The Kite Runner
Wonderful Kites
This page summarizes the Kite Runner, a book about love, loyalty, and kites.

Kite Runner

Kite Runner Movie

The Kite Runner is the first novel by Khaled Hosseini, an American writer of Afghani origin. The title refers to kite running, the practice of chasing after kites whose strings have been cut during aerial combat in kite fighting competitions.

The Kite Runner is set in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion and tells the story of two children of different ethnicities: Hassan and Amir. Hassan is a servant in the household of Amir's family.

The two children are almost the same age and grow up together in the city of Kabul. Their greatest passion is attending the neighborhood kite fighting competition. The goal of this game is to cut the cord of the other kites with one's own kite. Whoever cuts the cord of the last remaining kite and manages to retrieve the downed kite, is the winner.

Although Hassan is the best kite runner in Kabul, the two are not successful until, on his twelfth birthday, Amir is finally able to win the contest. His father Baba feels proud of him for the first time.

It remains however to retrieve the kite whose line Amir had cut, to win the trophy. Hassan sets of on its trail, but he comes across three older boys, who the two friends had already met once, and the head of which, Assef, is motivated by racial hatred for ethnic Hassan, who belongs to a different ethnic group. On that occasion, Hassan had protected his master by threatening the older boys with a sling shot and the boys had fled. But this time, seeing that Hassan is alone, they take revenge by raping him and then leaving the kite behind in exchange.

Amir secretly witnesses the crime, but does not interfere. After this event, Amir feels guilty, and will try to get away from Hassan to avoid the remorse that his presence arouses in him. Amir drives Hassan out of their house by accusing Hassan, and his father Ali, of a theft which Amir himself had simulated.

In 1981, during the Russian invasion in Afghanistan, Amir and his father flee to California. On their journey, Amir's father risks being killed when he tries to save a woman being raped by a Russian soldier.

Amir attends school in the United States and graduates with a degree in English literature. His father, Baba, works at a gas station. Amir falls in love with a girl named Soraya, the daughter of a former Afghan general, and with the help of his father, he marries her. Shortly after the marriage, however, Baba sickens and dies of lung cancer in 1986.

In 2001 his father's friend Rahim Khan, who had remained in Kabul, asks Amir to visit him because he has to give him news of Hassan. Amir arrives by plane in Pakistan. Arrived in Peshawar, Amir meets the family friend, who tells him of the death of Hassan, who was killed by the Taliban while protecting his home in Kabul. Amir also learns that Hassan had a son, Sohrab, who is actually his nephew. Hassan and Amir are in fact brothers, having the same father (Baba).

Amir decides to find his nephew, with the help of Farid, a friend of Rahim Khan. They disguise themselves as Taliban, in order to return to Afghanistan. The trail leads them to a building used as an orphanage. Amir learns that the local Taliban commander has taken Sorhab and other children for his own evil uses.

Amir and his companion travel to a fort controlled by the Taliban in search of Sorhab. Here Amir meets the captain, who is Assef, one of the boys who raped Hassan when he was a child. Assef is now abusing Sohrab. The Taliban commander recognizes Amir, and they make a deal: they will fight and if Amir wins, he can take Sohrab without the guards intervening.

The fight goes badly for Amir, until Sohrab, just like his father many years ago, aims a slingshot at the Taliban officer and the blinds him. Amir takes his nephew and they escape from the fort, chased by the Taliban. They manage to cross the border into Pakistan and reach safety.

In Islamabad, Amir goes to the American embassy and tries to adopt Sohrab, but realizes that it is virtually impossible. When Sohrab realizes that Amir may not be able to adopt him, Sohrab attempts suicide for fear that he will have to return to the orphanage. Fortunately Sohrab is saved, but his suffering is a new source of guilt for Amir. In the end, however, Amir is able to adopt Sohrab and bring him to the United States, thanks to the help of his wife. Now begins the slow and painful process of helping Sohrab forget the abuse that he suffered. In their journey toward healing, Amir and Sohrab, fly kites in the California sky.

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

In The Kite Runner, history and personal responsibility come together in the story of Amir, an Afghan boy who is haunted by the guilt of betraying his childhood friend Hassan, the son of his fathers servant. Beginning with Amir and Hassan's happy kite-flying childhood, and interwoven with the disasters that have befallen Afghanistan: the fall of the monarchy, the Soviet invasion, and the rise of the Taliban, the story of Amir and Hassan is the story of Afghanistan itself. This useful guide to the Kite Runner features an annotated bibliography.

Characters in the Kite Runner

* Amir, the son of Baba is a thin, pale boy with narrow shoulders, light brown eyes and small in stature for his twelve years. He is not very good at sports, but he loves to read and write novels. The first story he writes is read by Rahim Khan and Hassan. Thanks to his victory in kite fighting, he is able to win the approval of his father. Amir betrays his friend Hassan because of his fear. He flees to California with his father and marries an Afghan, Soraya. The two have no children. He returns to Pakistan at the request of Rahim Khan, who is dying and he learns from him that Hassan was his half-brother and that Hassan had a son, Sohrab. After a series of events, including a new confrontation with his old adversary, Assef, he rescues Sohrab. In this way Amir is able to redeem himself.

* Baba, Amir's father is nicknamed Toophan Agha, Mr. Hurricane, because of his strength. He loves soccer and tries every means possible to interest his son in sports, but Amir is not aggressive enough to succeed at competitive sport. Baba also loves Hassan, who is believed to be his son as a result of an affair with his Hazara servant. This causes Amir to be jealous of Hassan. Hassan is very good at sports but he is illiterate, while Amir is very good at school, but has never won a competition. Baba spends most of his time with Rahim Khan, in his study, smoking tobacco and drinking tea. He is very proud and defends at all costs people weaker than him. Baba dies of cancer of the lungs. He hates doctors, especially the Russians doctors. His last act is to ask the General Taheri to agree to let his daughter Soraya marry Amir.

* Rahim Khan is Baba's best friend and business partner. He is a father figure to Amir and appreciates Amir's qualities, which are considered weaknesses by Baba. When he realizes that he is dying, Rahim summons Amir to Pakistan where he reveals the truth about Hassan, and entreats him to rescue Hassan's son Sorhab.

* Ali: he is not Hassan's real father, but raises him as his own. He is kind-hearted. His right leg is atrophied because of polio and the muscles of his face paralyzed.

* Sanaubar : Hassan's mother was a Shiite belonging to the Hazara ethnic group. She is 19 years younger than her husband. She has green eyes and a mischievous smile and easily seduce men with the sensuous sway of her hips. After giving birth to her son, she runs away with a troupe of wandering dancers and singers. She eventually reunites with her son and her grandson Sohrab and lives with him until her death in 1995.

* Hassan, son of Baba and Sanaubar of Hazara origin. He has a perfectly round face, like a doll, with broad, flat nose, almond-shaped eyes, narrow as a leaf of bamboo, golden yellow, green, or blue as sapphires depending on the light. He has a hare lip, as if the doll maker had made a mistake, but Baba had paid for a noted surgeon to correct the deformity. Hassan is very kind to Amir, and is always ready to protect him in case of danger. His best weapon is the slingshot. It turns out that Hassan and Amir are brothers, and that in reality Sanaubar had betrayed her husband with Baba. Hassan and his wife Farzana Hassan are murdered by the Taliban and the child, Sohrab, is left an orphan.

* Assef: son of a friend of the father of Amir. His father's name Mahumud and was a pilot. His father was Afghani and his mother German. In the neighborhood where he lived his word was law. Some boys had nicknamed him "The Ear Eater" (Goshkor). Assef was without doubt the most relentless tormentor of Ali, taunting Hassan because of his origins. One day Hassan threatens Assef with his slingshot, and after some time he takes revenge, by raping him in front of Amir. Assef becomes an important Taliban, the man with the sunglasses, who during an intermission at a soccer game, passes the time by stoning two adulterers to death. that the range of a football game two Justice stoning adulterers. His cruelty and hypocrisy is confirmed by his habit of raping the children at the orphanage, including the son of Hassan, Sohrab.

* Soraya: daughter of General Taheri, is married to Amir. She is not able to bear children. She is very intelligent and that her father wants her to become an important person like a doctor or lawyer. Soraya does not want to listen to her father and she has a dream of being a teacher. Her father sees this as a humble job because she earns little. Amir is able to confider in her. After their marriage, Soraya takes care of Baba as if he were her own father. When Amir proposes that they adopt Sorhab, she is enthusiastic and welcomes him as her own child.

* Sohrab: the son of Hassan and Farzana. When his parents are murdered, Sohrab is placed in an orphanage. After a short time, Sohrab is taken by force by the man with the sunglasses, who is none other than Assef. Sohrab saves the life of Amir, like his father, by using a slingshot: he strikes Assef in the eye with a ball bearing. The child at first is reluctant to trust Amir, but slowly gains confidence and agrees to go to America with him. After a suicide attempt, caused by the fact that Amir had told him he had to go back to an orphanage, the boy becomes mute. His eyes begin to shine again when for the first time seeing Amir chase a kite down.

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