This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara and the son of Amir's father's servant, Ali, spend their days in a peaceful Kabul, kite fighting, roaming the streets and being boys. Amir’s father (who is generally referred to as Baba, "daddy", throughout the book) loves both the boys, but seems critical of Amir for not being manly enough. Amir also fears his father blames him for his mother’s death during childbirth. However, he has a kind father figure in the form of Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend, who understands Amir better, and is supportive of his interest in writing stories. Assef, a notoriously mean and violent older boy with sadistic tendencies, blames Amir for socializing with a Hazara, according to Assef an inferior race that should only live in Hazarajat. He prepares to attack Amir with his steel knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot Assef in the eye with his slingshot. Assef and his henchmen back off, but Assef says he will take revenge. Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without even watching it. One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally Baba's praise. Hassan goes to run the last cut kite, a great trophy, for Amir saying "For you, a thousand times over." Unfortunately, Hassan runs into Assef and his two henchmen. Hassan refuses to give up Amir's kite, so Assef exacts his revenge, assaulting and raping him. Wondering why Hassan is taking so long, Amir searches for Hassan and hides when he hears Assef's voice. He witnesses the rape but is too scared to help him. Afterwards, for some time Hassan and Amir keep a distance from each other. Amir reacts indifferently because he feels ashamed, and is frustrated by Hassan's saint-like behavior. Already jealous of Baba's love for Hassan, he worries if Baba knew how bravely Hassan defended Amir's kite, and how cowardly Amir acted, that Baba's love for Hassan would grow even more. To force Hassan to leave, Amir frames him as a thief, and Hassan falsely confesses. Baba forgives him, despite the fact that, as he explained earlier, he believes that "there is no act more wretched than stealing." Hassan and his father Ali, to Baba's extreme sorrow, leave anyway. Hassan's departure frees Amir of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in their shadow and his guilt. Five years later, the Russians invade Afghanistan; Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar, Pakistan and then to Fremont, California, where Amir and Baba, who lived in luxury in an expansive mansion in Afghanistan, settle in a run-down apartment and Baba begins work at a gas station. Amir eventually takes classes at a local community college to develop his writing skills. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market in San Jose. There, Amir meets fellow refugee Soraya Taheri and her
Farid manages to secure an appointment with the speaker at his home. He agrees and the two marry. Amir returns to Taliban-controlled Kabul with a guide. Finally. Rahim Khan reveals that Ali was not really Hassan's father. Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan.") Assef agrees to relinquish him.who says the man who does the speeches is not available. and promises that he will never be sent to an orphanage again. Amir learns the fates of Ali and Hassan. from an orphanage.family. "I'm so dirty and full of sin. The director tells Amir to go to a soccer match and the man "who does the speeches" is the man who took Sohrab." Amir goes. who is normally clean shaven. who was a high-ranking officer in Afghanistan. therefore Amir's half-brother. Baba is diagnosed with terminal oat cell carcinoma but is still capable of granting Amir one last favor: he asks Soraya's father's permission for Amir to marry her. recently Sohrab. but Amir doesn't realize who he's sitting across from until Assef starts asking about Ali. he takes a boy. He enigmatically tells Amir "there is a way to be good again. Sohrab is being kept at the home where he is made to dance dressed in women's clothes. Amir. Soraya's father. but he refused. dons a fake beard and mustache. Amir has his meeting with the man in sunglasses. Assef is aware of Amir's identity from the very beginning. Amir and Soraya learn that they cannot have children. because otherwise the Taliban would exact Shariah punishment against him. In order to enter Taliban territory. fulfilling the threat his father had made many years before. Ali was killed by a land mine. brings cash and usually takes a girl back with him. and was murdered. Fifteen years after his wedding. Amir embarks on a successful career as a novelist. Rahim Khan asks Amir to come to Pakistan. Farid. he does not find Sohrab where he was supposed to be: the director of the orphanage tells them that a Taliban official comes often. who is dying from an illness. Once in a while however. and it seems Assef might have been sexually assaulting him. Hassan had a wife and a son. and had returned to Baba’s house as a caretaker at Rahim Khan’s request. From Rahim Khan. Rahim Khan tells Amir that the true reason he has called Amir to Pakistan is to go to Kabul to rescue Hassan's son. Baba and Hassan. The man in sunglasses is eventually revealed to be his childhood nemesis. named Sohrab. After almost having to break that promise (after . but only for a price cruelly beating Amir. Sohrab. Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him. At the house. along with his wife. Hassan was actually the son of Baba. The bad man and the other two did things to me. Amir is saved when Sohrab uses his slingshot to shoot out Assef's left eye. Shortly thereafter Baba dies. However. One day the Taliban ordered him to give it up and leave. by saying that he and Amir have "personal business" with him. and searches for Sohrab at the orphanage. has contempt of Amir's literary aspiration. (Sohrab later says.. However. Assef.
. In the end Sohrab only shows a lopsided smile. Amir manages to take him back to the United States and introduces him to his wife. and Sohrab begins to interact with Amir again. but Amir takes to it with all his heart as he runs the kite for Sohrab. This continues until his frozen emotions are thawed when Amir reminisces about his father. However. Amir shows off some of Hassan’s tricks.". Hassan.decades of war. as demanded by the US authorities. is impossible to get) and Sohrab attempting suicide. Sohrab is emotionally damaged and refuses to speak or even glance at Soraya. while kite flying. saying "For you. a thousand times over. paperwork documenting Sohrab's orphan status.
CHARACTER SKETCHES Amir .
who died during his birth. actually becomes a solution to both problems. All of these factors play into his cowardice in sacrificing Hassan. in order to get the blue kite. who acts as a substitute for Hassan to Amir. or plays tricks on him. as Hassan once did for him. Sohrab. which is why he feels relief even as Assef beats him.The central character of the story as well as its narrator. Amir grows up accustomed to having what he wants. Amir is not any happier. Amir also comes to see Sohrab as a substitute for the child he and Soraya cannot have. Amir. His relationship with Hassan only exacerbates this. He thinks Baba wishes Amir were more like him. Baba. . behaves jealously toward anyone receiving Baba’s affection. Amir describes Sohrab as looking like a sacrificial lamb during his confrontation with Assef. only two things prevent his complete happiness: his guilt and his inability to have a child with Soraya. Amir tries to assert himself by passive-aggressively attacking Hassan. is rich by Afghan standards. His father. which he thinks will bring him Baba’s approval. The only thing he feels deprived of is a deep emotional connection with Baba. When Hassan receives Baba’s attention. for instance. which he blames on himself. On the contrary. He mocks Hassan’s ignorance. Amir never learns to assert himself against anyone else because Hassan always defends him. and that Baba holds him responsible for killing his mother. Though Hassan is Amir’s best friend. In doing this. is beneath him. Amir redeems himself. Amir has a privileged upbringing. his only competition for Baba’s love. and as a self-sacrificing father figure to Sohrab. At the same time. consequently. After allowing Hassan to be raped. Once Amir has married and established a career. a Hazara servant. Amir assumes the roles of Baba and Hassan. his guilt is relentless. Amir feels that Hassan. The change in Amir’s character we see in the novel centers on his growth from a selfish child to a selfless adult. and he recognizes his selfishness cost him his happiness rather than increasing it. but it is actually himself that Amir courageously sacrifices. and as a result.
forgiving. We learn from a note Rahim Khan writes to Amir toward the end of the . Amir’s behavior cannot be rationalized. Baba’s major concern about him is that he doesn’t have the courage to stand up for himself. Second. Hassan grows up with a very particular role in life. independent. and in doing so he sets the example that Amir will follow later when he must choose between saving himself or doing what he knows to be right. and good-natured. As Amir describes him. Hassan’s arc is about not changing at all. Hassan’s innocence gives Amir no justifiable reason to betray Hassan. and this innocence is crucial in creating the drama and symbolism of his rape by Assef. a recurring motif in Islam. he is willing to sacrifice his life to keep the Russian guard from raping the woman with them. he worries. Baba follows through on these beliefs in his own behavior. Hassan learns that it is his duty to sacrifice himself for others. Hassan remains the same: loyal. Hassan readies Amir’s books and his breakfast. Hassan helps Ali with the chores and grocery shopping. Hassan’s rape becomes the sacrifice of an innocent. and Judaism that carries a great deal of symbolic meaning. While Amir is at school getting an education. Baba sets the moral bar in the novel. If Amir cannot take of himself as a boy. Furthermore.Hassan If Amir’s character arc is about growth. As a result. however. making it consummately selfish and reprehensible. What the reader sees of Baba from Amir’s narrative is not the full story. As a servant to Baba and Amir. he is proud. When Amir is a boy. though he sees all the time how much more Amir has. by nature he is not prone to envy. While Amir prepares for school in the morning. but sometimes emotionally distant and impatient. First. and he even tells Amir he is happy with what he has. demonstrating that Baba places great value on doing what is right. he will not have the strength to behave morally as an adult. From the start and through his death. Christianity. When he and Amir flee Kabul. determined. Baba In his words and actions. Hassan comes across as the personification of innocence as a result.
Baba. who is used to being wealthy and well-respected in his community. as Rahim Khan explains in his note. He goes from having wealth and a position of power to working a low-paying job at a gas station and living modestly. privileged life because Hassan was not able to share in it. The move to America is very difficult for Baba. specifically between Amir and Hassan. he is not straining uncomfortably to act one way with Amir and another with Hassan. Baba builds an orphanage. felt guilty over his rich. his guilt diminishes. alienating Amir from Baba while Amir is growing up. and the two grow much closer in Baba’s final years. Baba built the orphanage to make up for the guilt he felt for not being able to acknowledge Hassan as his son. which appears to be a simple act of charity. Amir never sees Baba’s inner conflict because Baba has very much separated his outward appearance from his internal emotions. As a result. he dies genuinely happy. and with Hassan not around.book that Baba was a man torn between two halves. Yet his relationship with Amir improves. Despite the fact that he lost everything he had as a refugee. he is able to open up more with Amir. Baba’s hesitation to reveal his emotions causes Amir to feel that he never knows Baba completely. For instance. feeling proud of Amir and perhaps happy that he was able to build the relationship he always wanted with at least one of his sons. When he no longer has his wealth. . But as Rahim Khan explains.
when Baba says that a boy who doesn’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. stems from his guilt regarding Hassan. and as much as Amir loves Baba. primarily because his mother died giving birth to him. As an adult. That guilt drives the climactic events of the story. and he feels responsible. The more substantial part of Amir’s search for redemption. both of which are inciting incidents that set the rest of the novel in motion. The moral standard Amir must meet to earn his redemption is set early in the book. Early on. he rarely feels Baba fully loves him back. Baba has his own difficulty connecting with Amir. The Love and Tension Between Fathers and Sons Amir has a very complex relationship with Baba. As a boy. Amir’s desire to win Baba’s love consequently motivates him not to stop Hassan’s rape. Amir strives to redeem himself in Baba’s eyes. he can only redeem himself by proving he has the courage to stand up for what is right. however.Themes The Search For Redemption Amir’s quest to redeem himself makes up the heart of the novel. Amir thinks he must win the kite-tournament and bring Baba the losing kite. Amir fails to stand up for himself. including Amir’s journey to Kabul to find Sohrab and his confrontation with Assef. He feels guilty treating Amir well when he can’t acknowledge Hassan as . To redeem himself to Baba.
simply because Assef’s father knows the new president. In Amir’s recollections of his childhood. by bringing Hassan along when he takes Amir out. Later. Kabul’s destruction forces Baba and Amir to flee to California. when he says he became what he is today at the age of twelve. The Persistence of the Past All the characters in the novel feel the influence of the past. Hassan. and toward the end of the novel we watch Amir trying to become a substitute father to Sohrab. to its final sentence. has trouble opening up to Amir. As a result. they murder Hassan and even give Assef a position that lets him indulge his sadism and sexual urges without repercussions. subtly implying that Afghanistan will similarly have its own redemption one day. we see the calm state of Kabul during the monarchy. Amir even feels responsible . he is hard on Amir. The Intersection of Political Events and Private Lives The major events of the novel. from the book’s first sentence. These events have a hand in dictating the novel’s plot and have significant effects on the lives of the characters involved. In contrast with this. or paying for Hassan’s lip surgery. Both of these events factor into Amir’s mission to save Sohrab and his redemption by confronting Assef. His feelings of guilt for his past actions continue to motivate him.his son. When the Taliban take over after that. and he can only show his love for Hassan indirectly. but none so much as Amir and Sohrab. That’s because Amir defines himself by his past. for instance. however. For Amir. the most loving relationship between father and son we see is that of Hassan and Sohrab. follow Afghanistan’s transitions as well. He also fears the abandonment he experienced when his parents died so much that he attempts suicide when Amir says he may have to go back to an orphanage. is killed. Their relationship experiences its own strains as Sohrab. while framed in the context of Amir’s life. and then watch as the Soviet invasion and infighting between rival Afghan groups ruin the country. the past is always with him. the founding of the republic. The establishment of the republic gives Assef an opportunity to harass Amir. The prolonged physical abuse he endured makes him flinch anytime Amir touches him. who is recovering from the loss of his parents and the abuse he suffered. In Sohrab’s case. his past has been so traumatizing that it affects all his behavior.
the past can never be buried. .for the Taliban murdering Hassan because he thinks he set in motion the events that led to Hassan’s death when when he pushed Hassan and Ali out of Baba’s house. As he says on the book’s first page.