Kite Runner and the History of Afghanistan

Timeline created by avag
  • Hassan Wards Off Assef with a Slingshot

    Hassan Wards Off Assef with a Slingshot
    One day, while Amir and Hassan are outside playing, Assef and his minions Wali and Kamal seek a fight with the pair of them. But before Assef can wound Amir, Hassan fishes out his slingshot and warns, "If you make a move, they'll have to change your nickname... to 'One-Eyed Assef,' because I have this rock pointed at your left eye" (Hosseini 42). Hassan's courage saves Amir, at personal risk—a demonstration of an unrequited, selfless love for his master and friend.
  • Hassan's Surgery

    For Hassan's tenth birthday, Baba presents him with a plastic surgeon, Dr. Kumar, who mends his harelip. Immediately after the procedure, when Hassan wakes, "his lips [twist], and that time, [Amir] just [knows] what he [is] doing. He [is] smiling" (Hosseini 47). Hassan is clearly overwhelmed by his gift, and this reaction is an example of his innocence and joy. What's more, the faint scare above his lip ironically parallels an injury Amir sustains defending Sohrab in the coming chapters.
  • Hassan's Rape

    Hassan's Rape
    In the winter of 1975, Amir, peeking into a deserted alley near a frozen creek, witnesses the bully Assef, aided by Wali and Kamal, rape his friend Hassan. From then on, the guilt of his inaction eats at him, unable to shake the image of "Hassan's brown corduroy pants lying on the bricks" (Hosseini 91). We see that Amir is strangled by the memory of his disloyalty, and it greatly affects the development of his character and that of Hassan as they both mature.
  • Kite Tournament

    Kite Tournament
    One winter, Amir wins the coveted first place in Kabul's kite tournament. He recounts, ''And that right there was the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on the roof, proud of me at last" (Hosseini 66). Here, Amir revels in Baba's attention and affection and sends Hassan to go run his trophy. This reveals the strength of Amir's thirst for Baba's validation, which he craved for years, and sets up the measures he will go to to hold onto it.
  • Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

    The Soviet army first "parachute[s] into Kabul on Dec. 27, 1979, to assist Babrak Karmal, who had become president in a coup within the Afghan communist leadership" (New York Times).
  • Escape from Kabul

    Escape from Kabul
    Baba and Amir ride in a crowded truck en route to Jalalabad (and, eventually, Peshawar). Along the way, they are stopped by a group of soldiers, one of whom demands a half hour of sex with a female passenger. Baba intervenes. "Ask him," he says, powerfully, righteously, "where his shame is" (Hosseini 115). Afterwards, Baba and Amir—who cowered shame-faced while Baba argued—are both left to wonder what made the two of them so different, gnawed on by the distance between them.
  • Baba Dies (date approximate)

    Baba Dies (date approximate)
    Baba passes away peacefully in his sleep a month after Soraya and Amir's wedding and on the night that Soraya's relatives visit his apartment, shared with his caretakers Soraya and Amir, for a lovely and memorable dinner. "There is no pain tonight," Baba says just before midnight (Hosseini 173), and the couple pulls up his blankets and wish him good night. There is a sense of closure and rest, but also a finality. And Baba's death, it turns out, frees up Amir to face up to his ghosts.
  • Soraya and Amir Marry (date approximate)

    Soraya and Amir Marry (date approximate)
    Soraya and Amir throw a traditional Afghan wedding. At one time, a veil is tossed over to them and they are handed a mirror to gaze at each other. Amir narrates, "Looking at Soraya's smiling face in that mirror, in the momentary privacy of the veil, I [whisper] to her for the first time that I [love] her" (Hosseini 171). This sweetly intimate and innocent moment is an example of the powerful bond that exists between Amir and Soraya against a backdrop of cultural expectations (the veil).
  • Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    The damage from the Soviet invasion is lasting. The conflict made the country a "beacon" to radical Islamists (New York Times), Osama Bin Laden included, as they came to assist in the battle. And ten years later, when, in February of 1989, the Soviets retreat from Afghanistan following negotiations with the UN, the country becomes deeply divided.
  • Soraya and Amir's Fertility Checkup

    Amir describes their last visit to the fertility doctor, after rounds of IVF and testing and treatments, as such, "He sat across from us, tapped the desk with his fingers, and used the word 'adoption' for the first time. Soraya cried all the way home" (Hosseini 186). The news that the couple is mysteriously infertile is painful, but the pair still nurture a fierce longing for a child. They are frustrated and grieving and full of yearning, and they want very much to be parents.
  • The Taliban Grows

    By 1994, Mullah Omar—a Pashtun who led a group of student followers committed to making Afghanistan clean, their first action being to punish warlords that had raped a girl—gains support to the tune of 12,000, because "with his promise of restoring the centrality of Islam to daily life, he create[s] a genuinely popular movement in a country weary of corruption and brutality" (New York Times).
  • Pakistan Backs Taliban

    Soon, the Pakistani government "beg[ins] funneling arms, money and supplies to Mullah Omar's men, as well as military supplies to help guide them in battle" (New York Times).
  • Taliban Victorious

    The Taliban, having taken over Afghanistan, "impos[es] strict enforcement of fundamentalist Islamic law, banning movies and music and forcing women out of schools and into all-enveloping burqa clothing" (New York Times).
  • The Taliban Shelters Osama bin Laden

    The Taliban agrees to protect Osama bin Laden and the terrorist group he spearheads, Al Qaeda in May of 1996. Despite pressure from other countries, they refuse to deliver him, "seem[ing] almost to welcome pariah status" (New York Times).
  • Rahim Khan's Call

    Rahim Khan's Call
    An aging Rahim Khan, Baba's good friend and a father figure to Amir, calls Amir at his home in California with the request that he visit Afghanistan and the promise that "there is a way to be good again" (Hosseini 2). In other words, Amir may yet make up for failing Hassan while the latter was raped and while he needed a friend. The notion of atonement for Amir's wrongs becomes a powerful force throughout the novel.
  • Sohrab's Suicide Attempt

    After Amir grimly announces that Sohrab will have to go back to an orphanage for a little while, Sohrab, traumatized by the last orphanage and "tired of everything" (Hosseini 354), slits his wrists in the bathtub in the hope of dying. He is depressed by his inability to return to his old life, in which his father and mother were still alive, and deeply hurt by Amir's betrayal. As such, he is challenged to trust, feel, and muster willpower—he's too worn down.
  • Amir Confronts Assef

    Assef, a member of the Taliban using Sohrab as a sex slave, proposes a fistfight with Amir over Sohrab's freedom. He insists the latter stay too, because "lessons are good things for boys" (Hosseini 287). This callous and satirical statement highlights his enjoyment of cruelty. And combined with the premise of the fight, it also reveals the grandness of his ego.
  • Sohrab Defends Amir from Assef

    Assef beats Amir viciously and Sohrab, unable to stand it, threatens Assef with a slingshot. Once Assef lunges for Sohrab instead, Sohrab lets the stone fly and "Assef... put[s] his hand where his left eye had been just a moment ago" (Hosseini 291). Here, Sohrab, usually submissive, rises to protect Assef from his tormentor and damages the Talib's left eye. This act of bravery is not only similar to an altercation in Amir's youth, but inextricably intertwined.
  • Amir Runs a Kite for Sohrab

    Towards the close of the novel, Amir, in a San Francisco park with his family, excitedly offers to run a green kite for Sohrab, adding, "For you a thousand times over" (Hosseini 371). This heartwarming declaration of loyalty brightens Sohrab and Amir alike. And with it, Hassan's bittersweet promise echoes through the years.
  • Amir Hides Money in Wahid's Home

    Amir Hides Money in Wahid's Home
    Wahid, Farid's brother, hosts Amir in his home during Amir's journey to find Sohrab. He is fed and boarded comfortably enough, but before Amir leaves he realizes the generous family will go hungry. So "[Amir] plant[s] a fistful of crumpled money under a mattress" (Hosseini 242). In this instance, Amir leaves cash where Wahid will find it. He did so in his youth to frame Hassan, albeit less honorably, and the repetition now reflects his pursuit of redemption.
  • Rahim Khan Tells Amir he has a Brother

    Amir, at Rahim Khan's request, visits his old friend in Afghanistan, where the dying man discloses that Hassan and Amir were half-brothers, both sons of Baba. Angered, Amir roars, "How could you hide this from me? From him?" (Hosseini 223). Amir is visibly shaken by this news, which changes his perception of Baba—holy, untouchable—and Hassan—a Hazara, a servant. It pains him to think that he hurt a man who was his brother.
  • Attack on the World Trade Center (9/11)

    Attack on the World Trade Center (9/11)
    The terrorist group Al Qaeda flies hijacked commercial planes into the World Trade Center, a mass killing that prompts then President Bush to address an "ultimatum" to the Taliban: turn in bin Laden, or risk a US offensive (New York Times). The Taliban rejects the deal.
  • The US at War

    In 2001, The United States launches a military campaign against the Taliban, forcing them from Afghan cities with the assistance of rebel groups; "remnants of Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership [retreat] to Tora Bora in the mountains along the Pakistan border and eventually [escape] after a battle there, primarily involving Afghan forces allied with the United States" (New York Times).
  • Hamid Karzai Made Temporary Leader of Afghanistan

    In 2001, following the American crusade in Afghanistan, "Hamid Karzai, a supporter and relative of... the exiled former king of Afghanistan, [is] named chairman of an interim government" (New York Times).
  • Karzai Elected President

    Karzai Elected President
    Installed as interim president in the summer of 2002, Hamid Karzai begins his five-year term as president in 2004. But Afghanistan's troubles are far from over; he is accused of a "manifest lack of economic progress" and widespread corruption (New York Times).