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Amir

...my entire life ... had been a cycle of lies, betrayals and secrets.


amir

Amir is the protagonist of The Kite Runner. He was born into a privileged Pashtun family, and grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan. Amir was raised by his father Baba as his mother died in childbirth. This loss shapes him in a negative way as Baba is conflicted about his relationship with Amir. He feels that Baba is angry at him and, perhaps blames him for the death of his mother. "Did he ache for her, the way I ached for the mother I had never met?" As a parallel, Amir aches for his father who is emotionally and metaphorically missing in his life. Amir is conflicted about his identity, he is interested in books, he is thoughtful,but not very athletic. He is quite introverted and he prefers to write stories in his notebook rather than play soccer, much to his father's dismay. Amir wants to be the sports-orientated, brave man that he believes Baba wants him to be. Amir wants a better relationship with his father and is strongly motivated by the wish to make this fantasy a reality—ultimately with tragic results. As a result, Amir is constantly trying to earn his father's approval but he struggles to get his father's attention. He becomes jealous when his father pays more attention to Hassan, the son of the family servant Ali. After moving to the US with his father, Amir becomes a student and later a writer. After he marries a young Afghan woman, Soraya Taheri, he publishes his first novel. However, he is haunted by his childhood betrayal of Hassan, and he eventually travels back to Kabul to put things right . Throughout the novel Amir wants to be a good person and he is constantly upset by his own shortcomings, particularly in his relationship with Hassan. He needs to find redemption.

Hassan

For you, a thousand times over.

Characters - The Kite Runner

Hassan is the son of Ali and he is also a servant at Baba's house and he is about the same age as Amir. He is a fiercely loyal person, and is Amir's constant companion. Although he was born with a harelip, he is unselfconscious and very happy, renowned for his smile. Although he is illiterate, he is intelligent. Hassan is also strong, athletic, and brave. He is incapable of deceitwhich means thathe can’t tell when Amir is tricking him. His main talent is running the kites in the annual winter kite tournament in Kabul. Kite runners chase the fallen kites that are the casualties of the tournament. Hassan has an uncanny ability to sense where the kites will land. Hassan has an innocent, trusting nature but is very perceptive. He accepts everything with love, including his place in life and Amir's treatment of him. After Hassan is raped by the bully Assef, he knows that Amir saw the attack and did nothing but he does not speak of it. Even when Amir betrays him a second time by telling Baba that Hassan has stolen from them, Hassan apologises as if he committed the crime. Hassan and Ali leave Kabul and return to the Hazajarat region where the Hazara people have historically lived. Hassan never holds a grudge against Amir for his actions.

Baba

There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft.

baba

To Amir, Baba is an awe-inspiring man whose power seems to be as great as that of any hero in the fables. It is not only Amir's impression that Baba is 'a force of nature'; Rahim Khan nicknamed him Toophan Agha or Mr Hurricane. As the son of such a powerful and dominant man Amir struggles to emerge from his father's shadow. Baba isa stubborn, energetic man and a prosperous merchant and he is as well-respected for his commercial successes as for his charitable endeavours. He is great host and given to grand gestures and excessive hospitality. After his wife died while giving birth to Amir, Baba finds it difficult to relate to a son who is so different from himself—introverted, tentative, and intellectual instead of outgoing, strong, and decisive. He observes with disgust that when Amir and Hassan get into scrapes with local boys, Hassan, not Amir, stands up to the bullies. Baba never remarried, preferring to surround himself with male friends and business associates in a house more often than not filled with guests. A Sunni Muslim and an ethical man, Baba counsels his son never to steal; yet he opposes organised religion and dismisses the warnings of the mullahs (religious teachers) who provide religious instruction in Amir's schools. Despite his stern attitude toward his son, he is a loving father. When Baba and Amir move to California, Baba works at a gas station so Amir can complete his schooling. He proudly presents his son to the Taheri family as a prospective husband for their daughter Soraya, and in the end respects his son for who he has become.

Rahim Khan

There is a way to be good again.

Rahim Khan is a business associate of Baba and he frequently visits with him to discuss their common commercial interests, politics, and personal matters.He is Baba's best friend and frequently steps in when friction between father and son creates misunderstandings. Khan encourages Amir's interest in writing by giving him a journal for his thirteenth birthday and sympathises with Amir's desperate attempts to earn his father's approval. Khan is also the guardian of a serious family secret, he knows who Hassan's real father is. After Amir and Baba leave Afghanistan, he lives in their house, hoping to return it to them once the political turmoil in Kabul comes to an end. Later, growing older and lonelier, Khan finds Hassan and brings him and his wife to live with him in Kabul. Khan becomes seriously ill and moves to Pakistan. He contacts the adult Amir in the United States,calls him to Pakistan, and relates to Amir the history of Hassan, his wife, and their young son.

Assef

Ethnic cleansing. I like the sound of it.

Assef is a bully and proud of it. Even as a child he enjoyed tormenting Hazaras, including Ali and Hassan. Assef is sadistic and he relishes the humilation he inflicts on Hassan when he violates him so brutally.
Assef admires Hitler and the rise of the Taliban gives him an opportunity to express his racist ideas fully. He is evil and a paedophile and the reader despises him completely. Assef's treatment of Sohrab can be seen as symbolic of the destructive relationship between the Taliban and the oppressed groups of the Hazaras and women in Afghanistan.

Sohrab

I want my old life back.

Sohrab is Hassan's son
and we first hear of him through Rahim Khan: Sanuabar, after his birth, was ‘clutching that baby in her arms like she never wanted to let go.’ The reader first meets him as an orphan being held and abused by the Taliban, he is a mascara-eyed dancer. Sohrab is brave and assertive towards Assef, but he is psychologically damaged by his abuse. Assef takes away his dignity, making him feel 'dirty' and 'sinful'.
Sohrab is like Hassan in many ways. He is good despite how he has been treated. Sohrab is deeply damaged by his experiences and his suicide attempt reveals the extent of his despair. His silence is a barrier to prevent futher pain, he closes down to avoid more hurt.
The kite is once again used as a symbol in the novel. The soaring kite indicates that Sohrab is beginning to heal. When he and Amir beat the green kite the reader understands that there is hope for Sohrab's recovery and that they can become a family.

Ali

Hassan was crying. Ali pulled him close, clutched him with tenderness.


Ali is the lifelong servant of Baba's family. He grew up with Baba in much the same way as Amir and Hassan. Baba's family adopted him after his parents were killed for no reason by Pashtuns. Ali was adopted when he was about the same age as Sohrab was when he was sent to the orphanage. Ali is extremely loyal to Baba and Amir.He lives with his only child Hassan in a simple servant's house on Baba's property. Ali was abandoned by his wife Sanaubar, who ran away soon after giving birth to Hassan.He is part ofthe marginalised Hazara ethnic group that historically lived in the mountainous Hazajarat region of Afghanistan and later returns there when Hassan is accused of theft. Ali is a proud man who rejects dishonour and leaves Baba's household rather than live with the shame of his son being thought of as a thief. Ali was stricken with polio as a child and he endures the ridicule of the local boys for his pronounced limp and gnarled appearance. His persecution mirrors that of the Hazara persecution by the Pashtuns. When Amir reads about the Pashtuns he finds out that they had suppressed the Hazara with "unspeakable violence". Ali is described as having "congenital paralysis of his lower facial muscles, a condition that rendered him unable to smile and left him perpetually grim-faced." Hassan also has a facial scar from the operation to correct his hare-lip and by the end of the novel Amir also has a scar on his face.

Soraya

I make one mistake and suddenly everyone is talking ... and I have my face rubbed in it for the rest of my life.

Amir falls in love with Soraya when he sees her at the flea market, "I blinked, my heart quickening." Sheis the daughter of the once-important General Taheri who had a great deal of influence in the governmentbefore the Taliban came to power. Soraya is an intelligent, beautiful young woman, she adheres to theways of themale dominatedAfghan culture. She does this despite her rebellious attitude toward her father's domineering manner and the double standardsregarding thegenders in Afghan society thatthat her father still upholds. Soraya and her family are also exiles from Afghanistan whomeet with the Afghan communityon Saturday at the flea market. Soraya is considered to have ascandalous pastbecause she lived with a man that she was not married to. She is not considered marriageable because of this and is interesting that she marries Amir who thinks of himself as damaged and soiled.As a result of her past Sorayaputs upwith gossipfrom the Afghan community.Once married Sorayadedicates herself to the care of herAmir and Baba while pursing her goal of becoming a teacher.

General Taheri

People will ask. They will want to know why there is a Hazara boy living with our daughter.

General Taheri is the father of Soraya. He is a dignified man who is well-known in the Afghan community in California.The General symbolises the resilence of patriarchal values. He dominates his wife, stopping her from doing things she loves. Taheri always wearsa worn, but well-made suit to remind people of his previous status.The General is is too proud to work because of his former importance in Afghanistan. He goes to the weekly flea market where he socialises with other Afghan immigrants and refers to his small flea market trade as a "hobby" that allows him to keep in touch with friends. His wife and daughter tend their market stall while the General talks politics with their friends. General Taheri is always hoping for the end of the Taliban regime as he expects that when that happens he will receive an offer to return to Kabul to take up a post in the government.The General also maintains the racial prejudices of the Pashtuns by calling Sohrab a 'Hazara boy'. He is, however, a good man at heart and he does try to do his best for his family. As he gets older his relationship does improve with Soraya but he does represent the intolerance and inflexibility of male dominated Afghan society.


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