Riverhead Books published the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini in the year 2003. This was the first novel by Hosseini and the plot revolves around an Afghan national who leaves Afghanistan and revisits his country after many years. Human relationships, politics, discrimination are all interwoven into this novel. Kite runners are the people who run behind a kite that is cut in the kite flying competition. The opponent’s kite is cut and the kite is brought back as a trophy. The kite also plays a role in this novel. The Kite Runner was made into a film by the same name in 2007.
Close To Reality
Amir is the protagonist of the novel set against the backdrop of Afghanistan where monarchy falls because of the intervention of Soviet military. This results in the exodus to United States and Pakistan and then there is the rise of the Taliban reign. The changes unfolding in the country is very crucial to understand the play. Amir and his father go to the US. He revisits his homeland after two decades on the request at the request of his father’s friend.
Khaled Hosseini was born in Afghanistan and moved to the US as a young child. He revisited his country after 27 years; so in many ways The Kite Runner is closely related to Hosseini’s life.
The novel is set in the present and is a kind of recollection of the incidents that happened years before. Amir is in the US and he gets a call from Rahim Khan, a family friend. He wants Amir to visit him in Pakistan. This call takes him back to his younger and he remembers his life there. His father Baba was a wealthy business man and his servant is Ali who also has a son named Hassan. Amir and Hassan are almost the same age and are very close. Hassan does everything for Amir. Ali and Hassan belonged to the Hazaras community which was an ethnic minority community. The high class of this country looked down upon this community.
Discrimination And Harassment
For this reason Kamal, Aseef and Wali other friends of Amir tease Hassan and Amir. Amir is confused as he does not know how to take this teasing. He wants to stay away from Hassan but cannot as Hassan was so mild and always helping Amir in everything. Baba also thinks Amir is weak and encourages Hassan to be around Amir and help him. To prove that he was not a weakling Amir enters into a kite flying competition with his friends. He manages to cut their kite and Hassan goes as the kite runner. But he takes a long time to get back. When Amir goes in search he sees Hassan being bullied and finally raped by Aseef and friends. Amir slips away unnoticed. When Hassan gets back neither speak of it but now Amir is completely uncomfortable with the presence of Hassan.
Amir wants Hassan out of the house and frames him with theft. When Baba enquires Hassan does not deny the theft and he is sent out. Soon Baba and Amir also flee the country. They go to the US and the rest of the life is in the US. Baba has to start from scratch and Amir gets educated and marries Soraya. But they do not have any children. It is at this time he receives a call from Rahim Khan. Rahim Khan was a close family friend and he knew all that happened in the Baba household. Now Rahim Khan was ill and dying and wanted to see Amir.
Revisiting And Revelations
Amir goes to Pakistan to see Rahim Khan who relates what happened to Hassan. Hassan was found by Rahim Khan and was asked to come and live in the house where Baba lived. He and his wife Farzana come to live there. Ali, their father, was killed in a land mine. Hassan had a son Sohrab and they were living peacefully in Amir’s house till the Taliban regime brought in untold miseries. Both Hassan and Farzana were killed in the Taliban attack and Sohrab was taken away to an orphanage. Rahim wants Amir to bring back Sohrab from Kabul and hand him over to a couple who were willing to adopt him.
Amir refuses to go to Kabul and Rahim is forced to tell the truth that Hassan was Baba’s son, his brother and that Sohrab was his nephew. Amir then agrees to go. But Amir does not find him in the orphanage but is under the custody of the Taliban. Amir meets the official to explain the situation and take away Sohrab. To his utter dismay he realizes that the official is Afeez, his childhood companion and soon a fight ensues. Somehow Amir escapes with Sohrab and with injuries, almost dead. He recovers soon but realizes there is no one to adopt Sohrab. So he adopts Sohrab but after many trials and adoption procedures. Amir takes Sohrab to the US.
Sohrab feels totally disconnected and withdraws from the activities around him. He yearns for his life with mother, father and Rahim so does not involve in the life in US. The novel concludes with a kite flying event conducted during the celebration of the Afghan New Year. Amir and Sohrab join and they cut another kite which brings a smile on Sohrab’s face. Amir becomes the kite runner to bring the trophy kite for Sohrab. Amir has made up in some way for the injustice meted to Hassan when he was young. We are left with this happy scene.
Women do not have any role in this story. The wives of the Amir and Hassan are alone mentioned. The author told in an interview that it was not intentional but that the story did not demand it. Glimpses of the Taliban regime is seen here. When he sees Sohrab he is dressed almost like a female which suggested that he was being sexually harassed. The transition of peaceful and progressive Afghanistan to a barbaric and regressive Afghanistan is also seen in this novel. It has not been staged but the film by the same name has been received with great appreciation.