Monday, March 23, 2009

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amir is the main character in the novel. He witnesses the racially motivated sexual assault of his friend/servant Hassan, perpetrated by a gang of neighborhood bullies. Hassan is a Hazara, a minority ethnic group of Shi'a Muslims. He is attacked by a group of Pashtu boys, lead by Assef, a young boy who heavily identifies with Hitler’s doctrine. After this attack, Amir feels deep guilt and shame, which causes him to shut Hassan out of his life. His father wants him to change his ways and likewise Amir tries to be the son his father always wanted, but is constantly reminded of Hassan. Even after he and his father, Baba, flee Afghanistan during the Russian occupation and find a new home in America, Amir still cannot rid himself of his memories and regret.

Having left Afghanistan, Amir settles down in America, marries an Afghan woman, and becomes a successful writer. Yet, a walk in the park after a phone call from Pakistan, reminds him of the joy he felt as a child in Afghanistan kite running with Hassan.

Like many other inexpensive sports in Asian countries, Kite running, in which children attempt to cut down each other's kite strings, is a popular winter pastime among Afghan children. Kite strings are coated with glue and broken glass, allowing the strings to slice through another kite’s string. A kite runner is a child who runs after and retrieves the kites after they are cut. The greatest prize a kite runner can earn is retrieving the last kite cut during a tournament.

The last happy moment Amir and Hassan share occurs when Amir wins the winter kite tournament as his father watches. He sends Hassan, his kite runner, to fetch the last kite so that Amir can present it to his father. When Hassan goes kite running, he is attacked.

With the progression of time Amir is presented with the opportunity to make things right. He receives a call from Rahim Khan, his father’s friend, who requests that Amir travel to Pakistan to see him. During this meeting he tells Amir that Hassan is his half brother. He also tells Amir that Hassan has been killed by the Taliban. Hassan’s son, Sohrab, is still in Afghanistan, and Rahim Khan asks Amir to return to Kabul to save Hassan’s son.

The past haunts Amir. He decides to travel into Taliban ruled Afghanistan to find Sohrab. Eventually, Amir finds Sohrab and brings him back to America, and his guilty conscience gets rested.