When this tall-tale story begins, it entwines the paths of two boys focused on the sky with arms wide open and a string in hand. Our narrator of this wondrous tale is Amir, the son of a wealthy father (Baba) in Afghanistan, Kabul, with his counterpart Hassan a simple Hazara always at his side at every beck and call. They share a home, are of similar age, and are inseparable. The young boys spend most of their youth in Kabul flying kites, playing tricks on hapless victims, wandering the streets, and just being themselves.
Amir has two strong male influences: his father and Rahim Khan. As for Baba, very strict in his ways with Amir’s upbringing shall be. Also, Baba is very adamant about his disappointment in Amir being very weak physically and very unlike himself; this plays as a hindrance with Amir, who is always trying to achieve his father’s affections. Amir also feels guilt due to his mother’s death giving birth to him, thus another element that has split him further away from his father, Baba. But to his amazement, Amir finds a kinship and father figure in Baba’s long-time friend Rahim Khan, a man who offers many words of wisdom and strength. He knows how intricate Amir’s mind is and seems to create a strong connection with Amir and his writing.
Further in the story the author introduces its first villain, Assef, a notoriously mean and sadistic boy. Always hazing Amir for playing with Hassan, Assef holds great racism toward Hassan being a Hazara and being Mongolian (Not Pashtun). From Assef’s point of view, Hassan is trash and should be dealt with as such. In a moment of conflict between Amir and Assef, a fight develops. Assef brings up the meaning behind his knick name and bestows his steel knuckles, but Hassan, always faithful to Amir, strikes back with his trusty slingshot. Assef eventually turns away, from the idea his eye might be struck, but he assures Hassan that this dialogue is far from over.
The kite play is brought to attention for its main point in the story with Hassan as the main player at this game of wits in Amir’s arsenal, uncannily, always knowing where the kite lands. On the day of Kabul’s greatest event, the kite tournament, Amir faces the greatest battle he will ever intake: a battle for his father’s love and honor. After hours and hours of fighting each kite with strategies in play Amir finally wins the war-- a war within himself and the main prize of this is his father’s love, acceptance, and honor. As the last kite drifts towards the ground, another prize to put on the mantle, Hassan rushes towards it telling Amir, “For you, a thousand times over!” the last friendly words that will be spoken to each other for some time. While the celebration ensues and every Afghan cools down from the event, Hassan will soon find himself in a predicament that even he can’t conquer: a fight with Assef and his gang once again. Sadly, the fight is for Amir’s prized kite which Assef wishes to be his. But Hassan, ever faithful to his master, does not yield to Assef. Assef and his gang decide to rape Hassan. While this struggle for dominance ensues, Amir is not far from the fight and is watching, too scared and weak as always, so all he does is stand by and helplessly hide from view. After this ordeal Amir keeps his distance from Hassan because of the guilt he feels for not helping his friend when he was in great need. Amir acts harshly towards Hassan for the next few weeks, making sure his distance is furthered, and is agitated by Hassan’s honorable nature.
From this guilt stems a plan by Amir to kick Hassan out of his home and finally be free: Amir frames Hassan as a thief. The reason in Amir’s twisted judgment is that this was the just course of action and would result in Hassan not having to endure Assef’s presence anymore. Hassan, once again faithful to Amir and knowing that it was of Amir’s doing, confesses to the action. Baba forgives him despite the fact that, as he explained earlier, he believes that, "There is no act more sinful, than theft." When Hassan and his father (Ali) finally leave, Amir is momentarily relived of his guilt and cowardice.
The story jumps five or so years later, still in Afghanistan. Now the Soviets invade Afghanistan: Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar then to Pakistan. Along the way Amir is reminded of his father’s courage during a terrifying truck ride. A Soviet check point is visional and the stage is set, a Russian soldier calls forth for the female in the truck to inevitably rape her, Baba stands up for her, valiant as ever, and the soldier backs down because of his chain of command talking him down. After all that is behind them, the two immigrate to Fremont, California, where Amir and Baba find themselves in poverty for the first time in their lives. But even so, Amir will manage to go to junior college to become a writer by working with his father selling junk in flea markets.
Some years later, out of the blue, Amir receives a call from Rahim Khan, who asks Amir to come to Pakistan. He tells Amir, "There is a way to be good again." When Amir shows up in Pakistan, Rahim gives him an update about his old friend Hassan. Amir finds out that the Taliban has killed Hassan and his wife, but their son is in an orphanage. In a turn of events Amir also finds out that Hassan is in fact his half-brother and not Ali’s son. Rahim Khan tells Amir the true reason he called-- to have Amir go to Kabul and rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab, from an orphanage.
Amir finds himself being the hero for once in his life-- he embarks and finds the location where Sohrab is being held at an encampment. To Amir’s amazement, the villain is once again his old nemesis, Assef. Amir finds out that Sohrab is being held at brothel of sorts, made to dance as a transvestite. Assef tells Amir that he will let the boy go, but for a price. Amir needs to take punishment in order to have the boy given to him. He endures a brutal beaten, but to Assefs rescue, Sohrab pulls his slingshot and takes Assef’s eye out with a clear hit; fulfilling the promise that his late father had made to Assef so many years ago.
Amir lets Sohrab know of his plans to take him back to America. Almost having to break that promise (after decades of war, paperwork documenting Sohrab's orphan status) as well as Sohrab falling into great depression and thus attempting suicide, Amir finally succeeds in his final attempt to atone for all his many years of guilt and introduces Sohrab to his wife. But, Sohrab is deeply disturbed and refuses to speak or even look at Soraya. But after a while of telling stories of Amir’s childhood with Hassan flying kites, Sohrab finally gives in and starts to feel the warmth of life again. The two fly kites together and Sohrab begins to fully interact with him. In the end of this story, Sohrab only shows a smile, but Amir runs a kite for Sohrab, saying, "For you, a thousand times over."
In summary, what I think the author was trying to get across in this book was a contrast of two boys: one portrayed as the embodiment of integrity (Hassan), and the other shrouded in guilt (Amir). Every paragraph I read through this tale was more about the author trying to gain sympathy (in the first person) than really telling a story of a weak-minded fool becoming a hero for his mistakes in the past. What I have retained from the author is a small man plagued with guilt and always asking for acceptance or praise; something I shall never be.
asked 10 Apr '13, 22:43
At first I thought this was a wonderful children's story. But wow once they grow up, this really takes a twist! This would be a good movie, yes it is filled full of things to make you feel sorry for Amir. I believe that is the point.
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