves. Those between two people in a private setting that really allow for the true underlying nature of a character to come through. This was shown in the conversation between Sohrab and Assef at the slingshot scene. It was the only conversation in the book spoken in capitals. "OUT! GET IT OUT!" This shows the intensity of the scene. Significant conversations Narrative Major and Minor Events
Amir win's the kite-fighting competition.
Hassan is raped by Assef and his gang.
Baba throws a party for Amir's 13th birthday.
Amir frames Hassan, making him look like a thief.
Hassan and Ali move out.
Amir and Baba flee to Pakistan and then eventually to America.
Amir meets Soraya and marries her.
Baba dies of lung cancer.
Amir visits Rahim Khan in Pakistan.
Amir goes to Afghanistan to try to save Sohrab (Hassan's son)
Sohrab attempts suicide.
What conflicts occur in the novel? Are they resolved?
The book is very heavily based on many internal and external conflicts. Each with major and minor relativity to the main plot of the book.
The main internal conflict is Amir against himself due to the set in of lack of confidence and regret from past experiences, choices and tolerating with settling in to the foreign country of America from a completely different cultural background. It can also be considered to be the main conflict in the novel. There are many smaller minor internal conflicts, such as Baba’s disbelief in Amir (‘If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe that he’s my son.’ Chapter 3 - p20) that helps to set the style and reinforce the main plot.
Many external conflicts are also present in the book. Ranging from minor ones where Hassan stands up against Assef with a slingshot for Amir to Baba’s fight with cancer. However the most significant external conflicts would be resolved around Sohrab. The scene where Amir confronts Assef in a brawl to save Amir is one of the most influential and is also the scene that sets up Amir’s resolution and redemption for his internal conflict. Ironically, Sohrab saved Amir from Assef with a slingshot just like his father did.
The resolutions for the internal and external conflicts of the book were confirmed during the end. In the last chapter (chapter 25) all internal regrets and wounds of Amir were greatly relieved and cured when he and Sohrab won a kite fight. Sohrab’s mouth curled up, starting to represent a smile and Amir’s inner thought of; ‘It was only a smile, nothing more.....But I’ll take it. With open arms.’ (Chapter 25 - p324). This does not mean there will not be further hardships along the road however ‘when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time’ (chapter 25 - p324). Being set in Afghanistan in the years just before the coup and Soviet invasion there is clear dramatic irony in the way Hosseini has written and the time period he has set the novel in. The reader is aware of the inevitable changes that the characters will have to face in terms of their country and way of life but none of the characters themselves are aware of this. The use of irony The style and how it changes The characters we feel sympathetic and apathetic for.
The two main characters that we feel a lot of sympathy for is the two Hazaras that live with Amir and Baba. Ali and Hassan serve Amir's family but this is only the precipice, there are even more reasons. For one, the general disrespect the Hazara's receive from the society is just plain cruel. Ali the father of Hassan, has to live with the indignity that his master whom he serves has fathered his son with his wife. Hassan on the other hand, acts much more like a very loyal friend and brother but still gets treated like a servant. He does this so much that he ends up getting raped for something that he didn’t benefit out of.
But we do feel apathy in the book, the Assef, the Taliban and the general Pashtun population, these characters general give out harshness that we see which drives us towards apathy towards them. Now Baba and Amir are on the line. They make us feel both apathy and sympathy, Amir for one in the beginning shows all the signs of a confused little boy who cause pain for Hassan, and Baba was the harsh father, but towards the end of the book, the lengths Amir goes to atone for his mistakes, and Baba also towards then end, struggles to give his son the best and this in any persons eyes should show sympathy. The characters in the Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini are teaming with different characteristics and features that make "us" (the readers) feel very specific emotions. Are the characters believable?
The characters are believable , though seen through Amir's perspective, the characteristics do seem to be realistic. There are a few points which do seem stereotypical like baba's nature and physical features and Assef ending up in the Taliban but other than that relatively realistic. Who is the protagonist?
The obvious protagonist of the story is Amir, he is the main character around which the story revolves. How does Amir develop?
Over time Amir develops from his nature to be being the coward and selfish person, from when he betrayed his best friend then indirectly having him leave to a person who went out of his way to atone for his mistakes and try to fix his past. Over time through the book he becomes a person worthy of calling a friend, just only a bit too late. The small important characters.
The minor characters of the story include Rahim Khan and Baba, in reality a lot of the events that occur in the story are indirectly because of these two minor characters. For example in the beginning Amir does a lot of the things indirectly because of his hunger to make his father Baba proud. Amir the boy to Amir the MAN.
By the end of the novel Amir is a man who can stand up for what he believes in, can accept that he has made some mistakes. He has gone from someone who let his friend raped to a person who saved a person by risking his life. By the end of the novel he is a person who can be considered a great man and most like a bigger man than his father. His father would have been finally proud. Subplots
Sub-plots which relate to the main action include;
Hassan’s harelip surgery. This shows how Baba always favoured Hassan over Amir.
Amir win's the kite-fighting competition. He entered the contest because he didn't just only like the sport, he needed to win the competition to earn his father's respect.
Hassan is raped by Assef and his gang. This main event shows Amir’s cowardice and how Amir lacks courage. He fails to defend Hassan when Hassan needed it most. Amir’s lack of courage is a recurring trait which is depicted throughout the novel.
Baba throws a party for Amir's 13th birthday. In this event, Rahim Kahn finds Amir and gives Amir his birthday gift. This event shows how Rahim Kahn was always fond of Amir and treated him more of a son than Baba treated him.
Baba sticks up for a woman who is about to be sexually abused by a Russian soldier. This event shows how Baba, throughout the novel, was always an honourable man and a man of morals. Baba would risk his life than to go against his morals.
Amir’s first novel is accepted. Throughout the novel, we see Amir striving to be a writer and when we see that Amir's first novel is accepted, we realise that Amir has finally achieved the dream he has been chasing for his whole life. A dream which was supported by some and unsupported by others.
Amir saves Sohrab. In this event, we see Amir returning to Kabul. Although returning Kabul did not make up for all of the negative and hurtful things Amir did to Hassan, Amir still managed to save Sohrab, his nephew. Throughout Amir's life away from Afghanistan, Amir hated himself for what he had left behind and for the death of Hassan. But when Amir brings home Sohrab, Amir has overcome fear, death, hate and guilt. By saving Sohrab, Amir redeems himself.
Chronological Order? Flashbacks?
The book starts in the year 2001 with Amir, the narrator, reflecting on his life, starting at his childhood back in Kabul, Afghanistan, describing every moment until the present day (2001). The technique of reflection seems to create a connection between the narrator and the reader. This gives a sense of sorrow and confession about the novel, and this allows the book to be seen as a tribute to his childhood best friend and brother, Hassan, which entices the reader to feel emotionally connected to Amir as the story of his life unfolds. Although the whole novel is basically a flashback, there are also flashbacks within it, such as at the start of Chapter 4, where the reader is informed of Baba’s childhood back in 1933.
The authors writing technique consists of many suspenseful events which mostly happen at the end of each chapter. This adds significantly to the fact that “The Kite Runner” is a ‘page turner’
Critical suspenseful scenes occur at the end of every chapter to entice the reader. Sohrab attempted suicide
An afflictive scene towards the end of the novel how Amir saw “the blood soaked razor sitting on the toilet rank” and the “bloody bathwater”. This moment is substantial in this novel because It really shows the amount of pain and suffering that Sohrab has been through at such a young age and his attempted suicide comes as a great shock to Amir.
Rahim Khan Realisation (Page 194)
A critical scene toward in which Amir finds that his whole life was a lie, a secret kept from him for thirty-eight long years.
“Ali was sterile,” Rahim Khan said
“No he wasn’t. He and Sanaubar had Hassan, didn’t they? They had Hassan--”
“No they didn’t,” Rahim Khan said
“Yes they did!”
“No they didn’t, Amir.”
“I think you know who.”
This causes Amir to bellow out in anger, hate but also regret. Here Amir realizes that Hassan was actually his half-brother. Joined by his father and the friendship between Ali and Baba, he finally realises why the relationship between Hassan and Baba was so strong. Hassan’s Death
This is a truly suspenseful scene where during Rahim Khan’s conversation with Amir about his half-brother, Hassan’s, Rahim sadly tells Amir that Hassan has been killed. The scene depicts Hassan who has been captured by the taliban and being executed by the taliban.
This was showed the political strife and prejudice against Hazzara’s in Afghanistan, and also becomes a truly breath taking moment in the book as Hassani had just shown the reader the strong father son and friendship bond between the Hassan and his son.
“No,” I breathed.
“--and order him to kneel--”
“No. God, no.”
“--and shot him in the back of the head.”
“--Farzana came screaming and attacked them--”
“--shot her too. Self-defense, they claimed later--”
But all I could manage was to whisper “No. No. No” over and over again. (Chapter 17)
This scene leaves the reader on the edge of their seats up to the final moment. The Telling of the Story
Amir, the protagonist, narrates the story from his childhood, including his memories of his beloved Kabul, to the present day where his life has been ruled by his demons from the past. Throughout the novel he switches between first person narration and an omniscient narrator. However in chapter 16 Rahim Kahn takes over and narrates for the whole chapter.
Reliability of the Narrator
Because Amir switches between a first person narrator and an omniscient narrator we get two different levels of reliability throughout the book. As a first person narrator, he tells us what happens at the time and what’s happening through his eyes. So the described events would be portrayed by a biased influence, whereas when he speaks in third person, he has had a chance to review past events and look at situations from many angles and perspectives. So in first Amir would be a less reliable narrator because his actions in the present are bias. His actions and specific events would be reviewed and thought out therefore being a much more reliable resource. It doesn’t matter who tells the story, everyone has their own bias opinion and views of any occurrence, so no story is told “truthfully” and true. Narrating About Events
Throughout the book the narrator comments on a few key events or places like the market and when he first meets Sorayah. He also comments on the actual country, Afghanistan.
How the story is told
Kabul’s recent history has been one of bloodshed and destruction. We don’t know much about Kabul before the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, so to have the story being told almost like it were being told orally, gives the story a more personal feeling. This personal connection with the characters allows us to enhance our connection to the rest of the story, settings and even the themes in the book. If the whole story were to be told in third person, the reader would not have the same connection with the characters and settings but because some of the book is told in third person there’s an almost a sense that Amir has had time to reflect on his past actions. Because this is a “confession” novel the reflective side of the narrator tells us that the writer has spent lots of time thinking about this issue and does want to resolve it.