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- Rahim Khan gives Amir an envelope. Inside are letters from Hassan which talk about Hassan hopes, his life and the changes in Kabul
- The letters are very warm – Hassan doesn’t hold any grudges against Amir.
- Rahim Khan delivers the bad news to Amir. Hassan and his wife were massacred and their Sohrab is in an orphanage in Kabul.
- Rahim Khan wants Amir to rescue Sohrab from the orphanage.
- Rahim Khan gives him three reasons. First, Khan is a dying man and he wants Amir to do this for him. Second, Baba once thought Amir couldn’t stand up for himself – now, Amir can prove him wrong. Third, Hassan was actually Amir’s half-brother.
- Apparently, Ali was sterile, and Baba fathered Hassan with Sanaubar.
- The chapter ends with Amir storming out of Rahim Khan’s apartment.
- Amir angry about Baba’s lies and betrayal.
- Amir orders some tea in a teahouse. He starts to go over all the signs he didn’t understand as a boy, but which are abundantly clear now.
- Amir considers Baba’s principles: “There is only one sin. And that sin is theft […]” (237). Baba stole Ali’s honor and stole Hassan’s identity and Amir’s brother. But Amir also sees how similar he and Baba are: both betrayed “the people who would have given their lives for us” (237).
- Amir wonders if Ali and Hassan would have survived if he hadn’t driven them out of the house. Amir begins to understand how, by saving Sohrab, he might atone for both Baba’s sins and his own. Rahim Khan’s phrase “There is a way to be good again” starts to make sense to Amir.
- Amir gives in. He’ll travel to Kabul and find Sohrab.
- Amir is in a car with Farid, his driver, on his way to Kabul to find Sohrab.
- There’s some class tension between Amir and Farid since Amir fled to America and didn’t experience the upheaval of the 1980s and 1990s.
- They stay the night in Jalalabad with Farid’s brother, Wahid.
- Farid accuses Amir of returning to Afghanistan to sell his land and make money. Wahid isn’t having any of it. He tells Farid to get some manners.
- Farid has some issues with wealthy people; Amir feels like an outsider; and Wahid is a good host.
- With some prodding, Amir tells them why he’s really in Afghanistan and Farid is ashamed of himself.
- He gives the kids his watch but they lose interest in it very quickly. Farid says he’ll help Amir find Sohrab. Everyone retires to bed.
- Amir walks outside. He feels a pang of nostalgia for Afghanistan. He also realizes Wahid’s kids weren’t staring at his watch at dinner – they were staring at his food.
- Farid and Amir leave. But before they depart, Amir leaves a wad of cash underneath a mattress in Wahid’s house.
- The ability to read and write divided Amir and Hassan when they were boys.
- Being literate when Hassan was not gave Amir a feeling of superiority over him (Hosseini, 32).
- Hassan’s illiteracy does not mask his intelligence; for example, he points out the major plot hole in Amir’s story (Hosseini, 36).
- Hassan realizes his illiteracy is a disadvantage and makes him depend on others.
- He ensures that Sohrab can read and write even though it breaks his family tradition.
- The letter is significant because of its content, but it is more noteworthy because it is written (Hosseini, 227-230).
- Hassan is communicating with Amir on an equal level, something he could never have done when they were boys.
- The power of the written word – endures and has an effect that transcends even death-because Hassan is long dead by the time Amir reads his correspondence.
- Amir has made many mistakes which has caused him a lot of grief
- Sohrab is presented to him through Rahim Khan and is a means of redemption for Amir
- Amir’s reluctant acceptance to find the boy begins his path of redemption.
- This fulfills the quote: “There is a way to be good again” (Hosseini, 239).
- By standing up for what he believes in and doing the right thing he can receive redemption and be free of guilt.
Climax: Amir finding out that Hassan was his half brother (chapter 17)
Amir talks about how Baba had treated Hassan like a son not knowing that Hassan was actually his son. (Hosseini, 237)
- “I dream that lawla flowers will bloom in the streets of Kabul again and rubab music will play in the samovar houses and kites will fly in the skies (Hosseini, 230)
- Hassan is using lawla flowers and rubab music to represent the happiness and peacefulness in Kabul
- kites are used to symbolize happiness at this time but in the past it has symbolized guilt as it reminded him of his past sins
- “like wolves looking at a flock of sheep” (Hosseini, 230)
- “his life of unrequited loyalty drifting from him like the windblown kites he used to chase”(Hosseini, 231)
- “A cluster of men sitting on their haunches, like a row of crows…”(Hosseini, 243)
“I remember one day we were planting tulips, when I asked Baba if he’d ever consider getting new servants. “Hassan’s not going anywhere, he’d barked. He’s staying right here with us where he belongs, this is his home, and we are his family”(Hosseini, 237)
Amir is realizing all the signs in his past that would have lead him to find out Hassan was his brother
I feel like a tourist in my own country” (244).
Amir has grown accustomed to the American way of life and compares himself to a tourist
“They hadn’t been starring at the watch at all. They’d been staring at my food”(Hosseini, 254).
Amir realizes he is more like Baba than he thought (Hosseini, 238). What they share is betrayal of their best friends. Baba had betrayed Ali, his closest friend since childhood, by sleeping with Sanaubar.
Amir: has gone through most dramatic change.
- A major event that changed things is when he had learned that Hassan was his brother.
- Rahim Khan’s quote came back to him “There is a way to be good again.”(Hosseini, 202).
- The cycle of lies and betrayal would end by acts of kindness
- When Amir placed money under that mattress did it for a better and different reason
Rahim Khan: In sickness he still has much of his pride.
- He used to view Amir as a child but now sees him as a grown man.
- His relationship with Amir hasn’t changed they still have more in common than him and Baba ever did.
Farid: was an Afghan native.
- He did not think Amir cared about Afghanistan.
- Many of the people believed that the people who left were no longer people of the country.
- He had contempt for Amir’s visit until Amir told him and his brother Wahid what happened and he had a change of heart.
- Change in Amir seen: Amir he didn’t justify himself when Farid accused him
Hassan: has not changed even after twenty-four years.
- Hassan is very religious and loyal to his lifestyle.
- Ex: He refused to go into the house even though there were lots of empty rooms (Hosseini, 219).
- In the letter that Hassan writes he definitely misses Amir but his optimism seen when he reveals, he believes that he would see Amir again someday (shows his genuine heart and forgiving nature).
How is Hassan and Amir’s Relationship?
- Hassan towards Amir (seen through letter): Hassan’s generosity and loyalty is seen.
- He went through so much yet still stayed loyal
- He spoke about his family, told Amir how his life was going, he even had an interest in Amir’s life (Hosseini, 230)
- Shows loyalty and doesn’t reveal any hate in Hassan although he has every right to be.
- Generosity shown because he simply writes to Amir as a friend (forgetting past and looking at the future)
Significance of Images
- He dreams and wishing for the day where he and Amir can reunite and rebuild their relationship.
- Hassan’s use these as images and also as a metaphor for something greater in terms.
- “flowers will bloom”, “music will play”, “kites will fly” (Hosseini, 230):
- refers to the free Afghanistan where there was no soldiers or person that could take that freedom away
“Ali was sterile” (Hosseini, 234). What is the significance of this quote and its effect on Ali, Baba, Hassan, and Amir?
- Amir: Ali’s infertility meant that Hassan was Amir’s half brother. When Amir found out about this he became very angry.
- Baba: His son is a half Hazara;
- Because of his wrongdoings Baba could not reveal this truth to anyone besides Rahim and Ali.
- Because of his guilt he did many generous things
- Ali: Hassan was not Ali’s real son but actually his master’s.
- Hassan: His brother-like bond with Amir was real because they were half brothers.
“Baba and I were more alike than I’d ever know. We both betrayed the people who would have given their lives for us.” (238). In what ways were Baba and Amir alike? In what way were they different?
- Baba and Amir were different:
- Amir was not courageous: “…a boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything” (Hosseini, 233).
- He thought of himself and what he considered important before things that mattered: “…and you’d have me risk everything…” (Hosseini, 233).
- Choices Amir makes distinguishes him from his dad:
- His choice to get Sohrab (Hosseini, 239): His father did not do much to redeem himself besides trying to be a good person
- Amir wants to right his wrongs and get rid of the guilt that is haunting him
- By finding Sohrab, Amir can “be good again” (Hosseini, 239).