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Study Guide for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Book Summary

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THEMES - THEME ANALYSIS


The theme of strength of character is the most prevalent theme. Amir commits terrible sins against his friend and half-brother, Hassan. The story of what he does and how he seeks and finds atonement is a lesson for everyone who wants to do find a way to be good again.

The theme of the resilience of the human spirit is also an important idea. Even though Amir has committed these sins, the inner strength that he had all along, but thought was somehow missing from his character, breaks though to allow him to find Sohrab and free him from the clutches of Assef. In this same way, when Sohrab falls into a great inner depression and tries to commit suicide, the spirit within him emerges and he finds his way to happiness again.

The theme of manís inhumanity to man is a theme which makes the reader think about how we torture each other because of our need for power in our lives. It is true as seen in this novel that there are essentially evil individuals who are impossible to redeem and that the evil they do affects all people around them. Assef is such a character. He enjoys hurting others physically, emotionally, and psychologically. If there is a Hell, he is bound for it. However, there is also the evil found in all of us, no matter how good we are most of the time, which allows us to do bad things to those we love the most.

The reasons may vary for why we commit such sins, but in the end, it is all about needing some sort of power in our lives. Fortunately, this evil is redeemable when we are ready to atone and right the wrongs we have committed. Amir is such a man. He is essentially good, but the evil he does as a child follows him into his adulthood, and he must find a way to expiate those sins for his own sake and also for the sake of Sohrab.

Another theme that is emphasized throughout is that of the fragile relationship between fathers and sons. Amir spends his entire life trying to be the son who will not disappoint his father and making up for the death of his mother who died while giving birth to him. Many of the sins he commits are in the hopes that his father will believe in him, embrace him, and tell him how proud of him he is. It is only when Amir grows up, watches how valiantly his father faces his own death, and then returns to Afghanistan to right the wrongs he had committed that he realizes that his father had always loved him and was proud of him. It is unfortunate that men find it difficult to show their love to their sons for fear of somehow being less of a man. Amir would have loved to have had a loving relationship with Baba, and we who watch him struggle to find it identify with his need for parental approval.


Another theme would be loyalty and devotion. This is especially evident in the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Despite the fact that Hassan is actually Amirís half-brother, he is his servant, because no one but Baba and Ali know the truth. Nonetheless, even though Hassan is the victim of discrimination and class structure, he is completely devoted and loyal to Amir, both as his servant and as his friend. It takes Amir many years to atone for how terribly he treated the loyalty and love that Hassan always offered no matter what the circumstances.

A final theme involves discrimination, bigotry, and class structure in Afghan society. Hassan and Ali are members of the Hazaras, a minority group of Afghanis who follow Islamic beliefs called Shiía. Amir and his father are Pashtuns, the majority, who believe they are from a better class than the Hazara and who follow the Sunni sect of Islam. Because of this bigotry and basic class structure, it is very difficult for anyone to marry into another class and the Hazaras are often victims of physical, emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of Pashtuns. This is partly why Amir does not come to Hassanís rescue when he is attacked by Assef.

The theme of rape is another one of significance, because it occurs symbolically and literally. Hassan and Sohrab are both raped by Assef, while Kamal who pariticpated in Hassanís rape is later raped when the country disintegrates into civil war. Rape also is a descriptive term for what the civil war and later the Taliban does to Afghanistan. It is also a significant term in describing what the experiences he faced do to Sohrabís mind and spirit. This rape leads to his suicide attempt.


RISING ACTION


The rising action begins with the telephone call from Rahim Khan asking Amir to return to Afghanistan to rescue Sohrab. It then progresses through Amirís flashback to his childhood and ends at the climax when he finally defeats the villain, Assef, with the help of Sohrab and his slingshot.


FALLING ACTION


After Assef is defeated, Amir must find a way to get him into the United States. He betrays Sohrab by asking him to go into an orphanage temporarily and Sohrab then tries to commit suicide. Amir rescues him again and then with help of his Uncle Sharif, obtains a humanitarian visa for Sohrab. Nonetheless, Sohrab finds it impossible to face life for awhile. It is only when Amir flies a kite with him that he begins to smile again and the future finally looks bright.


POINT OF VIEW


It is written in first person point of view and narrated by Amir.


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