By Khaled Hosseini
Amir, the main character in
Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, witnesses the
racially motivated sexual assault of his friend/servant
Hassan, perpetrated by a gang of neighborhood bullies.
Hassan is a Hazara, a minority ethnic group of Shi'a
Muslims. He is attacked by a group of Pashtun boys, lead by
Assef, a young boy who heavily identifies with Hitler’s
doctrine. After this attack, Amir feels deep guilt and
shame, which causes him to shut Hassan out of his life.
Amir attempts to move on with his life. He tries to be the
son his father always wanted, but is constantly reminded of
Hassan. Even after he and his father, Baba, flee Afghanistan
during the Russian occupation and find a new home in
America, Amir still cannot rid himself of his memories and
Amir flees to America, marries an Afghan woman, and becomes
a successful writer. Yet, a walk in the park after a phone
call from Pakistan, reminds him of the joy he felt as a
child in Afghanistan kite running with Hassan.
Kite running, in which children attempt to cut down each
other's kite strings, is a popular winter pastime among
Afghan children. Kite strings are coated with glue and
broken glass, allowing the strings to slice through another
kite’s string. A kite runner is a child who runs after and
retrieves the kites after they are cut. The greatest prize a
kite runner can earn is retrieving the last kite cut during
The last happy moment Amir and Hassan share occurs when Amir
wins the winter kite tournament as his father watches. He
sends Hassan, his kite runner, to fetch the last kite so
that Amir can present it to his father. When Hassan goes
kite running, he is attacked.
As an adult, Amir is presented with the opportunity to make
things right. He receives a call from Rahim Khan, his
father’s friend, who requests that Amir travel to Pakistan
to see him. During this meeting he tells Amir that Hassan is
his half brother. He also tells Amir that Hassan has been
killed by the Taliban. Hassan’s son, Sohrab, is still in
Afghanistan, and Rahim Khan asks Amir to return to Kabul to
save Hassan’s son.
Amir decides to travel into Taliban ruled Afghanistan in
order to exorcise the demons of his past. Eventually, Amir
finds Sohrab and brings him back to America, finally putting
to rest his feelings of guilt and inadequacy.