Kite Runner and the History of Afghanistan

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  • Afghanistan allies with the USSR

    Afghanistan allies with the USSR
    The leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, "agrees to help Afghanistan, and the two countries become close allies" (PBS).
  • Period: to

    Amir's Life to Present Day (in The Kite Runner)

  • Amir is Born

    Amir is Born
    Amir reminisces about his past, and states that his "first word [was] Baba" (11). This quote demonstrates that Baba is extremely important to Amir, and that he is the one that he will most care about in his childhood. This leads to him forfeiting his friendship with Hassan, a decision that plagues him with guilt throughout the book.
  • Hassan is Born

    Hassan is Born
    Hassan is born a year after Amir. Amir remembers that Hassan's first word "was Amir. my name" (11). Hassan shows that Amir is someone more important to him than anyone else, even his own father. This causes Hassan to save Amir from many dangerous situations in their youth, and eventually indirectly distances him from Amir.
  • The Formation of the Afghan Communist Party

    The Afghan Communist Party is started under the leadership of "Babrak Karmal and Nur Mohammad Taraki" (PBS).
  • The Beginning of the Republic of Afghanistan

    The Beginning of the Republic of Afghanistan
    Mohammed Daoud Khan overthrows the king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and gives himself the title of president of the newly established "Republic of Afghanistan [which] is established with firm ties with to the USSR" (PBS).
  • Hassan is Raped by Assef

    Hassan is Raped by Assef
    In the winter of 1975, Hassan runs a kite for Amir, who has won a kite running competition and the key to his father's pride. This leads to Hassan getting cornered and raped by Assef, as Amir "[runs, comparing Hassan to] a lamb [he] had to slay, to win Baba" (77). Amir's internal conflict with wanting to make Baba proud versus saving Hassan causes him to run away, unable to help Hassan. This leads to a lifetime's worth of guilt for Amir, which he desperately tries to atone for.
  • Hassan and Ali Leave Amir's Household

    Hassan and Ali Leave Amir's Household
    Amir frames Hassan and Ali for stealing in order to get them out of the house. Although Baba forgives them, they leave regardless, as Ali gives Amir a "cold, unforgiving look," and Amir states that he was glad for it, as he was "tired of pretending" (106). This shows that Amir is feeling immeasurable guilt for his actions, and has no one that he can share his burden with. This leads to him cutting his valuable ties with Hassan and Ali to ease his guilt.
  • The Death of Khan and a New Government

    Khan is killed by communists, and Nur takes his place as president, and appoints Babrak to the position of deputy prime minister. They announce independence from the communism, but still sign a treaty of alliance with the Soviets, and declare an intent to form a government "based on Islamic principles, Afghan nationalism and socioeconomic justice" (PBS).
  • The Underlying Conflicts

    The Underlying Conflicts
    A rivalry develops between Taraki and Hafizullah Amin, a communist leader, which leads to fighting between the Afghans and the Soviets, despite the treaty. In the meanwhile, "conservative Islamic and ethnic leaders who [disagreed with Khan's government] begin an armed revolt in the countryside... [A] guerilla movement [called] Mujahadeen is created to battle the Soviet backed government" (PBS).
  • Power Struggles

    After the death of their ambassador, the US stops aiding Afghanistan in their reform. Taraki and Amin struggle for power, and Taraki is killed by Amin's supporters. Then, "the USSR invades Afghanistan on Dec. 24 [and on] Dec. 27, Amin and many of his followers are executed... Karmal becomes prime minister [and widespread] opposition to Karmal and the Soviets spawns violent public demonstrations" (PBS)
  • Baba and Amir Move to America

    Baba and Amir Move to America
    As a result of Russian occupation, Amir and Baba discreetly move to America. This causes Amir to state that "America was a place to bury [his] memories" (129). This demonstrates how severely Amir was, and is still, impacted by his decision to not help Hassan in the winter of 1975. The guilt that Amir is trying to hide eventually resurfaces, and leads him on a quest for atonement in Afghanistan.
  • Refugees and a Shattered Country

    Around 4.3 million Afghans flee from the war to Iran and Pakistan. This is because of the constant tension in Afghanistan, as "Afghan guerrillas [have] control of rural areas, and Soviet troops hold urban areas" (PBS).
  • Amir Meets Soraya

    Amir Meets Soraya
    Amir meets the daughter of General Taheri, Soraya, in the Afghan flea market. He is immediately captivated by her, but when he asks his father about her background, he says that although she is a "decent girl, hardworking, and kind[, she was with a man once, which led to all sorts of trouble, which is why] no suitors have [sought her out]" (142). Soraya's good qualities are overlooked by Afghans because of a single mistake. This demonstrates the power of a culture's ethnics/values/morals.
  • Baba is Diagnosed with Cancer

    Baba is Diagnosed with Cancer
    Baba is diagnosed with cancer after doctors find a tumor in his lung, and refuses to take chemotherapy, as it would only be palliative. When Amir tries to change his mind, Baba fiercely replies, saying that "[he has] made [his decision, and that he [...] doesn't] want anybody's sympathy" (156). Baba is stubborn, and firmly sticks to his decision because of his values. This shows that Baba is always true to himself, and firmly believes in upholding his values and morals until the end.
  • Amir Marries Soraya

    Amir Marries Soraya
    After a request from his dying father, Amir gains Soraya's hand in marriage. At the wedding, General Taheri says that "this is the right-way - the Afghan way - to do it" (167). Although they are in America, Soraya's father is set on living the way he would in Afghanistan, as he believes strongly in the morals and values he has been raised with. This demonstrates how pervasive the morals and values of cultures is, no matter where you are.
  • Baba Passes Away in His Sleep

    Baba Passes Away in His Sleep
    Amir attends Baba's funeral, which is packed with people who knew him in some way, shape, or form. This causes him to understand that "how much of who [he] was, what [he] was, had been defined by Baba and the marks he had left on people's lives [...] [and that he] had to find [his path] on his own" (174). Amir realizes that Baba is an integral part of who he is and what he does, and is scared of a future without him. This demonstrates how impactful Amir's relationship with Baba was on his life.
  • The Beginning of Al-Qaida

    The Beginning of Al-Qaida
    Osama bin Laden and 15 other like minded individuals form the group Al-Qaida to wage a "holy war" on the faltering Soviets, but also "shift their focus to America, [believing that it] is the main obstacle to the establishment of a state based on Islam" (PBS).
  • Soviet Withdrawal and the Ongoing Fight

    The U.S, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Soviet Union make peace, and sign a treaty that guarantees "Afghan independence and the withdrawal of 100,000 Soviet troops" (PBS). The Mujahadeen continue their fight against the communist government led by president Dr. Mohammad Najibullah.
  • The Capture of Kabul

    The Mujahadeen, with the help of other groups united under Ahmad Shah Masood, capture the capital, Kabul, and end Najibullah's government. Then, as they begin to fall into pieces, as warlords begin to fight over land, the Mujahadeen "form a largely Islamic state with professor Burhannudin Rabbani as president" (PBS).
  • The Rise of the Taliban

    The Rise of the Taliban
    Remnants of former rebel group join and for a group calling themselves the Taliban, who's goal is to enforce traditional Islamic values. They do so through an excessive use of physical force, as they "public[ly execute] and [amputate violators of Islamic Law, causing] the United States [to refuse] to recognize the authority of the Taliban" (PBS).
  • The Struggle Against the Taliban

    The Struggle Against the Taliban
    The Taliban "publicly executes Najibullah," and "ethnic groups in the north, under Masood’s Northern Alliance, and the south[...] continue to battle the Taliban for control of the country" (PBS).
  • Sanctions Against Afghanistan

    Osama bin Laden is now "considered an international terrorist, [and] is widely believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, where he is cultivating thousands of followers in terrorist training camps" (PBS). This prompts the US to ask the Taliban for him so he can stand trial for his wrongdoing, but the Taliban refuse, so the UN puts many sanctions on Afghanistan to hurt their trade and economy.
  • Amir Recieves a Call from Rahim Khan

    Amir Recieves a Call from Rahim Khan
    Amir recieves a call from a dying Rahim Khan, who asks for him to visit him in Pakistan. Rahim Khan also convinces Amir to come by telling him that "There is a way to be good again" (192). Rahim Khan is really offering Amir a chance at redemption, which connects with the theme of atonement in the novel. This signals that the moment for Amir to atone for his sins is coming, and soon.
  • Rahim Khan Talks to Amir

    Rahim Khan Talks to Amir
    Rahim Khan reveals to Amir that Hassan was Baba's illegitimate son, and that he was killed by the Taliban, having left behind a son named Sohrab. Amir is shocked, and yells at Rahim Khan, saying "I've just found out my whole life is one [big] lie!" (223). Amir is terrified of the implications of this statement, and covers up his fear with anger. This shows how terribly Hassan's rape has affected Amir, constantly plaguing him with a sense of immense guilt.
  • Amir Travels to Peshawar

    Amir Travels to Peshawar
    After making up his mind, Amir decides to travel to Peshawar to save Sohrab. On the way, his driver, Farid, is rude to him, until he finds out that Amir is going back to Afghanistan for a righteous cause. He says "It was wrong of me to assume," but Amir says "Don't worry. You were more right than you know" (239). Amir partially agrees with Farid, and feels as though he deserves his disrespect. This demonstrates that even after all this time, Amir still feels guilt for how he abandoned Hassan.
  • Amir Fights Assef

    Amir Fights Assef
    Upon arriving at Peshawar, Amir finds that Assef is in possession of Sohrab. In order to save Sohrab, Amir finally fights Assef, and "[laughs as he is beaten savagely by Assef, because he] felt at peace" (289). Amir is greatly relieved that he is finally atoning for his sin, and laughs as he is freed from his guilt. This demonstrates how heavily his actions from his childhood has weighed on him, which has influenced his decisions up until now.
  • Sohrab Attempts Suicide

    Sohrab Attempts Suicide
    Sohrab is traumatized from the abuse that he suffered from Assef, and believes that an orphanage was the root cause of his suffering. This causes him to strongly resist being placed in an orphanage in order to go to America, yelling "Please! Please no! [...] They'll hurt me! I don't want to go!" (341). This shows the deep trauma that Sohrab suffers from because of his past that Amir fails to identify. This causes Sohrab to try killing himself, as he has lost all hope and will to live.
  • The Death of Masood

    The leader of the Northern Alliance, Masood, is "killed by assassins posing as journalists" (PBS).
  • 9/11

    Islamic terrorist take control of four commercial airplanes and "crash them into the World Trade Center Towers in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field, killing thousands" (PBS). The US later releases a statement that says that "[Osama] bin Laden, the Saudi exile believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, is the prime suspect in the attack" (PBS).
  • Amir Flies a Kite With Sohrab

    Amir Flies a Kite With Sohrab
    On the first day of spring, a couple months after bringing Sohrab to America, Amir flies a kite with the now despondent boy. While doing so, Amir sees "A smile [from Sohrab]. Lopsided. Hardly there. But there" (371). Sohrab finally feels a bit of joy when he flies a kite with Amir, and temporarily forgets about the crushing depression that he has daily. This shows that Sohrab is slowly healing from the events in Afghanistan, and may become the boy he once was.