Dr. Susannah Chewning
04 December 2006
In Khaled Hosseini\u2019s book, The Kite Runner the author brings the reader on a journey
through Afghanistan\u2019s history through the eyes of the central character of the story: Amir. The
Kite Runner is a haunting tale about the friendship between Amir and Hassan and the choices
they make while growing up in Kabul. Although, Amir and Hassan are raised in the same
household, and are fed from same breast, they grow up in different realities: Amir aPashtuns and
the son of a rich man, Hassan a Hazara and Amir\u2019s servant. In this paper I will discuss the
similarities and differences between Amir and Hassan based on their social status, religion,
personality and parental relationships.
Religion is a significant element in Middle Eastern cultures, and is important to the theme of
this story. According to Hafizullah Emadi, \u201cthe Sunni majority dominated political power,
suppressed the Shia minority and subjected them to the Sunni legal system\u201d (Emadi 165).
Although Amir and Hassan are both Muslims they approached their faiths differently. Hassan, a
devout Shi\u2019a Muslim, embraces his religion and demonstrates how his faith provides him
strength in the face of adversity. His devotion to his faith is revealed through the eyes of Amir
when Hosseini writes, \u201cHassan never missed any of the five daily prayers. Even when we were
out playing, he\u2019d excuse himself, draw water from the well in the yard, wash up, and disappear
into the hut\u201d (Hosseini 69).
Amir, a Sunni Muslim, is confused and uncertain about his faith, he exposes this when he
recalls the winter when he and Hassan were running kites, \u201cAnd may God\u2014if He exists, that is
\u2014strike me blind if the kite didn\u2019t just drop into his outstretched arms\u201d (Hosseini 55). "Sunni
Muslims preserved their unity by coming to accept four rival but equally valid legal Islamic
schools of thought\u201d that Shia Muslim do not follow (\u201cDoes it have to be war?\u201d). Amir\u2019s
uncertainty about God and his faith impact his decision making; often with negative
consequences. Amir choices not only affect him but also Hassan, Ali, and Baba.
Amir and Hassan\u2019s social status not only affect the way they interact with each other but how
others interact with them. Amir, a Pashtun, is the privileged son of a wealthy merchant. His
father, Baba, fulfills his every want and need. Amir has the opportunity to attend school and to
receive an education. Amir discovers differences between Hassan and Himself from one of his
mothers books, \u201cThe book said part of the reason Pashtuns had oppressed the Hazaras was that
Pashtuns were Sunni Muslims, while Hazaras were Shi\u2019a\u201d (Hosseini 9). At times in the story
Amir is protected by his father\u2019s social status. Hassan is a Hazara and the son of Amir's crippled
servant Ali, and is Amir\u2019s playmate and servant. Hassan irons Amir\u2019s clothes and prepares his
meals with his father. Amir only plays with him when there are no other children to play with.
Unlike Amir, Hassan does not have the opportunity to attend school, and remains illiterate
through out most of the story. Hassan is often harassed whenever Amir and Hassan go out in
The parental relationships that Amir and Hassan have are an important element in this story.
Hassan grows up motherless. Sannaubar, his mother, abandoned him and his father five days
after his birth. However, Hassan has a loving relationship with his father Ali. The love that Ali
shows Hassan is clear throughout the book. Like Hassan, Amir too grows up motherless.
However, Amir\u2019s mother dies during his birth and feels guilty for her death. Amir longs for his
father\u2019s affection and acceptance and believes that he is to blames for the lack of interest of his
father. Amir contemplating his father acceptance after wining the kite tournament reveals this
when the Hosseini writes, \u201cMaybe he\u2019d call me Amir jan like Rahim Kahn did. And maybe, just
maybe, I would finally be pardoned for killing my mother\u201d (Hosseini 56). Amir\u2019s longs for his
fathers acceptance and love, and will do anything to meet achieve his desire.
Although Amir and Hassan both grew up together motherless, under the same roof, this is
where their similarities end. Hassan, very mature at his young age remained loyal to Amir
throughout the entire story. He had a strong relationship with his father, Ali, and embraced his
religion. In contrast, Amir unsure that God existed had a strained relationship with his father.
Amir\u2019s desperate need for his father\u2019s acceptance is the impetus to please his father. Amir
sacrifices his friendship with Hassan in his attempts to become closer with his father, and turns a
sweet victory into an agonizing defeat that carries on to his adulthood.
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