The kite runner is a story about two Afghan boys who grow up together in the same house but they were from different social classes. Amir, a Pashtun who is the son of wealthy Afghanistan business man. And Hassan, a Hazara who is his loyal friend and the son of Ali, Amir's father's servant who belongs to the historically downtrodden Hazara minority. They are raised together in Amir's father house, playing and kitting on the streets of a peaceful Kabul, Afghanistan in the 70's when the country is in a time of an ending monarchy. Amir feels that his wise and good father Baba blames him for the death of his mother in the delivery, and also that his father loves and prefers Hassan to him. In return, Amir feels a great respect for his father's best friend Rahim Khan, who supports his intention to become a writer.
Amir seemingly was very happy and successful child. In fact, he was constantly chasing something he could never get, and later on he became a victim of his own memories, which haunted him in his adulthood. This book begins “I became what I am today at the age of twelve”. This quote is very significant for understanding the whole novel and Amir’s behavior. As I learned from the book, Amir and his servant Hassan were living together. Hassan is loyal and loves his master Amir, but on the other hand, Amir doesn’t feel the same way. Instead, he tries to put Hassan down and shows his superiority over him. Knowing that his servant would do anything for him, Amir acts in very cruel and hostile way.
There are many oversimplifications and stereotypes, even if they may be from a reality-based ideology. The ethnic group of the Hazara and the Pashtun is not entirely developed. Amir was always referred to as a Pashtun but the background of the Pashtun isn’t fully touched upon. The narrator only focuses on the Mongolian-like physical features of the Hazara’s, and because of this diversity, they are considered a more lowly class than Pashtuns. They are commonly viewed as an outsider; only being fully accepted into society to be servants for wealthy Pashtuns like Amir, and his Baba. Assef, the hated and much renowned bully in Kabul who just happens to worship Hitler and his beliefs of ethnic-cleansing, is a stereotype. He is a violent older boy with sadistic tendencies, mocks Amir for socializing with a Hazara, which is, according to Assef, an inferior race that should only live in Hazarajat. He prepares to attack Amir with brass knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot out Assef's left eye with his slingshot. Assef and his posse back off, but Assef threatens revenge. I loathed him when reading this novel, but in every story there has to be the “good guy” and the “bad guy,” which are also labels. Of course there always has to be two goons backing the bully; Wali and Kamal in this case. Assef portrayed the perfect evil character; the child raping, Hitler-worshipping racial-supremacist! It’s a given to hate this guy, he is committing the ultimate crime that everyone disgusts.
Hassan who is a natural runner in knowing where the cut kites will eventually land. After Amir winning a competition of kitting, Hassan runs to bring a kite to Amir, but he is beaten and raped by the Assef in an empty street to protect Amir's kite; the coward Amir witness the assault but does not help the loyal Hassan. On the day after his birthday party, Amir hides his new watch in Hassam's bed to frame the boy as a thief and force his father to fire Ali. Eventually, Amir‘s behavior leads to extreme situations and Hassan decides to leave Amir’s house. This event happened when Amir was twelve, and this is what the quote is referring to. It is the day when boys separate and Amir’s guilt and shame starts to haunt him.
In 1979, the Russians invade Afghanistan and Baba and Amir escape to Pakistan. In 1988, they have a simple life in California, the United States, when Amir graduates in a public college for the pride and joy of Baba. Amir takes classes at a local community college to develop his writing skills. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market. Later Amir meets Soraya, a Pashtun Afghani like himself, who has lived a working class life in the United States after being in the privileged class in Afghanistan and they get married. In 2000, after Baba has passed away, Amir is a famous novelist and receives a phone call from the terminal Rahim Khan, who discloses secrets about his family, forcing Amir to return to Peshawar, in Pakistan for a special mission concerning Hassan's orphaned son, Hassan and his wife having been murdered by the Taliban. When Amir learns of his own family's history in the story, Amir does what he can to honor the memory of his old friend Hassan. He not only has to beware of the Taliban in general, but an old nemesis in particular who has only gotten more sadistic with age.
Moreover, I would like to add my personal reflections on the book viewed in an intercultural communication perspective, although his separation with Hassan played very significant role in the whole plot, this assertion isn’t entirely true. There are other factors that shaped Amir’s character. I realized that Amir always wanted to win his father over. He knew, he was blamed for the death of his mother and this event shaped painful and complicated relationship with Baba. For the whole life he tried to be loved by his own father.
The other factor that definitely helped Amir to shape his personality was his immigration to the United States, where Amir and Baba who lived in luxury in an expensive mansion in Afghanistan settle in a run-down apartment and Baba begins work at a gas station. It was the discovery of a new world because it is a different culture (Rogers & Steinfatt 1999, p. 212). He had to adapt to completely new environment because of the cultural context has change (Lustig & Koester 2010, p. 319). For example, he shaving his beard when he lived in the United States.
My personal reflection towards Amir's perspective, while Amir takes us primarily on a journey of redemption, Hassan takes us on a journey of love. He says to Amir, "for you, a thousand times over!" and this lines echo twice more in the book, connecting Amir's destiny with Hassan's. Hassan is completely selfless; he never stops giving, even after he and Amir have parted. This is the path Amir struggles to find the road that will lead him to forgiveness, peace, and eventually a changed heart that only wants to give, the kind of heart that he first experienced in knowing Hassan.
In the end Amir, who grew up being served, has learned how to serve others. He knows that what mistakes he made in the past have been forgiven, and this allows him to be able to forgive himself.
There are some politic changes in Afghanistan as we can see on this novel, from the constitutional monarchy to the republic. Since the late 1970s, Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of civil war punctuated by foreign occupations in the forms of the Soviet invasion and overthrew the Taliban government. Therefore, we can conclude that this is an historical novel about the pre-Soviet invasion and pre-Taliban rule of Afghanistan, as well life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule and life in a post-Taliban Afghanistan. The information about the political, social, and cultural systems of this Middle Eastern country provides a contrast to the contemporary headlines about Afghanistan primarily being home to terrorist cells.
I can conclude that this novel is more personal with the description of Afghanistan’s culture and traditions, along with the lives of the people who live in Kabul. The story provides an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political chaos. Of course there are many things that are unsaid and under explained in this tragic novel which, in my observation, is an oversimplification. There is also a heavy use of emotional appeal, and an underlying message. It explores the difficulties of developing into an adult relationship with parents while simultaneously exploring ideas about the human capacity for good and evil, and the relationship between sin, forgiveness, and atonement. Its setting in both Afghanistan and the United States illustrates the diversity of its characters and themes. In addition to these topics, this novel also touches on social awareness, religion, and philosophy.
I had ideas but I can’t pretend that I can imagine what it’s like for people to go through these life changing experiences. I have some sort of perspective and feelings towards Afghanistan and what they have been through and this story makes me sympathize for the people and makes me feel fortunate for what I have. I think the author achieved his goal of sending the message. America is a sheltered country and I think that this novel can give people an idea of what it feels like to have to live under constant fear and struggle.
Many people seem to think that all of Afghanistan’s citizens are terrorists or bad people, and I don’t agree. I think that the people are stuck and engaged in between political strife and a violent war, and many of them do support the terrorists but there are some who are innocent.