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The Kite Runner

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Robin Smithers

on 3 October 2013

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Transcript of The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner
Historical, Political and Cultural Contexts

Factors Leading to Disunity of Afghan
The Taliban since 1996 The People of Afghanistan
Introduction to the Novel and Author
For the majority of its history, Afghanistan was at a crossroad of many civilizations and empires.

The nation of Afghanistan began to
take shape in 1747 after centuries of
fragmentation and rule by invaders.

►Ahmad Khan was crowned king.

►Afghan historians have called him the
founder of the Afghan nation.

Afghans refer to him as Ahmad Shah Baba, Shah=Kingand Baba = Father of Nation
Ahmad Shah belonged to the Saddozai clan (a Pashtunethnic group).
Saddozais ruled Afghanistan
from 1747-1826.
The Mohammadzai clan ruled Afghanistan from 1826-197
Ahmad Shah Baba
President Mohammad Daoud was the last ruler.
He was the Prime Minister from 1953-1963.
He took power from the last Afghan king in 1973 in a coup with the help of Afghan communists and changed Afghanistan to a Republic, 1973-1978.
Mohammad Daoud was deposed by the Afghan communists in a bloody coup in April

President Mohammad Daoud
Afghan rulers tried to build a strong state.
Strong central government would be able to initiate economic development and modernization of Afghanistan.

However, several factors made the above task difficult:

Rivalry between British India and Russia for control of Afghanistan throughout the 19th and parts of the 20th centuries.


The presence of a Russia envoy convinced the British that the Afghan king was friendlier to Russians.
The British invaded Afghanistanin 1839 and replaced the ruler, Shah Shuja.
Eventually, Shah Shuja was killed by the Afghans and the British were exiled.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Afghanistan became
a buffer state between Russia and Britain.
Both Britain and Russia agreed to transform the country into a state and use it as a buffer.
The imperial powers separated Afghanistan’s borders and searched for a new Afghan king.

“Hassan and I looked at each other. Cracked up. The Hindi kid would soon learn what the British learned earlier in the century and what the Russians would eventually learn by the later 1980s: that Afghans are independent people. Afghans cherish customs but dislike rules.” (55)
The New Game
The Soviet Union and United States became the dominant powers after World War II.
The two world powers sought influence around the world, including Afghanistan.
Afghan government needed to modernize its armed forces to:
Maintain internal security
Gain control of independent tribes
Strengthen central government’s political and economic development.

The Cold War
When the U.S. government rejected Afghan request for arms, the Afghans turned to the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union not only provided Afghanistan military hardware but also built several airports, and thousands of Afghans went to the Soviet Union for military training.
Most of the officers either joined the Afghan Communist Party or became sympathetic to it.
The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)was formed in 1965.
The PDPA split and remained divided until July 1977.
Taliban Social Reform
Land reform: limited land ownership by a family to14.3 acres of land
Prohibited arranged marriages
Prohibited marriage for women under 16 years and for men under 18 years of age

These reforms challenged the prevailing traditional and Islamic values and sentiments of Afghans.

The restored law and order but through rigorous enforcement of Islamic punishment: public beating, flogging, amputation of hands, and stoning to death.
The ministry issued strict religious rules that denied people the right to freedom of expression, association, the right to work, and the right to education
They prohibited games such as kite flying, chess, and music.

Taliban Achievements
World Reaction
Only three countries recognized the Taliban government: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan.
The Cold War between the U.S.A. and the
former Soviet Union brought death and utter destruction to the country.
Over 5 million Afghans abandoned their homes and went into exile in other countries.
Close to 1.5 million lost their lives.
Many left their homes for secured areas of the country.
Another Factor that Contributed to a
Failed State in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is nation of groups with disparate ethnic, religious, and tribal

The world Taliban is the plural of the Arabic word, Talib, or someone who seeks religious knowledge before he becomes a preacher in a mosque.
They were the sons of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and attended Pakistani schools of theology.
The Taliban became active in October 1994 in Qandahar and continued their advances in the country with the help of Pakistan.
By 1997, they held about 90 percent of the Afghan territory, including Kabul.

The Taliban
1996 - Taliban seize control of Kabul, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputations.
1997- Taliban recognized as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Taliban now control about two-thirds of country.
1998 - US launches missile strikes at suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US embassies in Africa.
1999 - UN financial sanctions to force Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial.

The 1990s
May - Taliban order religious minorities to wear tags identifying themselves as non-Muslims, and Hindu women to veil themselves like other Afghan women.
September - Taliban attacks the US- The World Trade Centers are the targets of terrorism.
October - US, Britain launch air strikes against Afghanistan after Taliban refuse to hand over Osama bin Laden, held responsible for the September 11 attacks on America.

The 2000s
May - Violent anti-US protests in Kabul, the worst since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, erupt after a US military vehicle crashes and kills several people.
October - NATO assumes responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan, taking command in the east from
Afghanistan Today
Afghanistan is an ethnically diverse country. Its inhabitants form a complex mosaic of ethnic and linguistic groups, a history of frequent external occupiers.
As of July 2007, there are approximately 32 million people estimated to live in Afghanistan.

Division of People
Pashtu and Dari are considered the official languages of Afghanistan, and are spoken by 85% of the people.
Thirty other minor languages are also spoken in Afghanistan, representing the last 4% of
the population.
There is also a large degree of bilingualism amongst the inhabitants of the country.
About 99% of the population is Muslim, and of these Muslims, 84% belong to the Sunni sect.
There has been a long history of an ethnic hierarchy within Afghanistan. It has created imbalances in wealth, influence and education within its society.
Traditionally, Pashtuns have dominated the country because they are the presumed majority of the population.
As a result, many of the other ethnic groups have not had a strong voice within the society.
Tajiks account for about 27% of the population of Afghanistan
They are the second largest ethnic community within Afghanistan
They are identified with agriculture and town life

The Hazara ethnic group resides mainly in the central Afghanistan mountain region called ‘Hazarajat’
They make up approximately 9% of Afghanistan’s population
Historically, the Hazara seem to have Mongolian origins, as evidenced by physical attributes
They are a group that is considered to have low income

Hierarchy of People
Khaled Hosseini was born in 1965 in Kabul, Afghanistan, the setting of much of the action in The Kite Runner.
Hosseini and his family moved to Paris in 1976, then immigrated to the United States in 1980 as refugees with political asylum.
Hosseini's parents, a former diplomat and a teacher, settled in San Jose, California, where they subsisted on welfare until his father, working odd jobs, managed to independently support the family.
Hosseini received a biology degree in 1988 from Santa Clara University and a medical degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1993. As of 2005, he is a practicing physician, specializing in internal medicine in Northern California.

About Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini published several stories before writing his first novel, The Kite Runner, which was based on an earlier short story of the same title.
As a doctor with an active practice and many patients, Hosseini struggled to find time to expand the story, so he wrote the novel piecemeal in the early morning hours.
Hosseini contends that treating patients made him a keen observer of people and the ways they express themselves, both verbally and nonverbally.

The action of the story then moves backward in time to the narrator's early life in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he is the only child of a privileged merchant.
Amir's closest friend is his playmate and servant Hassan, a poor illiterate boy who is a member of the Hazara ethnic minority.
The Kite Runner, a coming-of-age novel, deals with the themes of identity, loyalty, courage, and deception.
As the protagonist Amir grows to adulthood, he must come to terms with his past wrongs and adjust to a new culture after leaving Afghanistan for the United States.

Introduction to the Novel
The novel sets the interpersonal drama of the characters against the backdrop of the modern history of Afghanistan, sketching the political and economic toll of the instability of various regimes in Afghanistan; from the end of the monarchy to the Soviet-backed government of the 1980s to the fundamentalist Taliban government of the 1990s.
The action closes soon after the fall of the Taliban and alludes to the rise of Hamid Karzai as leader of a new Afghan government in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001.

In Afghanistan, socioeconomic status was highly correlated with ethnicity. Income inequality was vast as most of the upper class came from the royal tribal clan, while the lower class was comprised of the likes of Hassan's family of The Kite Runner.
The Taliban were Pashtun-based but not all Pashtuns supported the Taliban ideology as evident in The Kite Runner characters of Baba, Rahim Khan and Amir who were opposed to religious extremists.

Kite Runner Connections
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