Summary

Chapter 10

Baba and Amir escape Kabul and carry with them all they need, due to high security and the risk of possible conflict. Their destination is Pakistan. A soldier harasses a young woman that travels with them and Baba decides to intervene. The soldier now has Baba at gunpoint and Amir is worried for his father, already assuming the worst. Baba does not retreat, and miraculously, as the soldier cocks the gun, an older soldier stops the challenger and allows Baba and the rest to continue forth. Baba finds out the next transport is immobile and needs repairs and attempts to kill the man in charge. Baba loosens up and finds Kamal and his father in the basement. Kamal has also been raped ironically and now no longer speaks. Kamal dies from the gas fumes on the trip, leading his father to swiftly snatch the pistol and commit suicide. Amir is temporarily traumatized.

Chapter 11

Baba and Amir are now in Fremont, California at which, Baba mentions he has gone through all the trouble just for Amir. Baba’s intention in his new surroundings is to reminisce whilst Amir’s are to move on. Amir graduates from High School and Baba takes him out to dinner as a celebration. Baba ends the night with a surprise Ford for Amir, but the night is ruined with Amir’s decision to Major in English.  Baba and Amir venture to a series of separate garage sales to merchant items and then reach the flea market; the first encounter with Soraya.

Chapter 12

Baba subtly hints at the idea of Amir attempting to talk to Soraya, and mentions Honor and Pride and Amir responds with a first visit. Eventually they begin to talk alot and the mother begins to legitimize the situation; Khala Jamila. The two are eventually caught by General Taheri, the father, and Amir decides not to revisit. Baba becomes diagnosed with cancer, but refuses to allow proper and treatment, causing a seizure at the market later on. Baba awoke later with Afgani visitors surrounding him. Baba and Amir arrange a marriage with Soraya. Soraya unveils her past and Amir still accepts her because of the irony of his past.

Chapter 13

Amir and Soraya are now married and she decides to move in with Amir due to “Kaka Jan’s” condition. Soraya does everything she can to maintain Baba’s life span, but it ends later on during the night Baba rejected his morphine medication. The routine settled in for the Soraya and Amir and eventually, Amir’s book is recognized. Hassan’s encouraging words re-enter Amir’s mind; You’ll make it far one day. Amir and Soraya attempt to have a child but are unsuccessful. They constantly visit doctors and are embarrassed to share their personal details. Eventually hope is lost, and the only source is adoption. The option is rejected and Amir’s insomnia persists.

Character Development

Amir

  • Amir is the protagonist in the novel
  • Amir is a round character (he changes a lot throughout the novel)
  • In chapter 11, Amir is  in America and he is enrolled in high school
  • As the years pass Amir is becomes more mature
  • In chapter 13, it is 1988, Amir is 25 years old and gets married to a women named Soraya
  • He fulfills his dream of becoming a author
  • Amir has received much more love from his Baba
  • Amir was a selfish person, but he has begun to care for others and less about himself
  • But there is one characteristic that has never changed, it is his sensitivity and his intellect

Baba

  • Baba is a flat character during the novel (he has not changed in the novel)
  • Baba is a caring and loyal person and stays caring and loyal
  • He still believes that what Amir wants so study is useless and that it will never help him in life
  • Since Ali and Hassan left and Baba and Amir had moved to America, he has give Amir a lot more attention.
  • Baba is proud, independent, emotionally distant and impatient.
  • Baba goes from being a wealthy man to working in a gas station

General Taheri

  • The general was a round character in chapter 12 and 13
  • General Taheri was one of Baba’s friends
  • He did likes it when Amir and Soraya talk because he was an Afghan (goes back to Soraya’s story)
  • When Amir asked Soraya to marry him, the general was happy and filled with joy
  • Which making him a round character

Soraya

  • Soraya was recently introduced in the novel
  • Static character
  • She is the daughter of general Taheri
  • Soraya is introduced to Amir in Chapter 12 by Baba
  • Baba introduces Amir to general Taheri which lead him to meeting his daughter
  • Soraya was not mentioned too many times
  • In one year, she fell in love with Amir and they both got married

Themes

  • Life Lesson: What goes around comes around. “I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with.”
  • “He has a spot on his right lung. I want the doctor to check it out.”

Important Literary Devices

Symbolism

  • Traditional Afghan Woman (121)
  • Symbol of Afghanistan
  • The guard’s attempted rape show that law has essentially collapsed in Afghanistan
  • Loss of honour and decency in Afghanistan
  • In chapter 12 (161), it is evident that the refugees want to preserve traditional Afghan culture
  • Baba’s actions (123) show that refugees try to preserve the honour and decency in Afghanistan by acting with dignity – he tries to preserve the honour of the woman
  • The Ford Car – Grand Torino (141)
  • symbol of Baba’s changing relationship with Amir
  • Until this point in the book, Amir has always tried to win his father’s love and acceptance; he was denied and neglected by his father for his manly inabilities
  • Baba wouldn’t have believed that Amir was his son if he “hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of [his] wife with [his] own eyes” (25)
  • By graduating, working, and helping out in the flea market, he had won Baba’s approval
  • He was “touched … by his act of kindness” (141)
  • By taking steps into adulthood, Baba died proud of Amir (183)
  • Soraya – Light : Admitting past, pure-hearted
  • Baba – Archetypal personal goal : Symbolism of struggle
  • Koran – Symbol of blessing-hope : Passing letter under Koran as hope for being acknowledged for publishing
  • General Taheri – Archetypal protective father.
  • Bear – Symbol of obstacles : Baba’s fight through many tragedies

Irony

“I drove the Torino up the hills of Los Altos, idling past estates with picture windows and silver lion guarding the wrought-iron gates, homes with cherub fountains lining the manicured walkways and no Ford Torinos in the driveways. Homes that made Baba’s house in Wazir Akbar Khan look like a servant’s hut.” (143)

  • Amir’s words are ironic
  • He says that the houses in America make Baba’s house in Kabul look like a servant’s hut
  • In Kabul, Ali and Hassan were the servants, working hard, wearing dirty clothes, making little money (6, 29)
  • In America, Baba is much like a servant himself – he has to work in a gas station for low wages, lives in an apartment, driving old cars (136, 140)
  • “Baba loved the idea of America.  It was living in America that gave him an ulcer.” (132)
  • Amir’s words are ironic -> “loved America” and “America that gave him an ulcer”
  • Baba suffers from an ulcer from having to work so hard in America, adjust to the changes, and lack of respect (134-138, 145)
  • In Afghanistan he was wealthy and a man of prestige. (4, 16)

Metaphor

  • “America was different. America was a river, roaring along …” (144)
  • Amir sees America as an opportunity for a new beginning, where he can escape his past and doesn’t have to be reminded of his guilt
  • A river moves forward, meaning, no going back to the past
  • In Christianity, the river is also used for washing away sins – baptism -> purification and regeneration
  • Amir wants to live a new life, free of sins (ie. Hassan’s rape and lying to force Ali and Hassan out Baba’s house (80-81, 112)

Foreshadowing

Amir says: “So this is where Baba dies,” I thought. “This is how it’s going to happen.”(122) This is showing foreshadowing, because this quote stated by Amir is showing how fearless Baba is and that he will stand up for what is right no matter what. He is also stubborn, because even though Amir told him to sit down a number of times he did not. Baba’s fearlessness and stubbornness is a sign of his manliness. This foreshadowing is showing that Baba’s manliness will be the cause of his death someday.

Amir says: “My eyes returned to the suitcases. They made me sad for Baba. After everything he’d built, planned, fought for, fretted over, and dreamed of, this was the summation of his life: one disappointing son and two suitcases.” (130) This is foreshadowing, because in the context Amir is talking he knows the rest of their journey for a new life in the United States will be difficult and not easy as back in Afghanistan.

Amir says: “…I’d see her sitting barefoot, arranging cardboard boxes of yellow encyclopedias, her heels white against the asphalt, silver bracelets jingling around her slender wrist.” (151) This foreshadowing, because Amir is in the car on his way to the flea market with Baba, and he hasn’t even seen her yet, but he is describing how he will see her that day.

Amir says: “…The first time I heard Baba moan in the bathroom. The first time I found blood on his pillow. In over three years running the gas station, Baba has never called in sick. Another first.” “By Halloween of that year, Baba was getting so tired by mid-Saturday afternoon…” (166) This is foreshadowing, because Baba’s cancer is having a major affecting on him, it is showing that Baba is slowly dying and because of his stubbornness to not take chemo there is nothing that can be done.

Amir says: “On the wood-paneled walls, I saw pictures of the people who would become my new family.” (176) This is showing that Amir is entering a new family in the near future, therefore this is foreshadowing. He is not in the family as he is walking watching the picture, but he will be when the wedding ceremonies are complete.

Analysis

How is Baba’s bravery and sense of decency revealed in the flight from Kabul?

Baba’s bravery and sense of decency was revealed during the flight from Kabul was when he stood up against the young Russian soldier and saved a woman from being raped. When the large truck that Amir and Baba were on stopped at the Russian road block post, the truck driver had to deal with the soldiers, they had a deal and it was supposed to be an easy pass, however this one soldier saw the woman and he wanted to take her for a little while. Everybody was scared to question the soldier; even the woman’s husband was not able to say anything. This was when Baba stood up and told the soldier no, the soldier threatened to shoot and kill Baba, but Baba still stood his ground. As much as Amir told Baba is sit down, he did not, luckily a higher ranking Russian soldier walked by and saw the younger soldier and kicked him out of the truck. After this, everybody on the truck was able to go; also this shows how brave and manly Baba is.

“Baba loved the idea of America.  It was living in America that gave him an ulcer.” (132). What is the ‘idea’ of America referred to in this quote? Is there any discrepancy between the way immigrants may view America and the ‘real’ America?

  • Amir’s words are ironic -> “loved America” and “America that gave him an ulcer”
  • Baba suffers from an ulcer from having to work so hard in America, adjust to the changes, and lack of respect (134-138, 145)
  • In Afghanistan he was wealthy and a man of prestige. (4, 16)
  • Immigrants view America as a place to escape but are they really escaping?
  • For example, immigrants back in the 19th century were promised land and money if they came to Canada, but what did they get when they actually came?
  • America for Baba and Amir was a place to escape, by becoming what America wants them to be
  • America’s society and culture is different from that of Afghanistan

a) Amir ‘embraces’ America because it is “someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins.” (144) Is Amir right to feel he can leave his past behind? b) Do you feel this idea of “beginning over” is part of the immigrant’s view of America?

  • No, because guilt will always conquer the mind (Tell-Tale Heart and Macbeth)
  • Even in America, he is reminded of his past and Hassan, and events that occur in America have some connection to Hassan (141, 174, 180)
  • Most of time, the immigrants motive for leaving their country is to begin a new life because war or something else has happened in the country
  • Immigrants are misled by the perks they think are “granted” to them, when in fact, they need to “work” to achieve success
  • An Indian teaching degree isn’t recognized as prestigious in America, which is why most of them work as taxi drivers or own small franchises
  • These peoples’ potential aren’t recognized as much as they were in their home country (134-137)

Compare and contrast the relationships of Soraya and Amir and their fathers.  How have their upbringings contributed to these relationships?

Amir’s relationship with Baba is a subtle relationship that has a rare ups and downs but it is a mainly silent relationship. There are moments when Baba is proud and disappointed. Soraya has an opposite vision of the world in her rebellious state contrary to her father –General Taheri. Both fathers share different points of views as opposed to their offspring. General Taheri shows less disappointment publicly to Soraya however, whilst Baba displays disappointment openly in public. The relationship between Baba and Amir has driven Amir to impress his father which has turned him into a very giving person when he fins someone like Soraya who thinks of him equally. Soraya’s father has contributed by straightening her up from her rebellious past and allowing her to move on as a better person to now accept her new husband and forgive her past.

Soraya’s “past” does disturb Amir somewhat, but ultimately he admires her and is able to accept her “sin”and love her. Why?

  • Soraya’s past is not the typical  past of an Afghanistan woman, since she has been with another man
  • He does not mind because he has already sinned
  • He betrayed Hassan, lied and ruined the relationship between Ali and Baba
  • He sees her as being better than himself
  • He hasn’t been around women, so he doesn’t quite understand why she is shamed so much

How are women presented in this section? Comment on the role of women in the novel?

  • The roles of women in this book are very traditional
  • They are expected to get married and produce sons
  • Its seems as if they have no will power because their fathers make all of their decisions
  • Going to America has not changed the way that Afghan women are portrayed
  • Women must listen to their fathers and not disobey them
  • They must not have pre-marital relationships because it is shameful for the family

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