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The Kite Runner Literary Analysis Essay

The Kite Runner is Khaled Hosseini’s first novel. Born in Kabul, Hosseini draws heavily on his own experiences to create the setting for the novel; the characters, however, are fictional. Hosseini’s plot shows historical realism, as the novel includes dates—for chronological accuracy, including the time of the changing regimes of Afghanistan. Amir’s happy childhood days fall under the peaceful and affluent era of King Zahir Shah’s reign, a time when Amir and his friend, Hassan, could themselves feel like kings of Kabul, carving their names into a tree. In 1973, Dawood Khan becomes the president of Afghanistan. This era is reflected in the novel when the local bully, Assef, harasses Amir with his brass knuckles and hopes that Hazaras will be eliminated.

The Russian invasion in 1981 turns Kabul into a war zone, forcing many residents, including Baba and Amir, to escape to Pakistan. Even after the Russians had left the country, the unrest had continued. In 1996, the Talibs had come to power. In the novel, Rahim Khan tells Amir that Talibs had banned kite fighting in 1996 and that in 1998, Hazaras had been massacred.

The novel’s complex plot consists of several conflicts that evoke sympathy for characters who are unjustly victimized. The story begins with the internal conflicts of Amir—a wealthy child—who enjoys Hassan’s friendship but is also jealous of him and ends up cheating him. An external conflict occurs between the protagonist, Amir, and the antagonist, Assef. Amir goes to Afghanistan to rescue his nephew Sohrab, as “a way to be good again,” but encounters Assef, a vindictive and cruel enemy from the past, and now a ruling Talib.

A final conflict shows the gap between the legal system and the human rights of orphans as victims of war, a gap that leads to Sohrab’s attempted suicide. Intrinsic to the conflicts in the novel is the unjust victimization of the innocent—a theme evoking the import of human rights across international boundaries.

Hosseini succeeds in striking the right balance between tragic emotion and optimism. For example, the narrator drops clues that Sohrab will talk again “almost a year” after his suicide attempt. Similarly, Sohrab’s faint smile in the novel’s last scene is a clue that he will be happy with his new guardians. Hosseini’s imagery also is powerful and layered with meaning. For example, Sohrab hitting Assef with slingshot fire is a befitting image that shows the triumph of the weak and lowly over the high and mighty—a modern David and Goliath tale.

Another successful aspect of the novel is characterization. When Amir’s character transforms, he is willing to risk his life for Sohrab. In contrast, Assef claims a religious conversion but shows no change of character. Some critics find fault with Hosseini’s one-dimensional characterization of Assef as a stereotyped Talib who is inhumane and tyrannical. However, the novel is written from a first-person narrator’s viewpoint. Amir is the narrator for twenty-four chapters, and Rahim Khan narrates the events of the past in chapter 16. Both narrators can report only their respective experiences, and both paint a tragic picture of Taliban atrocities.

Unique to Hosseini is his artistic ability to blend the literary tradition of the Western novel with the Persian literature of the Sufis. The novel includes consistent references to the Persian legend of Rostam and Sohrab, which comes from Persian poet Firdusi’s Shahnamah (c. 1010), the poetic epic of Afghanistan, Iran, and other Persian-speaking countries. These references serve to exemplify the novel’s theme, a classic one, of the quest for the father. Other parallels with the Persian epic are The Kite Runner’s ironic revelations about the past, the novel’s war-zone setting, and the novel’s tragic irony associated with the ignorance of many of its characters. Tragic irony is a vehicle for revelation, and it also serves as a rhetorical strategy to validate the narrator’s claim: “I’ve learned . . . [how] the past claws its way out.” Likewise, tragic irony becomes a rhetorical strategy for comparing and contrasting characters’ behaviors as they manipulate knowledge and claim ignorance in their relationships. For example, Amir’s childish ploys to get rid of Hassan and his father, Ali, culminate in a tragic scene, in which “Hassan knew . . . everything. . . . He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again.” Hassan would not expose to Baba that Amir was actually a liar and a cheater. This marks a critical moment in Amir’s life because he realizes that he loves Hassan, “more than he had loved anyone else”; still, Amir cannot confess the truth and will never again see Hassan.

The Kite Runner is a powerful story about two boys whose friendship is threatened by deception and betrayal yet withstands the pressures of cultural barriers and legal boundaries. Their childhood memories of happy days outlast their tragic separation, and the steadfast loyalty of Hassan defines the theme of this novel as one of true friendship.

The Kite Runner Literary Analysis

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The Kite Runner Analysis The expression “riddled with guilt” is a good way to describe the main character’s life, Amir, in the book The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner is a story about an Afghan boy, Amir, who has many hardships throughout his life as he grows from a boy living in war-torn Afghanistan, to a successful writer living in America. Amir experiences many events that caused him to carry a great amount of guilt throughout his life. So much guilt that it even turned him into an insomniac.

He needed to find a way to make amends which would allow him to forgive himself and hopefully, one day, be able to sleep soundly again. Guilt was a main theme that occurred over and over again throughout the story. Amir can trace his feelings of guilt back to the moment he was born since his mother died during childbirth and Amir thinks his father blamed him. Amir often felt he let his father down. He said, “I will never forget Baba’s valiant efforts to conceal the disgusted look on his face. ” (pg. 21) That was his father’s reaction to his crying after seeing a horseback rider trampled to death.

Also when Amir overheard his father say, “There is something missing in that boy” (pg. 22) and “If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he’s my son. ” (pg. 23) he knew that he did not meet his father’s expectations. Amir clearly felt that he was not measuring up to his father’s standards of what boy (or man) should be like. But Amir really wanted his father’s approval. Not only did Amir feel guilt from not meeting his father’s expectations, he felt tremendous guilt when he didn’t tell anyone and didn’t do anything to help his friend Hassan when he witnessed Hassan being raped.

Especially because it happened when Hassan was running after Amir’s victory kite. What made this guilt feel so much worse was that Hassan had always been so good and loyal to him. Once, Hassan even defended Amir against the same boys who raped him by aiming his sling shot at them. All this made Amir feel like a coward and compared to Hassan’s bravery, he even felt jealous. One night he was tossing and turning and said to no one, “‘I watched Hassan get raped. ‘ A part of me was hoping someone would wake up and hear so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore…

I was the monster… That was the night I became an insomniac. ” (pg. 86) At that point even being around Hassan was a constant reminder of Amir’s failures and that made him angry but feeling angry added even more guilt. In Amir’s desperate attempt to get out from under feelings of crushing guilt, he planted his birthday present of a watch and some money under Hassan’s mattress and told Baba. “I knocked on Baba’s door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies. ” (pg. 104) But when Hassan replied “yes” to stealing, Amir “flinched, like I’d been slapped.

My heart sank and I almost blurted out the truth. Then I understood: This was Hassan’s final sacrifice for me. ” (pg. 105) Amir said he loved Hassan in that moment, more than he ever loved anyone but he didn’t tell the truth. He remained silent hoping that the stealing would get them fired and he could “move on, forget, start with a clean slate… be able to breathe again. ” (pg. 106) However, Baba forgave Hassan for stealing, to Amir’s complete shock, but Ali insisted they leave anyway and that broke Baba’s heart.

Amir does move on with his life but doesn’t begin to forgive himself or let go of the load of guilt he carried until the story comes full circle with Amir getting the opportunity make things right by helping his brother Hassan’s son, his nephew. There’s a statement in the beginning that caught my attention, “There is a way to be good again. ” (pg. 2) It is through all Amir’s efforts to travel back to Afghanistan to save Hassan’s now orphaned child, Sohrab, bring him back to America and adopt him that Amir begins to let go of the guilt he’s carried for so long.

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He sees that he can finally start to heal because remembering events from the past stopped hurting as much when he thought about them as they once did. Finally, Hassan’s son shows his first glimpse of being happy while flying kites at the end, when Amir asks, “Do you want me to run that kite for you? ” He catches Sohrab’s glimpse of a smile when he nods “yes” and said the same thing Hassan once told him, “For you, a thousand times over. ” (pg. 371)

Author: Brandon Johnson

in The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner Literary Analysis

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