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The Kite Runner Intro and Context

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Caroline Buchan

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of The Kite Runner Intro and Context

Hosseini starts this chapter by juxtaposing two very different settings.

1) What are these settings?

2)What narrative devices are used to introduce these settings?

3)The Kite Runner is a novel about Afghanistan yet it starts in San Francisco. How does this influence your reading of the novel? The Introduction of Settings The Kite Runner explores Afghanistan from the late 1960's until after the devastating events of the 11th of September 2001. Hosseini uses the novel not only to tell the story of Amir but also of Afghanistan during this period.

Most people are aware of what has happened in Afghanistan post 9/11, however it is important that you have an understanding of the fact that the country had been suffering for many years prior to this event due to the occupation of its land and resources. These problems are explored within the novel. Afghanistan had remained neutral during WW2 and had managed to avoid involvement in the Cold War. There had been movements towards building relationships with the Soviet Union and a sense of distancing themselves from Pakistan.

Education was valued and equality promoted Afghanistan up until the 1970's In 1973, while King Zahir Shah was on an official overseas visit, Daoud Khan launched a bloodless coup and became the first President of Afghanistan. This saw an end to the monarchy.

In April 1978, the communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power in Afghanistan. Within months, opponents of the communist government launched an uprising that quickly expanded into a civil war waged by guerrilla mujaheddin against government forces countrywide. The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini Civil Disruption The Threat From The Soviet Union During the years of the PDPA there was mounting civil unrest within Afghanistan which culminated in the assassination of two Afghan presidents, the second murdered by Soviet forces who went on to assume power within the country.

At the time some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the Middle East. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan in the East, and Iran to the West. American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, feared the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle Eastern oil. 1979-1989 For 10 long and bloody years the Soviets occupied Afghanistan in an attempt to expand the USSR and the reach of communism. This occupation also allowed the soviets control of the oil reserves The 10-year Soviet war resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Afghans, mostly civilians. About 6 million fled to Pakistan and Iran, and from there tens of thousands began emigrating to the European Union, United States, Australia and other parts of the world. The use of the first person narrative

When the novel begins we are introduced to a narrator who remains nameless throughout the first chapter.

1)What effect does this have upon you as a reader?

2)In what ways does the use of a first-person narrative help you to engage with the narrator?

3)What devices does Hosseini use to encourage you to read on?

4)What ideas and themes does this unnamed character introduce us to? Historical Context During the Soviet occupation many atrocities occurred including; The rape of many women and children (mentioned later on in The Kite Runner).
Irrigation systems, crucial to agriculture in Afghanistan's arid climate, were destroyed and farmer's livestock shot.
The population of Afghanistan's second largest city, Kandahar, was reduced from 200,000 before the war to no more than 25,000 inhabitants, following a month-long campaign of carpet bombing.
Land mines had killed 25,000 Afghans during the war and another 10–15 million land mines, most planted by Soviet and government forces, were left scattered throughout the countryside.
The prolonged conflict left Afghanistan ranked 170 out of 174 in the UNDP's Human Development Index, making Afghanistan one of the least developed countries in the world. Following the end of the Soviet occupation ten years of civil disorder followed as tribal groupings such as the Taliban tried to take control of the country.

This led to Afghanistan having little opportunity to regenerate and recover. Many citizens lived in extreme poverty with no hope for the future.

Civil liberties were limited for example the reintroduction of the Burka, men forced to grow their hair and beards, music being banned, history books being rewritten and more.

Educational freedom was quashed as teachers were forced to incorporate Fundamentalist religious ideals (strict and narrow interpretations of a religion).

Women's rights diminished to the extent that in some cities where Taliban control was rife they were not even allowed to leave the house without a male chaperone. Men were once again encouraged to have multiple wives.

Much of this is explored within the novel. Life After The Soviet Occupation September 11th 2001 On Tuesday 11th September an extremist faction from Afghanistan (Al-Qaeda) led by Osama Bin Laden launched a series of attacks on America. Their justification for this was anger at perceived Western interference in the Middle East.

While this event led to a large loss of life in the USA it also led to the declaration of the War on Terror which still continues in Afghanistan to this day. Quick Quiz on Context 1) Was Afghanistan involved in WW2?
2) What did American politicians fear the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan was trying to achieve?
3) List 3 of the legacies of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
4) What happened in Afghanistan after the Soviet occupation?
5) What effect did the Taliban rule have upon the population of Afghanistan? List 2 examples.
6) Who launched the attack on America on 9/11?
Mass grave in Afghanistan Killing of livestock and destruction of cargo Just some of the retrieved landmines left from the Soviet occupation. The Red Cross estimate it would take 4200 years to find them all. Can you identify any of these contextual issues being explored within the first chapter of the novel?

How does Hosseini establish a difference between the past and the present? What narrative devices does he use?

What are your first impressions of the narrator? What shapes these impressions? REMEMBER
In Section A(a) of your exam you only need to discuss HOW THE STORY IS TOLD. You will focus entirely on Assessment Objective 2 - The use of language/form/structure and how these help to tell the story e.g. The author's use of narrative devices.

In Section A(b) You explore the following Assessment Objectives;
Assessment Objective 1 - Use of written expression, the more sophisticated and fluent the better.
Assessment Objective 3 - Interpretations and Analysis
Assessment Objective 4 - Links to relevant contextual factors
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