Summary

  • Currently in San Francisco (December 2001)
  • Amir recalls events that happened in his past
  • Amir (Pashtun)& Hassan (Hazara) are brothers/friends/ servant (inconsiderate relationship)
  • Hazaras were segregated- called “mice-eating and flat nosed”(Hosseini,9)
  • Pashtuns are Sunni muslims while Hazaras are Shi’a muslim
  • Baba built an orphanage and tells his son there is only one sin which is theft
  • Baba worried about his son as he is not like other boys
  • Amir likes poetry, once he makes a story and shows Rahim Khan who responds saying he is talented
  • Amir & Hassan grew up together
  • In 1978 the communist take-over
  • 1979: Russia invaded

Themes

Social class

  • The Kite Runner has much to do with the issue of social class because the characters’ relationships with one another revolve around their placement on the social spectrum.
  • Amir is privileged just because his father is a wealthy and respected man.
  • Hassan is considered ‘only a servant’ because that’s exactly what his father Ali is.

Brotherhood

  • We see in the novel that Amir and Hassan are like brothers as they share many experiences. However, because of different values, their friendship is not one of brotherhood. Amir feels superior to Hassan and is jealous of him at times. Hassan, however shows complete loyalty to Amir

Characterization

Amir

  • Protagonist
  • Round character
  • Pashtun
  • Privileged
  • Selfish
  • Deprived of love from his Baba
  • Insecure

Baba

  • Flat character
  • Amir’s Father
  • Wealthy man
  • Has a strained relationship with his son, Amir
  • Kind/ generous man- built an orphanage
  • Determined
  • Pashtun
  • Fearless (only scared when his family could have been killed- Russian invasion)

Hassan

  • Static character
  • Amir’s friend/servant/brother
  • Hazara
  • A very good son to Ali
  • Constantly made fun of by Assef
  • A very LOYAL friend
  • Intelligent
  • Caring
  • Contains lisp (harelip)

Ali

  • Loyal
  • hazara
  • Life long servant of Baba
  • Has polio
  • Proud man

Rahim Khan

  • Baba’s best friend/corporate partner
  • Friendly
  • Reasonable
  • When Amir showed his story, he was actually kind enough to care to read it
  • Determined
  • Helpful

Assef

  • Mean/Cruel Bully
  • Half German, half Afghan
  • Considers Hitler his idol, “Too late for Hitler. But not for us.” (Hosseini, 35)- wants all Hazaras to leave
  • Hates Amir and especially Hassan
  • Antagonist
  • Flat character

Conflicts

Person vs. Person

Amir & Baba

  • Though not shown directly, Baba and Amir have a conflict, a clash in views.
  • Baba wanted a more athletic, strong and physically capable boy
  • Amir is not the boy that he has always wanted and he cant believe his offspring would be like that.
  • “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”

Assed & Hassan

  • Assef being a Pashtun hates the Hazara, especially Hassan
  • He views the hazara as a filthy race that should be eliminated from this world
  • Hassan normally wouldn’t have stood up to Assef and fought back if Amir’s life wasn’t at risk either.
  • Assef and Hassan’s true conflict/ fight started when Hassan stood up to him in Chapter 5

Person vs. Self

Amir

  • Jealous of Hassan
  • Feels guilty about being mean to Hassan when he sees Hassan’s status against assef’s Pashtun power
  • In chapter 5 when he heard Hassan call Assef Agha he realised how low Hassan’s status was compared to his his and Assefs that he had to call, of all people, Assef “agha”
  • Insecure: just wants Baba to love him, feels he does not satisfy him
  • Fearful: cannot stand up for himself

Person vs. Society

Hassan

  • Hassan’s life and also Ali’s is an everyday struggle against society
  • Being Hazara, they are mistreated in the only world familiar to them and they have to live it out daily.
  • Hassan’s unwavering loyalty to Amir and Baba could also be fueled by the fact that they are one of the only people who really accept them

Baba

  • In chapter 3, Amir describes Baba, in which he mentions all the times Baba has wanted to do something and the society dicouraged him each time but Baba fought it through.
  • This not being  an aggressive conflict with the society still shows baba’s want to fight the system

Literary Devices

Allusion

  • An allusion is a reference to a well- known person, event, literary work.
  • “He would take the mirror & tell us what his mother told him, that the devil shone mirrors too, shone them to distract Muslims” (Hosseini, 2)
  • The reference to the devil makes this passage and allusion
  • “Tell him what I told my mother. About Hitler. Now, there was a leader. A great leader. A man with a vision.” (Hosseini, 43)
  • Reference to Hitler

Foreshadowing

  • In the novel there are many times where the author has put foreshadowing, actually the whole first chapter is foreshadowing.
  • It tells us that though the book has now gone into flash back, there will be a point where Amir will return to Afghanistan present day and ‘try to be good again’
  • Also on chapter 5 when the narrator says “marking the start of a still ongoing era of bloodletting” We know that the war will not be over soon

Setting

  • “…my Baba built the most beautiful house In all of Wazir Khan District, a new and affluent neighbourhood in the northern part of kabul” (Hosseini, 4)
  • Sets mood for story- Amir is from a wealthy family
  • In contrast when the narrator describes Hassan’s house: “…the servants’ home, a modest little mud hut where Hassan lived with his father.”(Hosseini,6) they are showing the differences in both of their lives.

Irony

  • “Which was ironic, because that was the winter that Hassan stopped smiling”(Hosseini, 50)
  • It is ironic that once the hare lip would be removed, one would think that Hassan would smile more as he will be gladly able to. Yet, some situation occurred causing him to never smile again

Imagery

  • Imagery is pretty common in the novel, the author uses it to get people more familiar with the setting because a lot of people wouldn’t know what exactly the author is talking about.
  • In chapter two Amir describes his house in very descriptive ways and that is one of the many places the author used imagery
  • “The Poplar trees lined the red brick driveway…pair of wrought iron doors…The house sat on the left side of the brick pathway, the backyard at the end of it.” (Hoseini, 4)

Symbolism

  • In the novel the kites can symbolize Amir in a  way
  • like the way kites can just afloat, Amir too wants to be free and be loved by all he see him but the string symbolizes something always holding him down

Simile

  • “He wrinkled his nose when he said the Shi’a, like it was some kind of disease” (Hoseini, 10)
  • The narrator, through a simile, compared the Shia’s with a disease

Metaphor & Colloquialism

  • “…eyes are the windows to the soul” (Hosseini, pg.8 )
  • Comparison between eyes and the reflection of the inner soul

Analysis

The narrator refers to an incident in his past as a pivotal even in his youth. What are his feelings about this event? How does he convey these feelings?

Regret. Amir regrets what he had done in 1975.  He feels that the winter of that year changed his life forever and made him what he is today; his traits, personality and beliefs. The narrator conveys his feelings by going into a flashback starting chapter 2  “I looked up at those twin kites. I thought about Hassan…I thought of the life I lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything.” (Hosseini, 2)

What might Rahim Khan mean when he says, “There is a way to be good again.”?

When Rahim Khan says “There is a way to be good again”, he meant that there is a way to pay back Hassan for what he did. That he could still make it up to him for everything that he had done to him. Also, this quote is significant because it is a repetition. It is used throughout the novel.One particular incident that describes Amir’s ignorance towards Hassan was during his storytelling. Amir bluntly wonders, “ …What does he know, that illiterate Hazara? He’ll never be anything but a cook. How dare he criticize you?” (Hosseini, 37)

Are Amir and Hassan friends? How would you describe their relationship in this section?

In Amir’s view…

-Inconsistent relationship -> brothers-> servant + master-> friends

Amir truly does care for Hassan but their social differences, as Hassan is a Hazara while Amir is a Pashtun, he feels that they could never truly assimilate. Their differences are too great to overcome. BUT Hassan’s loyalty always brings Amir closer.

“…I never thought of Hassan and me as friends either…Because history isn’t easy to overcome. Neither is religion. In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara… And nothing was going to change that. Nothing.” In this section Amir is trying to persuade if no one but himself that him and Hassan can’t possibly become friends. BUT his sentiments and his childhood with Hassan doesn’t let him forget the relationship that they have. “But we were kids who had learned to crawl together, and no history, ethnicity, society, or religion was going to change that either.”

Though Amir has his feelings confused, Hassan is always consistent. He is completely loyal to Amir and consider him as his friend.

Comment on the significance of the final paragraph of Chapter two?

Hassan’s first word was Amir while Amir’s was Baba, his dad. This is because Amir Idolizes his dad, like Hassan does to Amir. Essentially, through this we can tell where their loyalties lie.

How has Baba been introduced to the reader?

Baba was introduced in the book as a rich, influential and honored man. In the book Amir introduces his Baba by saying “Everyone agreed that my father, my Baba, had built the most beautiful house in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, a new and affluent neighborhood in the northern part of Kabul.” (Hosseini, 4)

When Amir actually went into detail about his father in the book, the reader realizes that not only is Baba influential and honored, he is also brave and noble. “…Baba decided to build an orphanage…Baba had personally funded the entire project”(Hosseini, 14) basically Baba was introduced as a man who was rich but also decent, who was influential and also noble. He was introduced to sound like an idol, someone to look up to and maybe the only reason it sounded like that is because Amir was the narrator.

Discuss Amir’s relationship with his father.

Amir’s relationship with his father isn’t the typical relation most kids would have with their father.  There is some bitterness in their relationship. Amir is the type of boy who likes to read poetry, write stories and is a person who likes to stay away from ‘trouble’. Whereas Baba wants a boy who is more athletic and who would more often stand up for himself. Baba couldn’t believe that his offspring would be someone like Amir. “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.” (Hosseini, 24-25) Amir is also not very happy with the relationship he has with his father because Amir wants his Baba all to himself and he hates the fact that his Baba pays so much attention to Hassan and that he is always at work and barely has time for him.

Parallel father/son relationships begin to appear between Baba and Amir, and Ali and Hassan.  How closely do they reflect each other?

Baba and Amir, and Ali and Hassan relate very closely in terms of relationship because both pairs do not talk about feelings with each other. But more or so about work related issues, whenever Amir tries to start a conversation with his father it usually ends of with his father not acknowledging him. Whereas, Hassan and Ali are strictly work related so far in the book there has hardly been mentioning of  Ali’s affection towards Amir. All Hassan mentions is that he helps Ali sometimes with the housework like cooking, cleaning and etc..

Comment on the element of irony in Amir’s first story he writes.

The irony is that in the story the poor man who was happy being poor was driven by greed and in the end you realize to ultimately make himself very sad he had killed his own wife out of greed so he could get more pearls.

How is Hassan’s reaction to this story – his comment that all the man had to do to cry was to ‘smell an onion’ – a reflection of his own life?

He shows that not everything has to be complicated he is used to doing house tasks and some of them may include chopping onions so he knows that chopping them makes someone cry easily. Also this makes Amir angry because after all the work he had done to make such a story he had been foiled by an “illiterate Hazara.” His anger gets the best of him and he feels stupid that someone could foil his great story.

How does this illustrate the fundamental difference between Amir and Hassan?

The fundamental difference is that Amir is more deep in thoughts he thinks things through to a more literate level whereas Hassan is more easy going he says what pops into his mind first. And though Amir thinks through everything he is going to say and so, Baba, as he feels still doesn’t show any interest in him, but though Hassan just says what’s in his mind, without thinking it through, he seems smarter and gets more attention then he ‘deserves.

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2 Comments on "The Kite Runner Chapters 1-5: Summary, Themes, Analysis"

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Jay Gonzalez
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Awesome!!!!! Very helpful for a high school student like myself 🙂

Terri
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Dear Mr. Anderson:

Thanks for making this a great website for a Chicago teacher.

Tomorrow I am co-teaching with my AP. I am hopeful this is will not turn out to be an evaluation.

Finally, as a overture, I gave the AP book two to Kite Runner as a new AP and member to my school.

Your site is perfect to keep us focus and to present a great conclusion to chapters 1-5.

The best to you and your team.

Terri

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