We are first introduced to Amir, Ali, and Hassan in the recollections of the “poplar trees in the driveway of my father’s house” (Hosseini 3).
Ironically, Amir, whose name is Arabic for “commander”, coerces Hassan into mischief such as shining light with a mirror towards neighbors and shooting a dog with his slingshot. Ali would catch them and get mad but only “as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get” (Hosseini 4).
In his soft scolding of the two, Ali would remind them of an old Muslim saying concerning the devil and mirrors, immediately identifying him as a pious individual. Although the scolding proves to be sufficient in correcting Hassan, it has no effect on Amir who does not hold himself accountable to these precepts. This scene is very important in identifying who possess moral strength early on and in predicting future actions.
Ali and Hassan are identified very early on as Hazaras, Mongoloid descendants that “looked a little like Chinese people” (Hosseini 9).
They are a minority in an Arab nation filled with Pashtuns, the ethnicity of Amir and Baba. Hazaras are also identified as Shi’a Muslims as opposed to the more prevalent Sunni, adding to their alienation. Due to a conflict far in the past, the Hazaras of Afghanistan have been stripped of power and placed in a subservient position. When the Taliban emerges later in the novel, it is the Hazaras that are persecuted above all. Hassan eventually loses his lives in defense a home his nation would never acknowledge was his own. It is from this position that we observe the relationship between Amir, Hassan, Ali, and Baba.
The character of Amir goes through drastic changes as he moves from adolescence to adulthood. As a child Amir begins his life in Kabul, where his character is shaped through conflicts with his father and Hassan. Later, when he moves to America he leaves these conflicts behind and is able to create a stronger relationship with his father. However, when Amir is an adult he is called back to ...
Although Baba, Sanskrit for “father”, and Ali are relatively the same age, there has been a servant-master relationship between the two for decades. Baba’s power over his household goes without question and, although it is absolute, he rarely abuses it. He shows this on more than one occasion but most importantly in his decision to forgive Hassan of his accused theft, despite the great hatred he has for that particular sin. Ali’s decision to still leave, in spite of this, is his final exhibition of moral strength and consequently his final appearance in the novel. Prior to this, Baba’s only noticeable misuse of power in his relationship with Ali is in his affair with Sanaubar, Ali’s wife. This affair sows the seeds for future deception and heartbreak as Amir is not informed of this affair until it is too late for him to have any influence on Hassan’s life. Powerless to aid the deceased Hassan, this fact does, however, motivate Amir to rescue Sohrab near the end of the novel.
Amir, as an individual, is shown to grow in strength as the novel progresses. Although his strength is rather questionable in his early days with Hassan, as he moves from the streets of Kabul to Fremont, he grows little by little. His ability to quell an argument between a convenient store owner and his father is one he did not possess at the start of the novel. He then escorts a reluctant Baba to the hospital when he begins to show signs of cancer. As his interest in Soraya grows, so does his courage. In the beginning, Amir is unable to even look her in the eye at the flea market without feeling out of place but by the middle of the novel is bold enough to ask his father for her hand in marriage. His relationship with General Taheri also dramatically changes as he grows older. Initially, General Taheri’s presence strikes fear into the heart of Amir, especially when Soraya is near. By the time of Sohrab’s introduction, Amir commands the General to “…never again refer to him as ‘Hazara boy’ in my presence. He has a name and it’s Sohrab” (Hosseini 361).
Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is a touching tale of an Afghani boy’s upbringing. Despite having a protagonist brought up in a culture unfamiliar to most North Americans, the book has found widespread readership. One of the many reasons for the book’s popularity is the development and believability of the father-son relationships that we are introduced to right at the ...
Even in religion, Amir subtly grows until he eventually “…didn’t have to consult the prayer pamphlet from the mosque anymore; the verses came naturally now, effortlessly” (Hosseini 364).
These changes reflect a character that has truly come into power by the end of the novel.
Strength, both its acquisition and exhibition, is a central theme in Khaled Hosseini’s novel, The Kite Runner. From naming to plot development, the author chose to incorporate this theme in almost every aspect of story. It serves as a basis for relationships lost and gained throughout the novel and reflects a nation divided in religion and ethnicity. Most importantly, strength transforms our narrator from an insecure, guilt-ridden boy into a confident husband and uncle.