The Kite Runner Study Guide

The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir, son of Baba and a well-off Pashtun boy, and his younger friend Hassan, a Hazara and the son of Baba's servant Ali. The two play in peaceful Kabul, spending their days kite fighting. Hassan is Amir's 'kite runner' - the one who retrieves the fallen kites when a kite fight ends. Amir has a father figure in the form of Rahim Khan, a friend of his fathers.

Assef, an older boy with a sadistic streak, hates Amir for socializing with a Hazara, whom he believes should be forcibly separates from 'real society'. Upon first meeting Hassan, Assef threatens Hassan with brass knuckles, but Hassan calmly draws back a slingshot and promises to shoot out Assef's left eye. Assef backs off, but says he will take revenge one day.

One day, Amir wins a kite-fighting tournament, and asks Hassan to run his kite. Hassan replies "for you, a thousand times over!" and runs to get the kite. On his way back, he is cornered by Assef, but refuses to give up Amir's kite. Assef and his henchmen beat and rape Hassan, but Hassan never gives up the kite. Amir, who wondered why the kite was taking so long to run, witnessed the rape but was too frightened to intervene. He justifies it to himself by telling himself that Assef is right -- Hassan is 'just a Hazara'.

The two boys drift apart, Amir ashamed by his weakness and Hassan's saint-like behavior in refusing to give the kite up. Amir finally forces Hassan to leave by framing him for theft, to get away from the source of his guilt.

Five years later, the Soviets invade Afghanistan, and Amir and Baba move to San Jose, California, where they live as common men. Amir married Sohrab, a fellow refugee, and becomes a novelist. Fifteen years after his wedding, he receives a mysterious call from Rahim Khan telling him "there is a way to be good again."

Amir learns that Hassan had a son named Sohrab, who was made an orphan with the Taliban killed Amir -- and that Hassan was actually Amir's half-brother, Baba's son by another woman. Khan implores Amir to come to Afghanistan and save Sohrab from the orphanage.

When he gets there, he learns that a Taliban official took Sohrab away for his own purposes. Amir sets up a meeting, and the official starts asking him personal questions about Hassan, Ali, and Baba -- it is Assef, who has stolen Sohrab in fulfillment of his long-promised vengeance. Sohrab is being forced to wear women's clothing and dance, and it is implied that he is a sex slave for Assef as well.

Assef agrees to turn Sohrab over in exchange for the opportunity to beat Amir. Amir relents, and Assef and his men beat Amir nearly to death, thwarted only when Sohrab appears and shoots Assef's left eye out with his slingshot, in turn fulfilling the threat his father had made years ago.

Amir takes Sohrab to America and adopts him, a process which takes years. When Sohrab finally is able to make it, he refuses to speak to or even look at Amir. Finally, things between them thaw as Amir reminisces about his kite-duelling days with Hassan, showing Sohrab some of Hassan's old tricks. In the end, Sohrab manages a half-smile at Amir, which fills his heart with joy. Amir suddenly takes off after Sohrab's kite, determined to run it for him, saying as he goes "for you, a thousand times over

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