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The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini
Transcript of The Kite Runner- Khaled Hosseini
Background to the Novel
First Afghan novel to be written in English
Over 9 million copies sold worldwide
Translated into over 25 languages
Is on the list of “Banned and Challenged Books”
Kite Running is a popular Afghan pastime.
Khaled Hosseini was born in 1965 in Kabul, Afghanistan
Moved to the US in 1980
Graduated from med school in 1996
The Kite Runner is Hosseini’s first novel.
The Kite Runner opens in Kabul in the mid-1970s. Raised in the same household but separated by class, Amir and his best friend Hassan are inseparable until a tragic event changes their relationship forever. Their intertwined lives and their fates reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them
The story takes place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and America.
Early 1970s to early 2000s
Time and Place
This chapter begins in December of 2001. Amir recalls the exact moment that was to forever shape his destiny. He says he was twelve and crouched in an alley, and that he has never been able to fully bury that day in his past. He now lives in
San Francisco and he ends a phone call and takes a walk, noting the kites in the air at Golden Gate Park. Amir sits and thinks back on his past and the day that made him into the man he is now.
The time flow is chronological except for the first chapter. This chapter takes place in 2001 and the author then drops back in time to the 1970s and the story moves forward from there to 2001. There is a great deal of foreshadowing in this first chapter, which is very brief. Several characters are mentioned though it will be several chapters before the reader meets some of them. It should be noted that the story is written entirely in first person from Amir's perspective which means the reader may get some skewed information. Amir seems to judge himself harshly in some situations though the reader learns that it's because Amir failed to stand up for Hassan in a moment that was vital to both of them. From Amir's perspective looking back almost three decades, he judges himself based on that failure though that failurehasn't even yet happened as Chapter 2 opens.
Rahim Khan is introduced only briefly in Chapter 2, but his importance as a character is hinted even in this brief
introduction. Amir describes many aspects of the house including a photograph of Amir as a baby with his father and
Rahim Khan. Amir says that his father is holding him "but" Amir is clutching Rahim's finger.
There is some discussion of Sanaubar and Ali and how their marriage happened. Sanaubar is a beautiful young woman.
Ali had polio as a child and he has a "twisted, atrophied" leg that makes his walk a subject for unkind people to ridicule.
Apparently, even Sanaubar joined in the tormenting. Ali is a kind man who withstands the taunts without obviously
reacting. Some people believe that Ali agreed to marry Sanaubar because her family lack respect and it was hoped that he, as an honorable man, might help in that regard. Sanaubar attracts a great deal of male attention. It's only much later that this information takes on another level of interest. Amir eventually learns that he and Hassan are half brothers.
There's no indication how Baba and Sanaubar came together or whether Ali knows, but it seems possible that Ali is
impotent because of the polio. There's also no indication why Sanaubar leaves but it may have been that she's unhappy
living in the little hut in the back while her lover and the father of her son is living in a mansion.
There is a deep connection between the two boys from birth. They are fed by the same wet nurse and Amir says his father reminded him often that a bond of that kind cannot be ignored or broken. Amir also says that his first word was "Baba," referring to his father. Hassan's first word was "Amir."
Amir's relationship with Baba is also described in the opening pages. He desperately wants Baba's love and attention. On the rare moments when they connect, Amir is elated though it always ends badly, at least in his opinion. It's also noteworthy that Amir is jealous of his father's time. He occasionally lies, saying Hassan can't join them on an outing so
that he'll have his father to himself.
In Chapter 2, Amir and Hassan are children together. They spend time playing as young boys did in this time in their Afghanistan home of Kabul. Hassan has a harelip and is teased unmercifully by the other children. Hassan's father, Ali, chastises the boys when he catches them at mischief and Hassan never reveals that the mischief is always Amir's idea. Amir and his father, who he calls Baba, live in a nice house in a wealthy neighbourhood. Hassan and Ali, servants of the household, live in mud huts in the back. Baba's best friend and business partner is Rahim Khan. Hassan is one year younger than Amir. Amir's mother died in childbirth. Hassan's mother, Sanaubar, ran away a week after his birth. Hassan
never mentions his mother but a midwife said Sanaubar had taken one look at Hassan's cleft lip and declared him an idiot to match Ali.
Amir says his father had once wrestled a black bear. He says the story might have been put down to the tendency of the
Afghan people to exaggerate but the fact that it was Baba means the story is true. In the late 1960s, Baba builds an orphanage, financing and overseeing the entire project.
One day Amir comes home from school after having been told by a teacher that drinking is a horrible sin. He relates that to his father who is having a glass of whisky. Baba tells Amir that there is only one serious sin - theft. He says there are versions of that sin, such a lying because that robs someone of the truth, and murder because that robs someone of life.
Baba says the teachers are "bearded monkeys" and that Amir will not get a true education from them. Baba then says that "if there's a God out there," He has better things to do than to worry about someone who drinks liquor.
Chapter 3 continued
Amir says he knows his father is disappointed in him. Baba often ignores Amir's conversations. Once Amir says he has cancer and Baba tells him to get a soda. Amir believes Baba hates him on some level because Baba's beautiful wife died in childbirth giving life to Amir. Amir says he is nothing like his father and prefers the written word to the pursuits Baba enjoys, such as hunting. One day, Amir hears Baba talking with Rahim Khan. Baba says there's "something missing" in Amir. Rahim Khan says Baba doesn't get to make Amir into what he wants and that there's nothing wrong with Amir. He
says all that's missing in Amir is "a mean streak." Baba says doesn't stand up for himself when the neighborhood boys pick on him, letting Hassan defend him. Baba predicts Amir will become "a man who can't stand up to anything." The
following morning, Hassan is preparing Amir's breakfast and asks what's wrong. Amir snaps at Hassan and realises he's being mean, though Rahim Khan had said Amir doesn't have what it takes to be mean.
1. What is the significance of the past for the narrator?
2. What physical feature marks out Hassan?
3. Is it significant that Rahim Khan is mentioned 3 times but Baba only once and even then only
after Rahim is mentioned?
4. Compare the opening and closing lines of the chapter.
1. How does the narrator introduce Hassan?
2. Compare the second paragraph on p.5 and the fourth paragraph on p.9. What do these paragraphs suggest about the relationship each boy has with their father?
3. The boys’ lives run parallel to each other, how are they similar and how different?
4. The themes of childhood and friendship are important in this chapter. Can you identify another theme the author wants us to notice?
5. What is the effect of only finding out the narrator’s name at the end of this chapter? What is the significance of the revelation?
1. Choose one quotation to describe Baba.
2. Is Amir’s father a religious man? A moral man? Is there a difference between these two things?
3. In what ways does Hosseini encourage the reader to be critical of Baba in this chapter?
4. Rahim and Baba each view Amir in a different light. How do each of them see him, and based on what you have read so far, who do you agree with?
Amir recounts the story of how Ali came to be a member of the household. Amir's grandfather was a judge in 1933, the year Baba was born. A pair of men had struck and killed a couple leaving their five-year-old son an orphan. That boy was Ali and Amir's grandfather had taken the boy into his house. Amir says Baba has many stories about the mischief he and Ali caused as children. Ali says Baba came up with the ideas and he merely carried out Baba's plans.
Each day during the school year, Hassan does chores while Baba drives Amir to school in his black Ford Mustang. After school, Amir and Hassan head to an abandoned cemetery where they eat pomegranates from a tree and Amir reads to Hassan. One day Amir stops reading the story in the book and begins making up a story instead. When he's finished, Hassan applauds, saying he liked the story very much.
Chapter 4 cont.
Amir is amazed at the discovery and that night he writes a short story about a man who learns that if he cries into a magic cup the tears turn to pearls. In an effort to make himself cry, he goes to extremes, eventually killing his wife. Amir takes the story to his father's study where Baba isn't interested but Rahim Khan asks to read it. When Rahim Khan returns the story, he's written a note of encouragement, saying Amir has talent. Then he and Baba leave for the evening. When Amir reads it to Hassan, he echoes the praise, predicting Amir will someday become a famous writer. Then Hassan points out that the man might have simply smelled an onion and Amir notes that he learned about the "plot hole" from Hassan, who couldn't even read. Moments later, "Afghanistan changed forever."
There are bombs exploding and the sound of gunfire. Ali appears and says someone is duck hunting. Amir notes that the generation of Afghani children who are familiar with constant gunfire has not yet been born. Baba doesn't return until the following morning. Hassan and Amir remain inside all morning but eventually head out to play. They encounter a neighborhood bully named Assef and his friends, Kamal and Wali. Assef talks about the new order of things in Afghanistan since the coup of the previous night and predicts there is no room in the country for Amir's race. The situation turns violent but Hassan pulls out a slingshot and threatens to put Assef's left eye out. Assef and his friends leave.
A couple of years pass. One year, Baba buys the surgery to fix Hassan's cleft lip as a birthday gift. The surgery is a success and Hassan is soon able to smile normally. As the chapter comes to a close, Amir notes that this is the year Amir stops smiling.
Winter arrives. Every youngster in Kabul loves winter because school is closed for the season and it's time for kite flying along with the annual kite-fighting tournament. Amir and Hassan make their own kites, but there are always flaws with the designs. Baba begins buying their kites from a shoemaker who is famous for his kites. Amir says a new kid in the neighborhood talks about the rules for the tournaments in the Hindu culture. Amir says the Afghanistan people hate rules and there are no rules for the tournament. The goal is to cut the strings of all the other kites without having your string cut. When a kite string is cut, the kite runners rush to retrieve it. Hassan is the best of all the runners, seldom looking up to see where the kite is headed but always knowing where it will come down.
The day of the tournament draws near and Baba predicts Amir might win this year. Amir doesn't know how to react to the praise but becomes determined to win. He says Baba wins at everything and has the right to expect Amir to win at this.
Amir is worried and almost decides not to fly his kite in the tournament at all but Hassan convinces him to go ahead. Soon there are only two kites remaining - Amir's and a blue kite flown by someone he doesn't know. When Amir makes the final cut, setting the blue kite free from its string, the crowd goes wild. Hassan pledges to go retrieve the blue kite. Amir drags his kite in and Ali congratulates him. Amir doesn't yet go to his father, but imagines what the moment of congratulations will be. He believes this victory will change his relationship with his father and they will now live "happily ever after."
Amir goes in search of Hassan and an old man says he say Hassan being chased by some boys. When Amir catches up, Hassan is trapped at the end of an alley. Assef is there with some friends, including a boy named Kamal. Assef says he forgives Hassan for the threats during their previous meeting but the forgiveness comes with a price.
Chapter 7 cont.
He suggests Hassan hand over the blue kite. Hassan refuses and Assef says Amir would not make the same sacrifice for Hassan. Hassan argues that he and Amir are friends but Assef says Hassan is nothing more to Amir than a servant. He then says Hassan can keep the kite because that will remind him always of "what I'm about to do." Assef then rapes Hassan while the other two boys hold Hassan down.
Amir steps back from the entrance of the alley. He knows that he has one final chance to stand up for Hassan, but he slips away without revealing his presence. Amir says that, perhaps, this is the price he has to pay to win Baba's favor and that it might be a fair price. Amir waits for awhile then heads to the alley. He says he'd been looking for Hassan and their eyes don't meet. Amir pretends he doesn't see the "tiny drops that fell from between his legs and stained the snow black," or that he's limping. When they reach home, Baba is thrilled with Amir's victory.
Amir says his relationship with Hassan mirrors that of Baba and Ali, at least to some degree. Baba tells stories of the mischief and he Ali caused when they were children. There is good-natured teasing between the two men but Amir notes that his father doesn't refer to Ali as his friend. Amir says he and Hassan aren't friends either, but that the bond between them is something that can't be ignored. The class separation is obvious. Amir gets ready to go to school every morning and Hassan prepares Amir's clothes and breakfast, serving Amir's needs. This doesn't seem at all strange until later when the reader learns that Hassan is actually Amir's half brother.
Amir is sometimes mean when it comes to Hassan though it could be put down to something akin to sibling rivalry. For example, Hassan loves the stories Amir reads and they spend hours with Amir reading aloud to Hassan at the old cemetery. Sometimes Hassan stops Amir, asking for the meaning of a particular word. One day he asks what "imbecile" means. Amir says it means "smart," and gives an example of the word in a sentence, saying "Hassan is an imbecile." Amir says he later feels bad about it and sometimes gives Hassan an "old shirt or a broken toy" to make amends for what he tells himself is a "harmless prank."
One of the books Amir reads to Hassan is about ancient Persia. Hassan's favorite story from this book is about Rostam and Sohrab. In the story, Sohrab is mortally wounded by Rostam and as he is dying they discover that Sohrab is Rostam's son. Sohrab's dying words indicate that Rostam's obstinacy denied him his rightful place as son. Hassan is incredibly moved by the story and sometimes cries. He later names his own son Sohrab. This could be a mere foreshadowing of the fact that Baba and Hassan are father and son and that Baba's own pride and obstinacy are to blame for his refusal to
publicly acknowledge Hassa. It may also be a hint that Hassan knows of the biological bond and that it will never be acknowledged. It's obvious that Amir is jealous of Hassan. He notes that Baba buys kites for each of them each year for the flying season. If Amir asks for a larger kite, Baba complies with the request but then he buys the exact same kite for Hassan as well. Amir says he wishes he could - at least sometimes - be Baba's favorite. It's important for the reader to remember that Amir doesn't yet know Baba is also Hassan's father. One day he asks Hassan how far his loyalty goes. He asks if Hassan would eat dirt if Amir told him to. Hassan admits that he would but asks why Amir would possibly ask him to go to such an extreme. Hassan is not educated but he is very smart. He is also very unassuming and doesn't seem to ask for anything from either Amir or Baba in return for his unwavering devotion to them.
1. What does the story about the death of Ali’s parents show us about Afghan society?
2. How does Baba’s relationship with Ali mirror Amir’s with Hassan? What does Hosseini want us to think about this?
3. Amir says ‘I never thought of me and Hassan as friends’ (p.22). Does this mean that they were never friends, or does it suggest something else about their relationship?
4. Which denomination of Islam is Amir? Does Hassan belong to the same one?
Chapter 4 cont.
5. Read the following extract from pages 24-5 ‘Sitting cross-legged, sunlight and shadows of pomegranate leaves dancing on his face... I would tell myself that was amends enough for a
harmless prank.’ What do we find out about the character of each boy from these events?
6. Hassan praises Amir’s first short story as ‘the best story you’ve read me in a long time’. What type of adjective is the word ‘best’? Is this hyperbolic (exaggerated) or accurate praise?
7. How does Hosseni leave us in no doubt about the conflict Amir struggles with in regards to his relationship with his father?
1. How has Afghanistan ‘changed forever’?
2. Who does Baba call out to when he comes into the house? Do you think this is significant?
3. Why is Amir glad about the coup?
4. What does Hassan’s question to Amir (p.32-33) show us?
5. Choose three quotations that describe Assef. What impression do they leave you with?
Chapter 5 cont.
6. Is there such a thing as a ‘true’ Afghan? (p.35) What is the irony in Assef’s speech?
7. What impact does Amir’s thought that ‘he’s not my friend!... He’s my servant!’ (p.36) have?
8. How do you think Ali feels about Hassan’s birthday present from Baba? Explain your answer.
9. Why are we left with a sense of foreboding at the end of the chapter?
1. Why is the opening sentence only a word long?
2. Does Amir enjoy the winter?
3. Why is kite fighting especially important to Amir?
4. What is it that Afghans cherish and what do they abhor?
5. What talent of Hassan’s builds our anticipation about events to come?
Chapter 6 cont.
6. What added understanding of the title do we gain from this chapter?
7. Amir is cruel to Hassan in this chapter but does anything in his story make us less critical of him?
8. Finish the quotation from p.51: ‘He was so goddam pure, ...’
1. The sky is described as ‘a blameless blue’ (p.53). What significance does this take on later in the chapter?
2. Hassan tells Amir ‘”You won, Amir agha! You won!”’ What does Amir reply and why is this unexpected?
3. Why does Hosseini break the chapter with the description of a memory and a dream?
4. What is it called when two contrasting things are put together to encourage the reader to think? How is the technique used in this chapter?
Chapter 7 cont.
5. How do Wali and Kamal react to the rape? Why is what Wali says important to our understanding of Assef?
6. Why is the description of the Eid sacrifice included here?
7. How much do you blame the ‘hero’ of this chapter for the way he acts when his friend is raped? Are there any mitigating factors?
Chapter 8 cont.
Hassan and Amir barely see each other for the next week. One day Ali asks Amir why Hassan is acting strangely. Amir says he doesn't know. A few days later, Amir goes on an outing with Baba and a group of friends and relatives. Amir says he finally has Baba's attention but now he simply feels empty. Amir and Hassan stop spending time playing together and Amir rebuffs Hassan's attempts. One day Amir and Baba are planting tulips in the garden and Amir asks if Baba had
ever considered hiring someone else as the household servants. Baba is furious, citing his forty-year relationship with Ali. He says he's ashamed of Amir's comments and that Hassan is not leaving.
School starts and Amir spends a great deal of time in his room. One day Amir asks Hassan to accompany him to their favorite reading spot. Amir is about to read, then stops and throws a pomegranate at Hassan. It strikes him and splatters.Amir screams at Hassan to hit him back, but Hassan refuses.
Baba throws an elaborate birthday party for Amir when he turns thirteen. Amir notes that his relationship with his father is already regressing with distance between them again. While the party is for Amir's birthday, he knows that his father is the star of the show and the reason most of the people show up. Assef shows up with a book about Hitler as his gift to Amir. Amir is standing alone away from the party when Rahim Khan seeks him out. He presents Amir with a journal for his stories. Rahim says he'd almost married a girl once but she was a servant and his parents would never have accepted
her. He reminds Amir that he's open to anything Amir wants to talk about and Amir almost tells him about Hassan's attack and his own reaction to it, but the moment passes as fireworks begin. During one blast that lights up the yard, Amir sees Hassan serving drinks to Assef and his friend.
Baba's two gifts are a red bicycle that would have been welcomed a few months earlier and a fancy wristwatch. The only gift Amir treasures is the journal from Rahim Khan. Amir becomes convinced that things would be better for Hassan if he were not in the house so that he would be far removed from Assef. But Amir also admits his life will be better without Hassan's presence. The next day Amir hides some money and the watch under Hassan's mattress. He tells his father that the watch is missing and hints that Hassan might have taken it. Baba summons Hassan, Amir, and Ali to his office. Hassan admits to stealing the watch and Amir realizes this is Hassan's way of protecting Amir one final time. Baba says he forgives Hassan but Ali says life is no longer tolerable for them and that they are leaving. Baba rants but Ali stands firm in the decision and they leave the following day for Ali's cousin's house in Hazarajat.
This chapter takes place in March of 1981. Amir and Baba are in the back of a truck with several other people fleeing Afghanistan. They left the house behind with almost all their possessions, telling only Rahim that they were fleeing for America. They are stopped at a checkpoint and a soldier demands time along with a young mother in the truck as "payment" for passage. Baba intercedes though Amir knows he's putting them all in danger by standing up for the young woman. A superior officer intervenes and the situation passes. The trip takes weeks with days hidden in basements along the way. Amir encounters Kamal, one of Assef's friends who had held Hassan during the attack. Amir overhears Kamal's father saying that Kamal had been raped. He now reacts and responds to nothing. They make part of their journey in a tanker, and Kamal dies on the way. When his father realizes that Kamal is dead, he grabs a gun and kills himself as well.
In Freemont, California, in the 1980s Baba is working at a gas station. He is having trouble identifying with American customs and rules. Amir is studying. One day Amir suggests that they return to Peshawar because it was more like Afghanistan and Baba was happier during their time there. Baba says he came to America for
Amir and they are staying. The day Amir graduates high school - at the age of 20 - Baba gives him a navy blue Grand Torino. Amir announces his plan to study creative writing. Baba isn't happy with the choice, wishing for a stable career instead.
In 1983, Baba sells his old car and buys a beat up Volkswagen bus. They begin hitting yard sales whenever there was extra time and selling the items at a regular Saturday flea market for a modest profit. There are lots of Afghanistan refugees at the flea market and Baba loves to roam the stalls, visiting and sharing gossip. Many of the other sellers are former professionals, ranging from teachers to surgeons. One day Baba introduces Amir to "General Sahib, Mr. Iqbal Taheri," a former member of the Ministry of Defense. Baba brags that Amir is "going to be a great writer" and that he's a
straight A-student. He soon meets the General's wife and their daughter, Soraya.
Later, Amir asks Baba about Soraya. He says there is gossip that she was involved with a young man and that the situation ended badly, but that she's "hardworking and kind." Baba points out that life may be unfair toward women, but that her indiscretion means there are no now suitors looking for her hand in marriage.
The incident with the pomegranates is an effort on Amir's part to find forgiveness. He says he wishes Hassan would hit him back, even hurt him. Amir is hoping that if he is punished for his inaction the day of Hassan's rape, he might be about to find some semblance of peace and rekindle his relationship with Hassan. For all the insistence that Hassan is not his friend, Amir is now seeking the forgiveness one would seek from a friend.
Hassan's station in life creates a chasm between the two that cannot be easily bridged though Amir has the power to make that gulf less formidable. Amir doesn't make that effort and seems puzzled that Hassan doesn't either. One day when the boys are talking, Amir promises he'll someday be so rich that he can afford to buy two televisions - one for himself and one for Hassan. Hassan pledges that he'll put his in the little hut where he and Ali live. This surprises Amir because he can't imagine that Hassan would be happy to spend his life there with no hope of making a change. Another example of this attitude is seen when Amir sees Hassan serving the guests at the birthday party. Hassan is serving Assef and one of Assef's friends though it seems too much to expect of him.
Assef is obviously unhinged even at this young age. When he and his parents show up at Amir's birthday party, Assef does all the talking though it would have been normal for the parents to speak and Assef to only politely answer when directly addressed. Amir notes that it seems as if Assef's parents might actually be afraid of their son. The gift - a book about Hitler - is a foreshadowing of what's to come for Assef when he becomes a soldier himself. Amir is hurting with the knowledge that he watched the attack on Hassan and did nothing, but he is unable to confess the situation to any of the adults in his life. Rahim Khan seems an obvious choice considering that Baba would never have been able to understand. Amir feels that it is his fault. Yet, some of the situation is beyond his control. After all, he is just a little boy. Some of the blame can be traced back to Baba who has been willing to let his son work as a servant in his household for all these years and is now willing to let him leave rather than confess the truth and take responsibility. Ali and Hassan have obviously been crying when they enter Baba's study to discuss the missing watch. Amir realizes that Hassan has told Ali the entire story - his attack, Amir's inaction, and that Amir wants him to leave the household at all costs. Amir says he's glad that someone else finally sees him for what he really is. He seems to still be seeking punishment for his decision and is unable to forgive himself without that
This chapter begins with the statement that Baba "loved the idea of America." Like many people in bad situations, Baba has come to believe that living in America will be wonderful and that all his troubles will be ended. The reality is seldom as wonderful as the idea and this is true in Baba's case as well. Amir says Baba loved the idea but the reality "gave him an ulcer." One of the incidents Amir describes happens when Baba arrives at a small market where he shops regularly. On this particular day he doesn't have cash for his small purchase and when he writes a check the owner wants to see his identification. This infuriates Baba and the owners threaten to call the police after he throws a fit.
1. How has the relationship between Amir and Hassan changed?
2. A chasm develops between Amir and Hassan and between who else?
3. What is unexpected about Rahim Khan’s reaction to the re-telling of the kite fighting triumph?
4. What does Amir ask his father? What does the question tell us about Amir, and the responsetell us about his father?
5. What is an insomniac and why should it matter?
6. Why does Rahim Khan tell Amir the story about Homaira?
7. Consider how Hosseini ends this chapter. What is the significance of the final sentence?
1. Why does Amir dismiss his birthday gifts? Does he dismiss Hassan and Ali’s gift for the same
2. What decision does Amir make in this chapter that has significant consequences?
3. What is the consequence?
4. Why is Baba’s reaction to Ali and Hassan’s decision so startling?
5. In what way are the final lines of the chapter poetic?
1. How many years have passed since Amir’s thriteenth birthday party?
2. How do you interpret Amir’s ‘car sickness’ (p.96)?
3. How do you interpret Baba’s actions in this chapter?
4. Why do you think that Amir ‘was glad for darkness’? Have you noticed the increasing frequency of such references?
5. Do Amir’s words ‘one disappointing son and two suitcases’ make you more or less sorry for him?
1. Compare the reactions of Amir and Baba to life in America.
2. What is it that Amir cannot escape from?
3. What is Baba’s greatest fear?
4. How is ‘My Swap Meet Princess’ introduced? (p.124)
Amir lives for the Sundays at the flea market, but he has trouble working up the nerve to actually talk to Soraya. Baba warns Amir to be careful not to harm Soraya's honor or that of her father. Amir soon learns that Soraya wants to be a teacher though her father wishes for her to have a more lucrative career.
Baba becomes ill, and a doctor discovers a spot on his lung that is later diagnosed as Oat Cell Carcinoma. The cancer is advanced and inoperable. Baba insists that no one learn of his illness. One day he collapses at the flea market with a seizure and is hospitalized. Two days later, he's released from the hospital. It's obvious that he has only a little time left. Amir asks Baba to speak to Soraya's father, asking for permission for them to marry.
Soraya telephones Amir that evening. She says her father has given his permission, but she needs to tell him something first. She and a young man had lived together for a short while. She fears that this fact will mean Amir won't want to marry her after all. Though he's hurt by the fact that she has already been to bed with another man, he knows that he can't hold her past against her. He says he wants to marry her anyway.
The traditions related to the upcoming marriage continue. The ceremonies would normally have lasted several months, but everyone can see that Baba isn't likely to live that long. So, the event is hastened. Soraya becomes Baba's chief caregiver, and he is almost completely bedridden in their apartment. One day Amir arrives home to find the two of them looking guilty as Soraya tries to hide something. He discovers it's the journal given to him by Rahim Khan. Soraya says she hadn't realized the depth of his talent. Baba says he "put her up to it." That night, Baba says he is in no pain for the first time in a long time. He declines the pain medication and dies that night.
Amir begins to learn about his in-laws. The General is a tyrant who rules with anger. Khala Jamila - Soraya's mother - is kind and gentle with a beautiful singing voice, though the General refuses to allow her sing in public. Amir and Soraya move to a one-bedroom apartment near her parents. They stop going to the flea market and focus on their studies. Amir spends more time writing and sells a book.
They try to have a child. after a year, a doctor tells them Soraya will never be able to conceive. They discuss adoption, but Amir can tell Soraya's heart isn't in it and drops the idea. They use the money from Amir's second book to put a down payment on a house. Their lives settle into a routine, but Amir can feel the absence of a child in their lives. He compares it to a presence "settling between us ... like a newborn child."
This chapter begins in June of 2001. Amir has a phone call from Rahim Khan who is in Pakistan. Rahim says that he is very ill. Amir plans to leave for Pakistan immediately. Amir says that Rahim Khan had said during their phone call that "there is a way to be good again." Amir knows this means Rahim has always knows about Hassan's attack, Amir's lack of action, and Amir's lies that forced Hassan out of his home. Time has changed many things in their lives. The General is no longer critical of Soraya's chosen profession and sometimes sits in on her classes.
Amir arrives and is surprised at Rahim Khan's gaunt appearance. Rahim says in keeping with an agreement with Baba, he'd moved into their house once Amir and Baba left Afghanistan. Rahim says he couldn't bring himself to leave his home even when things were bad. He then says he has a story he needs to tell Amir.
Rahim Kahn says he was traveling one day when he encountered Hassan. Hassan was married by then. At first, he and his wife were reluctant to leave the home they had created for themselves. However, Rahim convinced them, and they moved in with him. They took care of the house and Rahim. Hassan's wife, Farzana, gave birth to a stillborn daughter. She was pregnant again when a strange woman appeared. She was near death, and they began to nurse her back to health before discovering she was Hassan's mother, Sanaubar. She was there when Farzana gave birth to a son they named Sohrab. When Sohrab was four, Sanaubar died.
Rahim Khan continues the story but first he gives Amir a faded photo of Hassan as an adult with a little boy, Sohrab. There is also a letter from Hassan. He explains that Rahim Khan is ill and that the situation in his country is degrading quickly. He reminisces, updates Amir on his life, and says that if Amir ever returns to his home in Afghanistan, he'll find Hassan waiting faithfully. Rahim Khan says the letter was written six months earlier. He says one day a group of Taliban soldiers arrived at the house and demanded Hassan and his family leave. Hassan protested and the soldiers executed him in the street. When Farzana ran toward her dead husband, the soldiers killed her as well. Rahim Khan says the Taliban soldiers now live in the house and that Sohrab has been taken an orphanage. Rahim says a local couple will take Sohrab in if Amir can get him into Pakistan. Amir offers to pay for someone else to go but Rahim Khan explodes, telling Amir that it's time for him to stand up as a man and do what's right.
Chapter 17 cont.
He then goes on to tell the rest of his story. He says Ali was married to another woman before Sanaubar. They had no children but when she left Ali she had three daughters. Rahim Khan says Ali was not able to father children. Amir initially argues but then gives in and asks for the identity of Hassan's father. Rahim Khan says Amir knows if he will just think on the matter. Amir doesn't want to accept it, but he realizes Baba is also Hassan's father and that he and Hassan are half-brothers, making Sohrab his nephew.
Interestingly, when Soraya confides her past to Amir he doesn't reciprocate with the secret that has eaten at him for more than a decade. He says he can't possibly chastise her for her past when his own is far from clean. He does say that she's very brave for confiding in him and that, in his mind, makes her a better person than he.
At Baba's funeral, many of the mourners share their memories of Baba. They talk about the things he did for them. Some of them mention money he gave them or loaned to them. Others talk about Baba's willingness to help when no one else was willing. With this in mind, the reader may find a little more sympathy for Baba's situation the last few years of his life. He'd been a wealthy man in Afghanistan, well-respected, and beloved. In America, he became a poor man who worked at a gas station just to get by. However, he retained his pride.
Amir notes that they were eligible for government assistance when they arrived. However, Baba had refused, saying all he wanted was a job so he could earn his way. As a contrast, the General never worked except for making the small amount of money he could from the flea market. Other than that, he depended on government assistance because he wasn't willing to lower himself to work at some menial job so much below his station in Afghanistan.
Amir notes that his mother-in-law loves him completely and unconditionally. This is likely because Soraya had become blemished in the eyes of the community and her mother had come to doubt Soraya would ever marry. The fact that Amir looks past Soraya's indiscretion makes him a hero in the eyes of his mother-in-law.
The letter Hassan writes Amir is a testament of Hassan's determination which seems in contrast to his earlier acceptance that he would spend his life in a mud hut as a servant. Perhaps because Amir introduced Hassan to the written word by reading to him, Hassan spends the time and effort to learn to read. Not only that, he teaches Sohrab to read and write as well.
The revelation that Amir and Hassan are half-brothers isn't a surprise to the reader of this Prezi (soz) but probably is a surprise to the reader of the book. There are some hints to this effect. Baba never misses Hassan's birthday. When he buys a specific kite for Amir, he buys the same kite for Hassan. When he believes Hassan stole from Amir, he immediately offered up forgiveness though it went against everything Amir expected. In addition, there are some hints that Amir senses the likeness between his father and Hassan when Hassan is a youngster, though he doesn't quite grasp it. Amir says that he sees something in Hassan's face but that it disappears before he can figure out what it is.
1. Why does the chapter begin with a memory of Hassan and Ali?
2. How does Hosseini get the reader to enjoy the courtship?
3. By Afghan standards Amir’s approach is bold (p.128), do you find it so?
4. How is gender made an issue in this chapter?
5. Why are so many Afghan words used to describe the courtship (p.128-129). Which words are explained and which are not? Why do you think this has been done?
6. This chapter sees great joy and celebration, so why does it end so negatively?
1. Is the novel unsympathetic to teaching or is this comment meant to reflect more on the general?
2. p.148: What do you notice about the sentence length in the description of the ceremony? Why do you think this technique has been used?
3. p.151: What simile is used to describe Baba’s happiness? Why is this fitting?
4. p.154: How is Taheri described? Who does this contrast strongly with? Why do you think Hosseini offers this contrast?
5. How do the tone and ending of the chapter differ from the rest of the chapter? Why has thiscontrast been created?
6. Is this chapter well-balanced?
1. What important revelation is made?
2. ‘Come. There is a way to be good again’ (p.168). What does Rahim Khan’s comment tells us about his understanding of Amir?
3. Why does Hosseini sometimes write in italics?
4. Explore the significance of ‘For you, a thousand times over!’
1. How is Rahim Khan described (p.172) and what is wrong with him?
2. Why did Afghanistan welcome the Taliban at first? (p. 174)
3. How does Hosseini describe the impact of the Taliban on Kabul?
4. ‘The truth was no. The lie was yes. I settled for something in between. “I don’t know”’ (p.176).
Does Amir’s honesty make us more sympathetic towards him?
1. Whose voice do we hear at the beginning of this chapter? Is it significant that the first news of Hassan comes from Rahim Khan?
2. What has happened to Ali?
3. Why does Hassan take such pains to return the house to its former glory?
4. What is the significance of Hassan’s choice of name for his son? (See also p.90.)
5. The war may be over but what shocking revelations end the chapter? Does the order they are related in matter?
1. What does Hassan’s letter reveal about Afghanistan? Himself?
2. Why does Rahim Khan choose to tell Amir of Hassan’s death after he read the letter, rather than before?
3. What simile does Amir use to describe Hassan’s death (p.192)? Why is it effective?
4. ‘“I’m thirty-eight years old and I’ve just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie!”’ (p.195)
What has Amir just found out and how do you react to this revelation?
Amir spends some time wishing Rahim Khan hadn't called him and that he'd continued his life in America without knowing what happened to Hassan. But he announces he will go find Sohrab and instructs Rahim Khan to call the Caldwells, the couple who have agreed to accept Sohrab once he's out of Afghanistan.
Amir is paired up with a man named Farid who will provide transportation and guidance on his quest to find Sohrab. They spend a night at Farid's house and Amir eats a meal. Farid's sons stare at him and he gives them his watch only to discover later that there hadn't been enough food in the house for his meal and for the children. He leaves money under a mattress, knowing they would not accept it from him otherwise.
Chapter 23 cont.
Amir continues to heal slowly and Farid says he isn't sure how long Amir will be safe from the Taliban in this location. Amir and Sohrab begin spending more time together as Amir considers his options. Farid drives Amir and Sohrab when they leave the hospital and head to Islamabad. Amir sleeps most of the way but considers Rahim's words, that "there is a way to be good again."
They arrive in Amir's neighborhood and he's appalled at the devastation. In a chance encounter, Amir meets a former teacher who is now a homeless beggar. The man remembers Amir's mother and says she'd confided in him that she was "profoundly happy," so much so that she was afraid something would be taken from her. Amir has to leave but realizes this old man has given him more information about his mother than his father ever did.
They arrive at an orphanage where they believe Sohrab is living. At first, the director claims to know nothing about Sohrab but eventually admits that he's been taken captive by a Taliban soldier who periodically demands a child as "payment" for the safety of the orphanage as a whole. Sohrab has been gone for a month. He tells them how to find the man who took Sohrab.
Amir asks Farid to drive through his old neighborhood, and they stop at his house. He stays until Farid reminds him they are in danger by being there. Then, he goes to a hotel where he rents a room for an incredibly high price. He starts to argue but realizes the man isn't being greedy - he's simply trying to feed his family. They go the next day to the soccer game where the orphanage director tells them they'll find the man who took Sohrab. The soldier, who Amir later discovers is Assef, appears at halftime and stones a man and woman to death. Farid tells one of the Taliban soldiers that he and Amir want a meeting with the soldier in charge of the stoning. Amir is surprised when he's told where to go at three o'clock that same day.
They arrive at the big house where the meeting is to be held and Amir says he doesn't expect Farid to go inside with him. He immediately notices that Assef hasn't changed clothes since the execution that day and that needle marks on his forearms identify him as a drug user. Assef begins to taunt Amir, asks why he left Afghanistan for America rather than staying to fight for his country. Assef calls in Sohrab is who wearing bells that jingle when he walks. He is forced to dance and he does so in something like a trance, apparently knowing he'll be punished otherwise. Amir is amazed at the resemblance to Hassan. After Sohrab's dance, Amir realizes the soldier holding him captive is Assef. Amir offers to pay for him but Assef refuses money. He says he'll fight Amir with the winner taking Sohrab. Amir agrees. Assef tells the other soldiers to leave the room and that they aren't to enter, no matter what they hear. He says if Amir walks out of the room with Sohrab, they are to allow him to leave unharmed.
Chapter 22 cont.
Amir says, looking back on the fight, he's certain he didn't give Assef a good run because he'd never been in a fight before. While he's being severely beaten, he suddenly feels cleansed of all the guilt and he begins to laugh. Sohrab intervenes, telling Assef to stop. He has a small brass ball taken from the base of a table in the slingshot aimed at Assef. Assef releases Amir and lunges for Sohrab, who fires, striking Assef in the left eye so hard that his eye is displaced and blood begins to run. Sohrab and Amir leave the room and the soldiers, remembering the orders, allow them to go. Farid is waiting outside.
Amir wakes briefly in a hospital, then passes out again. He wakes several more times, each time with brief impressions. When he finally is coherent, he learns he had his spleen removed, his lung was punctured, and his jaw is wired shut. He learns that Farid has been taking care of Sohrab. He later discovers that the Caldwells don't actually exist. Rhahim Khan has left a letter for Amir and disappeared. Two important aspects of the letter are that he has always known about Amir's failure to help Hassan and that he has always known about Baba's failure to claim Hassan as his biological son. Rahim Khan goes into details about both, saying Amir has always been too hard on himself for that mistake and that Baba treated Amir badly because he was never able to openly claim both his sons. The letter goes on to say that Rahim has left most of the money to Amir to help with expenses related to getting out of the country with Sohrab. The letter ends with a plea for Amir to forgive Rahim Khan, forgive his father, and forgive himself.
Hassan spends a great deal of time berating himself for not realizing there was more to the connection between Baba and Hassan than mere affection. He recalls all the hints that might have led him to the right conclusion but he doesn't seem to consider that Baba wouldn't have likely admitted to the kinship even if Amir had confronted him about it.
Hassan doesn't want to go to Afghanistan to retrieve Sohrab and it seems to be mostly guilt that drives him to it. He admits that if he hadn't driven Hassan from their home when they were young, Baba might have taken Hassan and Ali with them when they fled for America. If that had happened, Hassan might have had an opportunity for a full life rather than being killed in the streets for trying to protect the property of a father who wouldn't even publicly claim him.
Chapters 18-21 cont.
The relationship between Farid and Amir is off to a rocky start and it's obvious Farid has no use for Amir. Farid actually thinks Amir is a spoiled tourist and he's somewhat embarrassed when he discovers Amir is searching for a boy. Farid seems like a tough man but he obviously has a soft spot for the children in his life.
The man who runs the orphanage indicates that he willingly gives the soldier one child each time the soldier demands it. This makes Amir furious and he jumps on the man, apparently intending to do bodily harm. When the scuffle is over, the man says he has given up his life, his money, and his chance to leave the country to work at this orphanage. He says there is no financial support, which means there is no way to feed the children. The soldier who takes a child is not making a request, but issuing a demand. If the director refuses, the man takes as many children as he wants. If the director gives in, the soldier gives him money. The director says he then takes the money to the market and buys food for the children who remain. While he's obviously upset about the situation, he says he's made his peace with his god and that he's ready to stand in judgment for his decision.
Chapters 22 and 23
On the way into the house for his meeting with Assef, Amir considers where he is and what he's about to do. He knows that he might die in this attempt to rescue a boy who might already be dead. He considers that his actions in the next few minutes might leave Soraya a widow. He also considers that walking away might be the act of a coward, but Amir says that he's never lied to himself about his weakness on this point. He also says that it's not really cowardice if a person is merely acting a certain way for self-preservation. He refers to it as being "prudent."
There's a note of foreshadowing that's rather interesting soon after Amir's arrival in Assef's office. He says he eats a grape without realizing it's the last piece of solid food he'll eat "for a long time."
Assef tells the story of how he came to be a soldier. He says he was held captive with many others. All of them were periodically beaten. One day he was suffering with a kidney stone, and the beating he took dislodged the stone so that he was suddenly relieved of that pain. He says he began to laugh, which made his captors furious. He knew that God had kept him alive to perform "ethnic cleansing." He says that's why he killed so many, including Hassan.
Chapters 22 and 23 cont.
Rahim Khan's letter to Amir indicates that he does know that Hassan was raped while Amir stood by. He says Hassan told him the story. Rahim Khan goes on to say something that Amir has not been able to understand or accept in all these years. He says Amir himself was just a "troubled little boy" and that his decision wasn't right, but it was also the decision of a child. Rahim Khan says Amir has always been too hard on himself for that mistake. He points out that if Amir were truly a bad person he would never have suffered over that decision. Rahim then goes into some detail about Baba's lies regarding Hassan's parentage. He says that Baba also suffered over that situation and that he denied himself a close relationship with Amir as punishment for having fathered Hassan and not claiming him. The result of that remorse on Baba's part, according to Rahim, is that Baba helped everyone he encountered. His guilt over Hassan probably prompted him to build the orphanage, lend money to anyone in need, and feed the hungry and the poor. Baba was lauded for these things at his funeral, but Rahim realizes that Baba did most of it not because he was a good man, but because he was trying to make amends for his own failures. Again, a man without a conscience wouldn't have cared.
1. ‘like father, like son’ (p.197). How far is this cliché true in relation to Amir and his Baba?
2. Why is there so much repetition of earlier events and conversations in this chapter?
3. This is a short chapter. Does this mean that it’s less important than the others?
1. ‘“You’ve always been a tourist here, you just didn’t know it”’ (p.204). How far is Farid’s criticism true?
2. How does Hosseini encourage us to see Amir in a positive light?
1. How does Hosseini get the reader to understand the tragedy of the situation?
2. Why is what Amir’s mother said so prophetic? (p.219)
3. Is it acceptable to sacrifice one or two children for the greater good? If you were in the place of the orphanage manager what would you have done?
4. How do you expect the novel to end? If you’ve already finished the novel or seen the movie (Dayna) how would you end it and why?
1. What is the most shocking thing about this chapter?
2. Is Farid’s humour (p.232-3) appropriate in the context of the executions that follow? What is Hosseini hoping to achieve here?
3. Why do the Taliban become the Talib?
4. How is the tension built up in the description of the executions on pages 235-7?
5. Why does Hosseini include the detail of the separate trucks? (p.237)
1. Why are the events in this chapter so important in defining Amir’s identity?
2. Amir is worried that he’s going to ‘render Soraya a biwa, a widow’ (p240). Why does Hosseini use the Afghan word here?
3. Why is it important that Amir notices the track marks on the Talib’s arms? (p.241)
4. What difference does it make that Assef is the man that Amir must negotiate with?
Chapter 22 cont.
5. What hypocrisy does Amir notice? (p.245)
6. How does Amir translate Assef’s phrase ‘Taking out the garbage’ (p.249)?
7. What do you notice about the sentence lengths in the description of the fight on page 252?
8. Who saves Amir? Is this surprising?
1. Why does this chapter open with so many short sentences?
2. What physical scars does Amir bear from his fight with Assef? Which is most significant and why? (p.259)
3. What do you make of Rahim Khan’s letter? Does it make you more or less sympathetic to any of the novel’s protagonists?
4. Perhaps the most emotionally powerful words in the novel are present in this chapter. If they are, what is your bid?
They arrive in Islamabad and get a hotel room. Farid leaves them, saying he needs to return to his family. Amir spends the night wondering when his physical injuries will be healed and wondering what he'll do with Sohrab, though he admits that he already knows he'll take him to America. Amir sleeps and when he wakes Sohrab is gone. He recalls that Sohrab had been enthralled with a mosque a short distance away and finds him there. Sohrab is struggling with the fact that he
injured Assef. He says Hassan taught him that it's always wrong to hurt someone because even a bad person can change. Amir says that Hassan had saved Amir when they were children and Assef threatened to harm Amir. He says Assef later
hurt Hassan. Sohrab asks if Hassan would be disappointed in Sohrab for hurting Assef. Amir assures him Hassan would be proud of Sohrab for saving Amir's life.
They talk about San Francisco and Sohrab begins to seem excited about the prospect of moving to America. One night Sohrab asks what will happen to him in America if Amir becomes tired of him or Soraya doesn't like him. Amir promises
neither of those things will happen.
Chapter 24 cont.
Amir calls Soraya who has been frantic with worry. He relates the story of Sohrab and says he wants to adopt the boy. Soraya hesitates only a moment before saying Amir should bring Sohrab home with him. Amir goes to the American Embassy where he meets a man named Raymond Andrews. Raymond explains that the biggest hurdle is to prove that Sohrab's parents are truly dead. Without death certificates or some proof that Amir is now Sohrab's legal guardian, the adoption won't be approved. He says Sohrab will not likely be allowed to leave the country. Amir calls Soraya with the news. She has been working with a friend who promises to help through INS channels.
Meanwhile, Amir reaches out to a local attorney who says the best option is to leave Amir in an orphanage in the country while the details are worked out. The attorney says the options include seeking political asylum for Sohrab but it would require proving that Sohrab is being persecuted. Amir could also live in Pakistan for two years while the local adoption is approved. The attorney says the best option is for Sohrab to remain in a Pakistan orphanage while Amir returns home to begin the adoption process from there.
Chapter 24 cont.
Amir begins to talk with Sohrab, telling him that the best option for the adoption to take place seems to be that Sohrab will remain in Pakistan in an orphanage for a short time. Sohrab begins to cry, pleading with Amir not to leave him in another orphanage. Sohrab has developed a habit of taking a long bath each night and Soraya calls while he's in the tub.
She says their friend has a plan, getting Sohrab into the country on a visitation visa and making the adoption official while he's there. After the call, Amir goes to the bathroom to tell Sohrab the good news. Sohrab has slashed his wrists with a razor blade and the Amir is "still screaming when the ambulance arrives."
Amir can see the doctors working on Sohrab but they won't allow him in the room. For five hours he waits for news. He falls asleep and a medical official wakes him. Amir learns Sohrab has a transfusion and was revived twice, but is alive and stable. Amir remains at Sohrab's bedside almost every minute after that. When Sohrab is released from the Intensive
Care Unit, Amir rushes to the motel to get clean clothes. The owner tells him he has to leave because the situation is "bad for business." Amir says he understands and takes his things. At the hospital, Sohrab is on suicide watch. When Sohrab is awake, Amir talks to him, promising that Sohrab will go with him to America and that he's safe. Amir begins to read
with him and one day Sohrab interrupts, saying he's tired. Amir says it's to be expected but Sohrab says he's "tired of everything." He says he wants his "old life back," including his parents, and that he wishes he had died. Amir stays with Sohrab and has no clue at that moment that Sohrab won't say another word for almost a year.
Chapter 25 cont.
Amir asks Sohrab to go with him to America. Sohrab simply doesn't respond one way or the other and Amir makes the travel arrangements. Soraya greets Sohrab with affection but he remains indifferent. She has made a guest room into a bedroom for him. Soraya's mother presents him a sweater she knitted. He is silent through it all. Soraya's father says people will want to know why Sohrab is here. Amir says he will tell people Sohrab is his nephew. Sohrab withdraws completely. Every action is done automatically, in silence, and without enthusiasm. Soraya and Amir had discussed their plans for Sohrab prior to his arrival. Soraya wanted to enroll him in soccer and swimming. The reality is that Sohrab sleeps most of the time and seems to care nothing at all about life. Then the Twin Towers are targeted and
Afghanistan is bombed. While Sohrab shows no interest, Amir and Soraya become active in relief efforts for the Afghanistan victims of land mines and other casualties of the fighting there. Another year arrives. Soraya and Amir are in their living room quietly watching TV, while Sohrab is silent upstairs.
Chapter 25 cont.
As time passes, people become less interested in Sohrab and stop talking about the "poor mute boy" whenever they are in gatherings. In March of 2002, Soraya and Amir are at a gathering of Afghan people at Lake Elizabeth Park in Freemont.By now, the General has returned to Afghanistan to hold a ministry position and Soraya's mother, Khala Jamila, is staying with Amir and Soraya in his absence. It's a rainy day early but the rain slacks off by mid-day and Amir spots a man selling a kite. He buys one and asks Sohrab to join him in flying it. Sohrab is silent. Amir says that Sohrab's father
had been the best kite runner in all of Afghanistan when they were children. Amir says it appears he'll have to fly this particular kite alone and he gets it airborne. When he stops running, he realizes Sohrab is beside him. He hands Sohrab the kite string and they are soon joined by another kite and Amir knows there's going to be a battle. Sohrab gives control of the kite back to Amir and Amir talks, telling Sohrab about Hassan's favorite tactic in a kite tournament. At the right time, Amir makes the move and cuts the string of the other kite. People in the park begin to cheer and Sohrab is smiling slightly. Amir asks Sohrab if he should "run the kite." He believes he sees Sohrab nod. Amir takes off among the group of children. He knows the actions of Sohrab that day are not a huge step in the right direction, but he believes they are a step. He accepts that.
Rahim Khan's actions are somewhat devious, but he seems to have done it all with the best interests of Amir and Sohrab in mind. He is bound to know that he's putting Amir in terrible danger by sending him back to his home country, but he also is one of the few people who knows how much Amir has suffered for his failure to stand up for Hassan all those years ago. It's obvious Sohrab is struggling with the acts he was forced to perform while in Assef's captivity. He refers to himself as "dirty," and Amir assures him he isn't. Sohrab cries, and Amir decides the moment is right to ask if Sohrab wants to go with him to America. Amir also tells Sohrab about their biological kinship. Sohrab asks if Hassan's father had loved Hassan as much as he loved Amir. Amir says his father loved them "differently." Sohrab asks if Baba had not claimed Hassan because he was ashamed of Hassan. Amir says Baba didn't claim Hassan as his son because he was ashamed of himself. Sohrab and Amir begin bonding, but it's obvious by Sohrab's attempted suicide that he still doesn't fully trust that Amir will take care of him. The reader has to remember that Sohrab saw his parents murdered and has been abused brutally since their deaths.
Amir's faith is rekindled when Sohrab is in the hospital, but it begins with Amir trying to make a deal for Sohrab's recovery. He says that his hands are "stained with Hassan's blood," and he prays that "God doesn't let them get stained with the blood of this boy too." The General - Soraya's father - is acutely aware of what people say about him and his family. It's one reason he didn't want Soraya and Amir to adopt a child. He pointed out that you can't be sure what kind of child you'd get or what his background might be. It's not often that Amir stands up to him but when he questions Sohrab's presence, Amir does, saying that Sohrab is his nephew. Amir is bound to know that people are going to gossip about that piece of information but he doesn't care. At this point, he's become more interested is doing what's right. There's a phrase used by Hassan near the beginning of the story that's repeated at the end as a conclusion. When Hassan heads off to find the kite during the kite tournament in Afghanistan when the boys were youngsters, Amir yells out to him, urging him to bring back the trophy kite. Hassan says, "For you, a thousand times over." The words indicate his devotion to Amir and that he would run for the trophy kite this time and a thousand times more. When Amir asks Sohrab if he should run the kite in the park in Freemont as the book comes to a close, he believes Sohrab nods approval. As Amir takes off, he says, "For you, a thousand times over." The indication is that he has that same devotion to Sohrab.
1. What is the significance of Amir’s gift of $2000 to Farid? Does it suggest that he always sees money as the solution and Farid was right to criticise his privileged upbringing or are you more
sympathetic? Do you have a sense of what Hosseini wants us to think?
2. How does Hosseini suggest the damage that has been done to Sohrab?
3. What is one positive to come from what happened to Amir and Sohrab in that room with Assef?
4. Why does Hosseini end this chapter the way he does? Do the final lines catch you by surprise or is this juxtaposition now expected and a healthy balance to the usual romance found in
1. How does Hosseini get the reader to share Amir’s desperation?
2. Sohrab doesn’t die but doesn’t escape unscathed. How does Hosseini suggest the psychological toll of his experience?
3. How does Hosseini show the reader that Amir has become the man his father wanted him to become?
4. This is a very individual story and tragedy but how does this chapter broaden out the perspective?
5. Is the conclusion to the novel a positive one? Does it end as you hoped? Would you have liked a different conclusion?
6. Does the title mean more to you than when you began the novel? Explain your response.
Amir is the son of a wealthy but stern man living in Kabul as a child. The family moves to America when Amir is still fairly young and it's there he grows into a man, marries, and makes a home and career for himself. As a child, Amir believes Hassan is nothing more to him than the son of a family servant who also works for Amir's family and who serves the role of playmate. Amir's father is adamant that telling a lie is the worst possible betrayal. It's not until they are adults that Amir learns the truth about his relationship to Hassan and he feels doubly betrayed by the information,
knowing his father had lived a lie for Amir's entire life by not acknowledging Hassan as his son. Amir desperately wants his father's approval but doesn't know how to achieve that. Amir takes things very seriously and he is brutally honest about his own shortcomings. When Hassan is assaulted, Amir doesn't step in to try to save his friend. He hides and waits for the attack to be over before returning to the scene. However, he hates himself for his cowardice and denies himself the comfort of his relationship with Hassan after that. Years later, when Amir is faced with the danger of trying to get Hassan's son from a pedophile, he takes a beating and refuses to back down. As a child, Amir realizes he has a natural talent for storytelling and he follows the dream of becoming a novelist as an adult though it's not a popular track with the people of his country, including his father.
Hassan is the boy who is raised as a servant in Amir's house but who is really Amir's half-brother, the illegitimate son of Amir's father. Hassan is a solemn child and takes his duties as a servant in the household seriously. He is always happy to play with Amir but is always somewhat subservient. When Amir pushes Hassan, trying to make him angry, Hassan refuses to rise to the bait though he is still a youngster who could have been expected to return anger for anger. However, when a neighborhood bully is about to beat up Amir, Hassan stands up to the boy, threatening him with a slingshot. Hassan remains at home when Amir goes to school, and he receives no formal education. However, he eventually learns to read on his own, indicating his determination and self-discipline. He also ensures that his son Sohrab learns to read as a child. Hassan is known for his ability as a kite runner. He can tell where a kite is going to come down without even watching the sky like other runners. When Amir wins a kite tournament, Hassan runs off to get the kite and it's during his efforts to keep the kite that he is raped by a neighborhood bully. Hassan seems to recover from the ordeal and is more
hurt by the fact that Amir's attitude changes than by the assault. Hassan never learns that he is Amir's half-brother. He is murdered by soldiers in the street in front of Amir's home when Sohrab is very young.
Rahim Khan is a well educated friend of Amir's father. He is the first adult Amir considers a friend. He readily reads Amir's stories and buys Amir a notebook for his birthday, an encouragement for Amir to follow his talent on this front. Rahim Khan is the person to reveal that Amir and Hassan are half-brothers when he tells Amir about Hassan's son. He is living in captivity in Afghanistan.
Ali is the man who raises Hassan as his son. He is the faithful servant of Amir's family and was raised with Amir's father. Ali is crippled, the result of a bout with polio, and is often harassed by the young boys of the neighborhood.
Sanaubar is Hassan's mother. She runs away when Hassan is a baby and doesn't return until he is an adult with a child of his own. When she returns, she is in near death and he nurses her back to health, earning her devotion until she dies several years later.
Soraya is the daughter of a former military general, she is considered spoiled by the people of her culture because she'd made the mistake of going off with a young man before she was married. She is, however, a faithful wife to Amir and helps him care for his father during the days leading up to Baba's death. She is heart broken when she cannot have children of her own and accepts Sohrab into her home without question.
Sohrab is the son of Hassan. He is left an orphan when Hassan and his wife are murdered by soldiers. He is then held captive by a cruel soldier until Amir's arrival in the country. He is terrified of being put back in an orphanage. He tries to commit suicide when he learns that Amir is going to return to the United States without him. Even after he is taken to America, he is incapable of trusting his new situation and it takes a great deal of time and patience before he begins to open up to Amir and Soraya.
The General is Soraya's father. He is a stern man who believes he will someday return to a position of importance in Afghanistan. He would rather accept welfare in America than to perform some job that he believes is beneath him.
Khalia Jamila is Soraya's mother. She is immediately fond of Amir, at least partly because he falls in love with Soraya. She is a kind woman and her greatest fault seems to be her tendency to go on about her health. When her husband falls ill, she turns her attention to his medical condition.
Assef is a young boy who is nothing more than a neighborhood thug when Amir and Hassan are youngsters. He is the leader of the group that assaults Hassan and the one who rapes him. Assef is also the soldier who is holding Sohrab captive and who almost beats Amir to death.