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The Kite Runner - Themes & Symbols

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Hannah Waitschies

on 9 April 2014

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Transcript of The Kite Runner - Themes & Symbols

The Kite Runner:

Themes & Symbols
The Kite Runner
has a variety of themes, both major and minor
A theme is defined as "a main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work which may be stated directly or indirectly"
These themes will now be explored more closely . . .
The Kite Runner
has many symbols which add effectiveness and emphasis to the story
A symbol is defined as "something used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process. It represents something other than itself"
These symbols will now be explored more closely . . .
The Kite Runner
tackles the issue of ethnic discrimination in Afghanistan with an example of the relationship between Pashtuns and Hazaras.
Baba's father sets an example for him of being kind to Hazara people, even though they are historically demeaned and persecuted.
Even in Baba's house, the house of best intentions, the class barrier between the Pashtuns and Hazaras endures. Ali is as dear to Baba as a brother; he calls him "family." But Ali still lives in a hut and sleeps on a mattress on the floor.
When Hassan dies defending Baba's house, he does so not because he feels it belongs to him, but because he is being loyal to Baba and Amir.

Hosseini has mentioned in interviews that his focus on discrimination in
The Kite Runner
angers some Afghans, who feel it is inappropriate.
Like Baba, many people do not mention the Hazaras' history of persecution.
By having Assef appear in pre-Taliban times and emerge as a leading Talib, Hosseini shows that the Taliban's persecution of the Hazaras and other Shiites is not new, but a greatly intensified outgrowth of a long-held discrimination.
In Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, discrimination is everywhere and nowhere at the same time:
On one hand, the Taliban do not seem to care whom they are beating, torturing, or executing. In this way, the Talibs discriminate against everyone but themselves. As Amir notices, Assef forces Sohrab to dance to music for his enjoyment - yet, dancing and listening to music had long been banned by the Taliban: "I guessed music wasn't sinful as long as it played to Taliban ears" - Amir.
On the other hand, the Taliban discriminate specifically against the Hazara people. They massacre the Hazaras not only in the region of Hazarajat, but nearly anywhere else they can find them. Assef and his followers do not see the Hazaras' lives as worthwhile; like his idol, Hitler, he feels entitled to killing those he deems unworthy of living in his land. He even relishes the term "ethnic cleansing" because it goes so well with his garbage metaphor: "Afghanistan is like a beautiful mansion littered with garbage, and someone has to take out the garbage" - Assef.

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” - Bertrand Russell
“The only difference between man and man all the world over is one of degree, and not of kind, even as there is between trees of the same species.
Where in is the cause for anger, envy or discrimination?” - Mahatma Ghandi
“For nothing is more democratic than logic; it is no respecter of persons and makes no distinction between crooked and straight noses.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
In The Kite Runner, redemption is so important because sin is so enduring.
Amir opens the story by telling us not about how he sinned, but about that sin's endurance: "It's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years."
Hosseini uses structure to emphasize the themes of sin and redemption.
Because Amir tells the story in retrospect, every memory, even the blissful ones of his childhood before the rape, are tainted with it.
If the timeline of the novel was strictly chronological, we would not have the power of hindsight.
Hosseini uses the first chapter almost like a thesis for the novel.
As Amir retells the story of his life, he weighs each event against his sin; his betrayal of Hassan.
As we learn towards the novel's end, Amir is not the only character who needs redemption.
Sin & Redemption
Sin & Redemption:
“A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward.” - George R.R. Martin
“When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship.” - W. Scott Lineberry
In Ghazi Stadium, the Taliban skews the words of Muhammad in order to justify murdering the alleged adulterers.
The mullah announces that every person should have a punishment befitting his sin. Although he would not want to compare himself to the Taliban, Amir believes this in regards to his own sin.
When Amir tries to get Hassan to hit him with pomegranates, he is expressing his feeling that in order to be forgiven for hurting Hassan, Hassan must hurt him.
When Assef almost kills Amir, he feels "healed," as if now that Assef has hurt him, he is redeemed.
He even tells Farid that in the room with Assef, he "got what he deserved."
In the end, Amir finds out that punishment is not what will redeem him from his sin - It is not even saving Sohrab.
In order to atone for his sin and Baba's before him, Amir must erase the lines of discrimination he has lived with all his life by giving Sohrab an equal chance at success and happiness.

“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.” - Vera Nezarian
1) What other characters need redemption? Why?

Things to think about . . .
2) How does Amir factor into what Baba says
about theft? What do you think this shows
about Baba's experiences?
Until Rahim Khan reveals Baba's secret, Amir thinks he is the only sinner among his family and friends.
Amir is constantly trying to measure up to Baba, because he does not realize that Baba is so hard on him because of his guilt over his own sin.
When Amir finds out about Baba's sin, he feels as though his entire life has been a cycle of betrayal, even before he himself betrayed Hassan.
Even prior to the rape, Hassan makes Amir feel guilty simply by being such a righteous person.
Soraya needs Amir's forgiveness and understanding of her past before they can marry. Amir needs Soraya's forgiveness as well, although he doesn't share his past with her until he is confronted with it again in Pakistan.
In the same way, Rahim Khan needs Amir to forgive him for keeping Baba's secret before he dies.
Rahim Khan, the story's unofficial wise man, is the one who truly understands how redemption occurs. He tells Amir in his letter, "I know that in the end, God will forgive. He will forgive your father, me, and you too ... Forgive your father if you can. Forgive me if you wish. But most important, forgive yourself."
Rahim Khan carries the novel's ultimate message about forgiveness: God is merciful; it is people who are not.
Therefore, truly atoning for one's sins means coming to terms with them by oneself, without relying on a higher power.
When Amir prays, he is still bound by fear and guilt; instead of wishing unselfishly for Sohrab to recover, he begs God not to leave "Sohrab's blood on his hands."
When Amir manages to forgive himself in the very last moments of the novel, he redeems himself at last.
“A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.” - Baba
"I turned to the general. 'You see, General Sahib, my father slept with his servant's wife. She bore him a son named Hassan. Hassan is dead now. That boy sleeping on the couch is Hassan's son. He's my nephew. That's what you tell people when they ask.'
They were all staring at me. 'And one more thing, General Sahib,' I said. 'You will never again refer to him as 'Hazara boy' in my presence. He has a name and it's Sohrab.'" - Amir
Family is more important to Amir than he knows; his guilt over hurting Hassan is terrible when he thinks Hassan is just another person.
Once he knows they are related, he is overcome with guilt, enough to put himself in danger and stand up for Sohrab.
For much of his life, Amir feels as though his family is the cause of his problems. He thinks Baba blames him for his mother's death and spends much of his childhood tormented by trying to win a place in Baba's heart.
Family is the reason why Amir fights to bring Sohrab home and, ultimately, the channel through which he redeems himself.
Family Ties:
“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.” - Mitch Albom
“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” - George Bernard Shaw
“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.” - Trenton Lee Stewart
Family is extremely important in the story, especially because it takes place in Afghanistan.
It is a nation where culture and tradition are of monumental importance, especially to the older generation. We see this when Baba and Amir are in America.
Even though they are in a different country, Amir is expected to observe cultural tradition in courting Soraya. Not only must they go through khastegari, in order to get engaged, but they cannot be seen together in public before the wedding.
One the one hand, everyone in Afghanistan is part of one family; as Baba says, "Take two Afghans who've never met, put them in a room for ten minutes, and they'll figure out how they're related." On the other hand, lineage is of the utmost importance.
When Amir and Soraya are considering adopting a child, General Taheri explains that Afghans are not meant to disturb their family line with such a decision. He tells them that Baba's reputation was a big consideration in regards to their marriage and says, "Blood is a powerful thing ... And when you adopt, you don't know whose blood you're bringing into your house."
What General Taheri does not know is that for the very reason that family is so important to Afghans, Baba kept Hassan's identity secret to his grave.
To Baba, denying Hassan his true identity was preferable to confusing the relationship between both Ali and himself, as well as between Amir and Hassan.
Baba treats Ali and Hassan as equally as he felt he could without destroying his and Ali's honor, but he still knows that they are his real family.
Amir does not have this privilege and his ignorance makes him have more contempt towards Hassan, who is loyal as a brother to him anyway.
Family Ties
Amir has a very complex relationship with Baba, and as much as Amir loves Baba, he rarely feels Baba fully loves him back.
Amir’s desire to win Baba’s love consequently motivates him not to stop Hassan’s rape.
Baba has his own difficulty connecting with Amir.
He feels guilty treating Amir well when he can’t acknowledge Hassan as his other son.
As a result, he is hard on Amir, and he can only show his love for Hassan indirectly (bringing Hassan along when he takes Amir out, paying for Hassan’s lip surgery, buying them each the same kites).
In contrast with this, the most loving relationship between father and son we see is that of Hassan and Sohrab.
After Hassan is killed, Amir tries to become a substitute father to Sohrab.
Their relationship experiences its own strains as Sohrab, who is recovering from the loss of his parents and the abuse he suffered, has trouble opening up to Amir.
Ironically, Amir thought for most of the novel that the reason that he and Baba never opened up to each other was because of the loss of his own parent.
Even though Hosseini has stated that he wanted to remind people of a peaceful Afghanistan, he also does the service of revealing the suffering the nation has experienced in over 30 years of conflict.
Violence pervades the novel, even in the seemingly inoccent activity of kite fighting.
Not only is kite fighting violent because it is a kind of battle, but boys injure their hands when they participate.
This fact suggests that Afghanistan has become a place where joy cannot exist separately from pain; Afghans' memories of their homeland are tainted with suffering.
The entire novel centers around a single act of violence, Hassan's rape, and the sin Amir commits by both failing to intervene, and pretending that violence did not occur.
Symbolically, Hassan's rape is echoed by Sohrab's rape decades
later, and by Afghanistan's continual rape by war and terrorism.
Amir's life in America does involve suffering, especially regarding
Baba's death - But Baba's death is peaceful.
Because America serves a haven from violence, the violence under
the Taliban in Kabul is even more shocking and sobering.
After his return from Afghanistan, the September 11th attacks
occur. The Taliban's presence in America symbolizes that there wil always be conflict and
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent...An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” - Mahatma Gandhi
“Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that.” - Khaled Hosseini
“Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.” - Abraham Lincoln
Amir gets a taste of violence when he and Baba are fleeing for Pakistan and Kamal's father commits suicide. However, nothing can prepare him for the extent of violence and suffering in Afghanistan upon his return.
One of the most graphic accounts is of the stoning at Ghazi Stadium.
Like the rapes of Hassan and Sohrab, the event symbolizes the devastation of Afghanistan as a whole, as Afghans once knew it.
Another very violent event is Amir's fight with Assef. At the time, Amir's pain makes him feel happy and "healed"; it is as though by suffering, he is repaying Hassan for all the violence he suffered on Amir's behalf. Amir's split lip, though minor compared to his other injuries, is most significant because it represents this feeling of closeness to Hassan.
Amir's split lip establishes a physical comparison to Hassan's hair-lip, creating facial similarities between the two brothers despite their ethnic differences
injustice for Amir to struggle with and stand up against.
We learn that violence is not the answer to Amir's problems, nor does he understand just how deep its consequences run.
When Sohrab tries to kill himself, Amir sees that his nearly fatal injuries were nothing compared to the pain Sohrab and other Afghans have suffered.
Ultimately, he realizes that his redemption will not come from only helping Sohrab. Amir finds out that the only way to heal the violence done to Hassan and Sohrab is to finally forgive himself.
A Man For All Seasons:
How does violence in
The Kite Runner
compare to violence in
A Man For All Seasons
Henry VIII uses violence in his death sentence for More in order to silence his opinions and ideas.
The Taliban use violence in
The Kite Runner
for the same reasons. An example would be how the Taliban forbid women to be educated, and enforce deadly punishments upon them for opposing their extremist mentalities.
King Henry uses violence as a way to control and maintain power. He uses violence to place himself above the law.
The Kite Runner
, the Taliban use violence for this same reason. They use fear and brutality to keep the Afghanistan population within their control, and bend the laws how they deem fit. An example would be how the Taliban forbid listening to music, yet they themselves continue to listen to it.
Assef uses violence against both Hassan, Amir, and Sohrab in order to convey his notions of personal empowerment.
Because Amir immigrates to the United States while he is still growing up, the question of his national identity is especially complex.
Baba sees America as a refuge and becomes enthralled, as Amir says, with "the idea of America."
He identifies with American optimism and freedom of choice, and even hangs a framed picture of Ronald Reagan on the wall of their apartment.
Up until his death, Baba is a guest in America; Afghanistan is undeniably the place where he can be himself. There, he was a successful and influential figure. In America, he must work at the gas station and suffer the humiliation of being a foreigner, as with the Nguyens.
For young Amir, America is not only politically free, but more importantly, free of Hassan and memories of him.
He uses the image of a river to describe the exhilaration and cleansing effect that being in America has on him. He opens his arms wide to America, even though he maintains Afghan traditions regarding courtship and writes a novel about Afghanistan.
Because he comes into adulthood in America, Amir does not suffer along with his fellow Afghans. As he discovers, this makes all the difference in defining his national identity.
Amir's coming to Afghanistan should by all accounts be a homecoming, but Amir can never truly revisit his homeland; it no longer exists as he knew it.
In the interim between Amir's leaving Kabul and his return, the Soviets, warring factions, and the Taliban have all turned it from a culturally rich and bustling place into a ghost town of beggars among the rubble and hanging corpses.
Amir can no longer be an Afghan because being an Afghan has become synonymous with having survived terror, if not much worse.
“Our true nationality is mankind.” - H.G. Wells
“The important thing is neither your nationality nor the religion you professed, but how your faith translated itself in your life” - Eleanor Roosevelt
“We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality. Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities.” - Franklin Roosevelt
According to Farid, Amir never had an Afghan identity to lose.
He tells Amir that his privileged upbringing has made him a "tourist" in Afghanistan all his life.
Amir himself tells Rahim Khan that he cannot go to Afghanistan because he has a wife, a home, and a life in America.
Through these conversations, Hosseini asks what constitutes a homeland, a
If Farid is right, then Amir has no homeland.
However, once Farid finds out why Amir has returned to Afghanistan, he changes his opinion of him. He seems to accept him as a friend, if not a countryman.
According to the novel, one's homeland depends not only on one's emotional attachment to a place but one's tangible devotion to it.
Hosseini seems to suggest that to make a place one's homeland, one must be willing not merely to dwell on nostalgic feelings but to put them into action.
Whether like Farid, by fighting in a trench, or like Amir, by trying to save another from the homeland itself.
A Man For All Seasons:
How does sin & redemption in
The Kite Runner
compare to
A Man For All Seasons
Henry VIII seeks redemption for marrying Catherine of Aragon, his brothers widow. He believes that because he married Catherine, God punished him by not giving them a male heir to the throne.
Amir feels that he has also been robbed of the privilege of having children. Amir's poor treatment and neglect of Hassan leads Amir to believe that this is the reason he and Soraya cannot conceive.
When Amir redeems himself through both his saving of Sohrab, and his willingness to forgive himself, he finally becomes the father figure he has always wanted to be.
1) What role do you think nationality plays in

Things to think about . . .
2) How do you think nationality plays into your
own identity?
Man for All Seasons
In Islam, as in Christianity, the lamb signifies the sacrifice of an innocent.
Amir describes both Hassan and Sohrab as looking like lambs waiting to be slaughtered.
Amir says this during Hassan’s rape, noting that Hassan resembled the lamb they kill during the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-Adha, which honors Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son for God.
Similarly, he describes Sohrab as looking like a slaughter sheep when he first sees Sohrab with Assef. Assef and the others had put mascara on Sohrab’s eyes, just as Amir says the mullah used to do to the sheep before slitting its throat.

Blood represents a number of things in
The Kite Runner
. The violation of Hassan is the primary use of blood in the text.
Similarly to the spilling of blood during the conflicts in Afghanistan, blood in this instance represents the idea of sacrifice.
We are directly told that Hassan is the sacrifice that Amir makes for both Baba and Afghanistan; "Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay to win Baba."
During Hassan's rape, Amir bites down on his knuckles so hard that it draws blood, connecting him to his brother who leaves tiny drops of blood on the ground which stained the snow black.
After Hassan's rape, when Amir meets him at the pomegranate tree, Amir challenges Hassan to confront him by throwing blood-red fruit at him. Instead, Hassan squishes the pomegranate against his own head, resulting in "red dripping down his face like blood" - this foreshadows Hassan's death when he is shot in the head by the Taliban.
After the rape and kite tournament, Baba throws Amir a large birthday party. Amir says “I didn’t want any of it - it was all blood money. Baba would never have thrown me a party like this if I hadn’t won the tournament”.
This usage of "blood money" establishes a connection to Judas' betrayal of Jesus, and the blood money he received for the sacrifice of his friend.

“I hurled the pomegranate at him. It struck him in the chest, exploded in a spray of red pulp...when I finally stopped, exhausted and panting, Hassan was smeared in red like he’d been shot by a firing squad.”
"I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked, saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles."
Blood is also a symbol used with Baba
When Baba becomes ill, he is depicted as having bloodstained phlegm as a result of his cancer.
It is blood which also prevents Baba from claiming Hassan as his son - it is not because he is illegitimate, but because Hassan is half Hazara.
In this sense, both Amir and Baba sacrifice Hassan for the same reason.
Amir dreams that Assef tells him "we're the same, you and I. You nursed with him, but you're my twin."
Blood also plays a significant role when Sohrab attempts suicide.
Amir views Sohrab's blood as an extension of Hassan's sacrifice, and thus, as part of Amir's responsibility.
“My hands are stained with Hassan’s blood; I pray God doesn’t let them get stained with the blood of his boy too."
Blood is not used only as a tool to represent death, but also life.
When Amir and Soraya try unsuccessfully to have a child, they consider adopting. However, the notion of bloodlines and lineage interrupts their plans.
The General tells them that "blood is a powerful thing...when you adopt, you don't know whose blood you're bringing into your house"
Blood in relation to family connections also speaks to the reason that Baba will not openly acknowledge Hassan as his son.
"I pretended I hadn’t seen the dark stain in the seat of his pants or those tiny drops that fell from between his legs and stained the snow black."
Amir describes Hassan as a beautiful boy with the "face of a Chinese doll chiseled from hardwood, but with a cleft lip, just left of mid line, where the Chinese doll maker's instrument may have slipped, or perhaps he had simply grown tired and careless."
The split in Hassan’s lip acts as a mark of Hassan’s status in society.
It signifies his poverty, which is one of the things that separates him from Amir, simply because a cleft lip indicates that he and his family do not have the money to fix the deformity.
Assef splits Amir’s lip as he beats him, leaving Amir with a permanent scar much like Hassan’s: "Clean down the middle...like a harelip."
In a sense, Amir’s identity becomes merged with Hassan’s.
He learns to stand up for those he cares about, as Hassan once did for him, and he becomes a father figure to Sohrab.
Because of this, the cleft lip also serves as a sign of Amir’s redemption.
Amir's scar from this incident leaves him with a physical scar which can now begin to heal, which contrasts the invisible scar Baba left on him.
Baba chooses to pay a surgeon to repair Hassan’s lip as a birthday gift, signifying his secret fatherly love for Hassan.
Amir is jealous when Baba gives Hassan this gift, and says "I wished I too had some kind of scar that would beget Baba's sympathy. It wasn't fair. Hassan hadn’t done anything to earn Baba’s affections; he’d just been born with that stupid harelip."
Amir does have a scar from his experiences with Baba, only his is on his heart, and is invisible even to him.
Hassan’s cleft lip is one of his most representative features as a child, and it is one of the features Amir refers to most in describing him.
His cleft lip is a symbol for the genetic split in Afghan society (Hassan himself is also representative of this, as his mother was a Hazara and his father a Pashtun).
It can also be seen as a divider in Afghanistan history. The hair lip symbolizes the split life between the glory years of Amir's boyhood and the Taliban takeover.
Cleft Lip:
Cleft Lip
"Sanaubar had taken one glance at the baby in Ali's arms, seen the cleft lip, and barked a bitter laughter."
"The face of Afghanistan is that of a boy with a
thin-boned frame, a shaved head, and low-set ears, a boy with a Chinese doll face perpetually lit by a harelipped smile."

"The wound healed with time. Soon, it was just a pink jagged line running up from his lip. By the following winter, it was only a
faint scar. Which was ironic. Because that was the winter that Hassan stopped smiling."

His thoughts after the rape portray the kite as a sign of his betrayal of Hassan.
Amir does not fly a kite again until he does so with Sohrab at the end of the novel.
Because Amir has already redeemed himself by that point, the kite is no longer a symbol of his guilt.
The kite now acts as a reminder of his childhood, and it also becomes the way that he is finally able to connect with Sohrab, mirroring the kite’s role in Amir’s relationship with Baba.
"Every winter, districts in Kabul held a kite-fighting tournament. If you were a boy in Kabul, the day of the tournament was undeniably the highlight of the cold season...In Kabul, fighting kites was a little like going to war."
"I glanced up and saw a pair of kites, red with long blue tails, soaring in the sky. They danced high
above the trees on the west end of the park, over the windmills, floating side by side like a pair of eyes looking down on San Francisco...And suddenly Hassan’s voice whispered in my head: 'For you, a thousand times over.'"
The kite serves as symbols of happiness, guilt, and violence. Like Amir describes in the quote, fighting kites was a form of war.
For Amir, he wars over the tension of the battle for the actual kite, the sadness of his inner battle over not protecting Hassan, the battle for Baba's affections and praise, and the battle over Sohrab.

Flying kites is what Amir enjoys most as a child, not least because it is the only way that he connects fully with Baba, who was once a champion kite fighter.
Kites are the only thing that Baba and Amir have in common. Everything else about them, their personalities, hopes, and dreams are all so different.
But the kite takes on a different significance when Amir allows Hassan to be raped because he wants to bring the blue kite back to Baba.
To bring home the last fallen kite is a trophy of honour, and Amir will go to any lengths in order to ensure he has this winning prize to present to Baba.
Amir betrays Hassan to get this trophy.
Later, Sohrab becomes the last fallen kite, as Assef and Amir both fight to get the prized possession of their mutual interest; Hassan.
"Kites are the one paper-thin slice of intersection between spheres of their existence."
The book opens describing two kites flying over the water, which reminds Amir of his childhood.
The two kites symbolize Hassan and Amir, with their relationship which is never properly grounded. They inevitably bump edges, either accidentally or purposely.
The two are the perfect team; the kite fighter and the kite runner. However, they are doomed to fail because Amir holds Hassan in such an inferior role in his life.
The Lamb:
"He moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face. Saw the resignation in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb."
"The prophet Ibrahim almost sacrificed his own son for God. Baba has handpicked the sheep again this year, a powder white one with crooked black ears."
"Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba."
Both Hassan and Sohrab are innocents who are figuratively sacrificed by being raped, but these sacrifices have very different meanings.
In Hassan’s case, Amir sacrifices him for the blue kite.
In Sohrab’s case, Amir is the one who stops his sexual abuse. In this context, sacrifice is portrayed as the exploitation of an innocent.
When Assef rapes Hassan, Amir catches "a glimpse of [Hassan's] face. Saw the recognition in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb."
Amir is a coward who willingly sells out Hassan for his own selfish goals; "Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay to win Baba.
Hassan makes the final forfeit - He defends Amir, even though he knows Amir has betrayed him.
"The custom is to not let the sheep see the knife. All feeds the animal a cube of sugar--another custom, to make death sweeter. The sheep kicks, but not much. The mullah grabs it under its jaw and places the blade on its neck. Just a second before he slices the throat in one expert motion, I see the sheep's eyes. It is a look that will haunt my dreams for weeks. I don't know why I watch this yearly ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch. I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal's eyes. Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose."
The Lamb
The Great Gatsby
, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg represent the eyes of God, who oversees the characters actions, faults, and deeds.
This connection between
The Kite Runner
The Great Gatsby
was likely created on purpose, especially because Hassan is involved in the quote. Hassan's involvement establishes him as a righteous person; Hassan was aware of Amir's betrayals, and still loved him anyways.
The kites that are like eyes can be symbolic for Hassan's eyes, watching over Amir. Amir knows he must now make choices and decisions which Hassan would be proud of.
"Above the yellow land and the spasms of bleak rust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T.J.Eckleburg are blue and small - their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a existent foot. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Kings, and then shank down himself into external blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground."
"'God knows what you’ve been doing, everything you’ve been doing. You may fool me, but you can’t fool God!'
Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night."
Full transcript