Chapter 20

When Amir finally arrives in Kabul he doesn’t recognize it. All the buildings and shops he used to visit and remember were now piles of rubble.  All trees cut down. Amir stares at the Taliban, Farid tells Amir he shouldn’t stare at the Taliban because they are looking for trouble, an old beggar agrees with Farid saying “They drive around looking. Looking and hoping that someone will provoke them…And on those days when no one offends, well, there is always random violence, isn’t there?” (Hosseini 260). Beggar was actually a literature professor and once knew Amir’s mother, Sofia Akram.

Amir asks him several questions about her, but he replies: “I wish I remembered for you. But I don’t. Your mother passed away a long time ago and my memory is as shattered as these buildings. I am sorry.” (Hosseini 263) Amir and Farid go to the orphanage. The director Zaman is scared and doesn’t tell them where Sohrab is, until Amir says he’s Sohrab’s half-uncle.  He told them that Sohrab isn’t here and that a Talib official took him. Zaman confesses to selling children and tells Amir where the Taliban official

Chapter 21

  • Farid drives Amir to Baba’s house. Amir reminisces the past. Leave to Ghazi Stadium
  • Amir notices the field is just dirt, and the crowd is careful not to cheer loudly.
  • At halftime, Taliban arrive in red pickups, drive into the stadium
  • A cleric recites a prayer from the Koran and announces they are to carry out God’s law.
  • He says every sinner must be punished. “And what manner of punishment, brothers and sisters, befits the adulterer? … how shall we answer those who throw stones at the windows of God’s house? We shall throw the stones back!” (Hosseini 283)
  • The official threw stones at the heads of the “sinners” until they split open.
  • Farid tells one of the Taliban nearby that he has personal business with the official, and he agrees to see them that afternoon.

Chapter 22

  • Amir & Farid arrive to meet the Talib official
  • Official and guards enter and ask Amir to take off his fake beard
  • Official asks why Amir is in America, when he should be helping his Muslim brothers
  • Amir says he is looking for Sohrab
  • Sohrab enters with bells around his ankles, mascara, and dancing
  • Official asks about Babalu and Amir realizes that its Assef
  • Assef tells his story in jail, how the guard started to beat him and his stone dislodged, he felt relief and started to laugh
  • Assef says he wants to get rid of the garbage in Afghanistan
  • Assef says to have Sohrab, Amir needs to pay a price
  • Amir has flashbacks of Assef hitting him and laughing because he felt healed
  • Sohrab told Assef to stop and hits his left eye with the slingshot and escape

Chapter 23

  • Amir has a blur of images
  • Imagines himself wrestling a bear
  • He is in the hospital in Peshawar – has an upper lip split, broken bones, and ribs
  • Rahim’s note that says he knew everything that happened and that Amir was wrong, but too hard on himself
  • Baba couldn’t love Hassan openly and he felt guilty and took it out on Amir
  • Amir tells Farid to go look for the American couple, but Farid learns that there was no such couple and then Amir and Sohrab both leave for Islamabad.

Character Development


  • Selfish to Selfless
  • Courageous
  • Correcting past mistakes
  • Sacrifice himself for Sohrab


  • Disliked Amir at first
  • Talks to him
  • Helped him get Sohrab



  • After knowing that Assef has been continually abusing Sohrab.
  • His chance to confront his guilt.
  • Stand up for what is right.
  • His way to be good again.
  • He intervened on behalf of Sohrab.
  • Fights with Assef and laughs because he feels redeemed.
  • “My body was broken – just how badly I wouldn`t find out until later- but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed.” (Hosseini,303)

Men’s Cruelty

  • The Taliban would kill anyone who was a Hazara whether man, woman, or child
  • Taliban shoot Hassan and his wife in front of their son Sohrab for no reason
  • Assef beat a kid up with brass knuckles just because he stood up to him
  • Assef stoned the two people at the Soccer stadium to death.

Class Structure

  • Amir disagrees with the classification of Hazara and Pashtun
  • “And one more thing, General Sahib”…”You will never again refer to him as ‘Hazara boy’ in my presence. He has a name and it’s Sohrab.”
  • His time with Farid and his family helps him get a better feel for what it’s truly like to be an Afghan.
  • There is a division of Hazara and Pashtuns through jobs, way of life, and living conditions.

Literary Devices


  • One-Eyed Assef
  • Hassan threatens to shoot Assef’s eye out (Hosseini,300)
  • Carried out by Sohrab
  • Zaman also says that Sohrab always keeps the slingshot with him (Hosseini, 303)
  • Hassan saved Amir at their first encounter, and now Sohrab saved Amir from Assef
  • Kabul Not the Same
  • Farid warned Amir that Kabul was not the same as before they entered Kabul
  • “…Farid warned me just after we passed the Mahipar dam. Kabul is not the way you remember it…“ (Hosseini, 256)
  • When Amir enters Kabul he is shocked
  • “Because when Kabul finally did unroll before us, I was certain, absolutely certain, that he had taken a wrong turn somewhere.” (Hosseini, 256)


  • The Cleft Lip
  • Hassan had a cleft lip, even after surgery, the scar remained, indicating his place in society
  • After a fight with Assef, Amir also had a cut on his lip
  • “The impact had cut your upper lip in two, he had said, clean down the middle. Clean down the middle. Like a harelip.”(Hosseini, 312)
  • Amir`s cleft lip symbolizes his sacrifice and unity of Afghanistan`s two halves
  • Rape
  • Assef is sexually abusing Sohrab, Hassan`s son
  • Symbolizing Hassan`s continual rape
  • Sohrab represented a living piece of Hassan
  • However, Amir is to stop this and do what Baba expected from him and stand up for what is right
  • Farid
  • The symbol for Amir’s ambition to do what is right and redeem himself
  • Farid is the Afghan side of Amir
  • He speaks his mind and his actions follow
  • Attacked director of orphanage – standing up for what is right
  • “Farid was a man in his element.”
  • Bullet Pocketed Sign
  • “I saw a bullet-pocked sign half buried at an angle in a heap of debris. It read DRINK COCA-CO-.”
  • It symbolizes the countries inability to grow and develop and how poverty has restricted the choice to even drink coca-cola.


  • Both Hassan and Sohrab save Amir from Assef with the slingshot
  • “I’m the one holding the slingshot. If you make a move, they’ll have to change your nickname from Assef ‘the Ear Eater’ to ‘One – Eyed Assef’…” (Hosseini, 45)
  • “Sohrab had the slingshot pointed to Assef’s face.” (Hosseini, 304)
  • Both Amir and Assef laughed when they got beat up
  • “He got mad and hit me harder, and the harder he kicked me, the harder I laughed.” (Hosseini, 297)
  • “My body was broken – just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later – but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed.” (Hosseini, 303)


How does the description of Amir’s journey from Jalalabad to Kabul make an effective backdrop to this section? Include Amir’s encounter with the old beggar.

  • The journey introduces the signs of war.
  • Amir notices the contrast between peace and violence.
  • The trip is full of winding roads and passages through rocks.
  • 20 years ago Amir was traveling on the same path, except going the other way, and in a tarpaulin-covered truck.
  • “Twenty years earlier, I had seen some of the first war with my own eyes…The second war I had watched on my TV screen and now I was seeing it through Farid’s eyes.” (Hosseini 255)
  • He sees beggars everywhere, and all the shops and houses from his childhood were piles of rubble.
  • Amir meets a beggar who used to be a university professor.
  • Beggar knew his mother. He tells Amir he will try to remember and that Amir should come back later.
  • It wasn’t strange how the beggar was somehow related to Amir, as Baba used to say: “Take two Afghans who’ve never met, put them in a room for ten minutes, and they’ll figure out how they’re related.”

What information does Amir learn about Sohrab? What does his reaction to this news reveal about his character?

  • Learns that Sohrab is no longer at the orphanage
  • The director sold him to a Taliban official.
  • Amir is now more courageous and wants to find the official that took Sohrab. So they go to Ghazi Stadium.
  • When Amir goes to the appointment and tells Farid he’s done enough for him and this is personal business
  • However, Amir wishes someone would accompany him.
  • He wishes Baba was there with him, and thinks what Baba would do at a time like this
  • Since that’s not possible, Amir had to man up and face the challenge himself.

The director of the Kabul orphanage tries to defend his actions – or lack thereof- on page 268 where he explains that the Talib officer takes a child away every one or two months.  Can his explanation be morally justified if his action results in the other children being fed when they perhaps would have otherwise starved?

  • I don’t think that the director of Kabul Orphanage actions can be justified because eventually every child will get taken away and it is also better to starve and live with pride than to live with shame.
  • Even though the director wants the children to eat, he will have to live with his conscience of knowing what the officers will do to that child.

Amir visits his childhood home, and then the cemetery and finally the pomegranate tree.  What does he discover at these places? How does he feel?

  • Amir says this when he returns to his childhood home nearly 20 years later and is disappointed to find like everything else in Kabul it has been diminished of its former glory.
  • When Farid says “How much more do you need to see? Let me save you the trouble:” Nothing you remember has survived. Best to forget.” Amir reply’s by saying “I don’t want to forget anymore.”
  • Shows how Amir feels when he is reintroduced to his favorite places as a child
  • He does not want to forget anymore, meaning that after what had happened to Hassan the winter Amir won the kite tournament all he’s ever wanted to do since then was to forget.
  • The pomegranate tree was an important part of Amir’s childhood because he spent a lot of his time sitting underneath it reading to Hassan.
  • When Amir was a kid he had carved “Amir and Hassan. The sultans of Kabul.” In the tree trunk. When Amir saw this he thought about his childhood and how beautiful Kabul use to be.

The scene at the stadium is one of unspeakable horror.  What is the effect of Amir’s reference to the Talib official as John Lennon?

  • Amir makes a reference to the Talib official (Assef) as John Lennon because they both pursue similar appearances.
  • For instance:
  • Both of them (John Lennon and Assef)  wear black sunglasses.
  • Assef wears sunglasses so that he doesn’t feel isolated from other Talibs. It also portrays him as a leader among others because he founded the Taliban.
  • John Lennon also wore sunglasses to maintain his image in the Beatles.

Amir’s confrontation with Assef marks an important turning point in the novel.  Why does the author have Amir, Assef, and Sohrab all come together in this way? What is the significance of the scar that Amir develops as a result of the confrontation? Why might this be considered Amir’s journey toward forgiveness and acceptance?


  • Repeating the scene of Hassan`s rape that made Amir feel guilty for 20 yrs.
  • Life giving Amir another chance to correct his past mistakes and to become good again
  • One- Eyed Assef


  • For Hassan it was his position in society
  • For Amir it is a symbol of sacrifice
  • Signifying the union of Afghanistan`s two halves


  • It is Amir’s time to intervene in Hassan’s rape (symbolically) and saving Sohrab from further abuse

“My body was broken – just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later – but I felt healed. Healed at last.  I laughed.” (303). Explain the fact that Amir needed to be broken in order to be healed – and that ironically, Assef had a similar experience with he was in jail.

  • Needed to be broken in order to be healed, Assef has the same experience (Hosseini, 289)
  • He lets him beat him because Amir feels that he deserves this and he feels relieved
  • He struggled with his guilt and it became even worse because he was never punished for his actions
  • Example when he was asking for punishment – when Amir hits Hassan with pomegranates
  • Assef beats Amir, and he laughs
  • Assef goes to jail (Hosseini, 296)
  • Commandant takes Assef and starts to beat him and the stone passed, he felt relief in that way
  • As he hit him, he laughed harder – a message from God (Hosseini, 297)

While in the hospital recovering from his terrible injuries, Amir has a dream of wrestling a bear.  Why is this dream so important at this point in the story? What does the dream finally help Amir realize?

  • It is showing development in Amir’s character.
  • Demonstrates how Amir’s courageous act of finally standing up for himself has made him into his childhood perception of his Baba, which was brave, noble, and charitable.
  • The bear could be a symbol of his ongoing fight to overcome his guilt and his feeling of unworthiness which was always present throughout his life somewhere in his mind.
  • It could also be that Amir has become like his father, his father had wronged his childhood friend Ali and did many good things in a way to redeem himself
  • Like Rahim Khan said in his letter Baba had found a way to create good out of his remorse, and while Amir does not directly say this but he too has become a better man after conquering the bear which in this case his guilt.

a) Rahim’s letter talks of forgiveness and defines redemption.  Is Amir ready to forgive himself to be ‘redeemed’ at this point?
b) Is Rahim’s definition of redemption – “when guilt leads to good” (316) an accurate one?
c) What is and/or is not redeemed in the novel.

a)Yes because he mentions it several times after confronting Assef. For instance, he says that he feels healed after he faces Assef without being a coward.  He says: “ I hadn’t been happy and I hadn’t felt better, not at all. But I did now. My body was broken- just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later but I felt healed, Healed at last. I laughed”

b) It is somewhat accurate because most religions are based on redemption.
Atonement for guilt is not fully accurate because even guilt does not always lead to something good.

c) The fact that Hassan died before Amir could even apologize. However, Amir after confronting Assef and saving Sohrab from the Taliban he is living his past again with Sohrab. This time he has also promised to be a good friend.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0


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