The first question I tend to ask myself when reading a book is,
“What special significance does the title have?”
Note that Amir the main character was a Kite FIGHTER. Hassan his servant on the other hand was a Kite RUNNER, and a pivotal moment in the book which changed everything and set things in motion like a domino effect occurred when Hassan chased after a kite to retrieve it for Amir.
Hence, just from the choice of title we can infer that much of the plot centers around Hassan and in turn he helps shape the course of the book significantly directly as well as indirectly.
This is later evinced when Amir relates how his guilt has been haunting him owing to the way he treated Hassan even though he had full knowledge about the lengths Hassan had gone to help him.
Alternatively, Khaled Hosseini picked the title because he had heard that the Taliban had banned kite fighting in Afghanistan which to him felt like a grave and esp. cruel injustice which had more to do with exerting power to prove a point than anything else.
By the same token, Amir initially set out to win the prestigious kite fighting tournament in order to make his father proud of him. If you observe carefully, you’ll find that there was unhealthy sibling rivalry between Hassan & Amir from the start, mostly due to the way Amir behaved- which had a lot to do with his constant urge to prove himself worthy to his father.
To exemplify this point, call to mind when Amir exploits the fact that Hassan is illiterate and teaches him incorrect meanings of words. Later he feels the action weighing his conscience down and decides to give Hassan a pity “shirt” or two to make things even.
The book comes full cycle when at the very end Sohrab shoots Assef in the eye with the help of his trusty slingshot as Hassan had threatened to do many years earlier. This element of cyclic structure is further explored when Amir chases a kite down for Sohrab just like Hassan had done for him in the past even going so far as to invoke Hassan’s pledge of loyalty in A Severus Snape-esque manner, “For You A Thousand Times Over.”
With that being said, it is important to highlight Amir’s dream of being a writer. While this was not exclusively encouraged by his father early in his life, Rahim Khan his father’s friend always remembered to leave a good remark or two to encourage him. Also, Hassan would listen to him and was witty enough to spot a plot hole.
Stories of heroism play a big role in the childhood of the two brothers -Hassan & Amir- would often sit below a pomegranate tree and read from “The Epic Of The Kings”. Their favorite story was none other than Rustem & Sohrab which narrates the tragic tale of a father who unwittingly kills his son before finding out the truth during the dying breaths of the young warrior.
On the Pomegranate tree the dynamic duo carved “Amir & Hassan the sultans of Kabul.” I am of the opinion that this is a symbol which denotes how hazzarahs and pashtuns are capable of getting along and peacefully co-existing.
Other than that the way Amir dealt with Soraya’s past is commendable. In our tradition if a girl has a “past”, the social stigma in itself is enough to convince her that there is no hope of redemption. Hats off to Amir for being more accepting than the quintessential man from the east.
In the same fashion, Amir’s father stands up to the Russian man who demands tribute in terms of another man’s wife during the exodus from Kabul. “War doesn’t negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.” – Baba He risks his own life to safeguard the women in the vehicle which just goes to show his principles put to practice.
On the flip side, one plot hole I cannot reconcile myself with was that Assef the leader of the Taliban squad is homosexual. Technically, he should have been stoned to death by his own second in command. It’s harder to suspend my disbelief and find verisimilitude when Hosseini does something unbelievable like that. That said, there was enough local color to lure in people from other cultures and expose them to an exotic Afghanistan and all the potential it had pre-USSR and Taliban.
Keeping all of this in mind, I highly suggest all bibliophiles to collect a copy at the nearest bookstore and assimilate the ideas and themes of this book. Happy reading!