Study Guide for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Book Summary

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Amir is the protagonist, because it is his story - a story that details his childhood in Afghanistan and the terrible sin he commits against Hassan, a Hazara boy who also happens to be his half-brother. It also details how he eventually returns to his homeland to atone for that sin by finding Hassanís son, Sohrab, and bringing him home.


The antagonist is, on the surface, the man named Assef, who is a bigoted childhood acquaintance of Amir and Hassan. He torments them both, but actually attacks and rapes Hassan. Later, when the Taliban gains control of Afghanistan, he becomes one of them so he can continue to torture others he finds inferior to himself. He also takes Sohrab as his sexual plaything and Amir must defeat Assef to bring Sohrab home and to the family he deserves. the other antagonist is Amirís sin which he mmust expiate before he can find redemption.


Amir meets Assef, now a Talib, in hand-to-hand combat and Sohrab, like his father before him, saves Amir with a slingshot.


Amir recovers from his terrible beating and they get out of Afghanistan and flee to Pakistan. There, he tries to find a way to take Sohrab to the United States. However, he runs into many bureaucratic walls and snafus. He is finally told that if he places Sohrab into an orphanage temporarily, he might have an easier time getting the necessary paperwork. Sohrab tries to commit suicide at this news and even though he is saved and they find a way to get him to America, he retreats from any trust in Amir or anyone else. It is only when they participate in a kite flying contest in America that Sohrab comes out of his silence and begins to heal. It is also the moment when Amir makes his final atonement for the sins he committed against Hassan, Sohrabís father.


Amir tells us about the unique relationship he has with Hassan, a Hazara boy who is the victim of discrimination, but ironically is the half-brother of Amir, a Pashtun. Amir is overwhelmed with guilt when he allows Hassan to be beaten and raped on the day Amir wins the kite flying tournament. He lies to have Hassan accused of theft so he will leave their home and Amir can try to forget his guilt. Eventually, Amir and his father flee Afghanistan after the Russians invade and Amir takes his tragic memories to America to start a new life.

Unfortunately, his debt to Hassan must be paid and he returns to his country to find Hassanís orphaned son and rescue him. There, he discovers that Sohrab has become the sexual plaything of Assef, the bully who had tormented both Amir and Hassan when they were young. Ultimately, Amir must defeat Assef in a raging physical battle, take the damaged Sohrab out of Afghanistan and try to help him repair his spirit.

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