Kite Runner & the History of Afghanistan

  • Hassan's Gift

    As a gift for Hassan's birthday, Baba arranges a surgery to remove his harelip. Baba explains, "'It's an unusual present, I know, [but] this present will last you forever'" (Hosseini 46). This event creates a strand of jealousy between Amir and Hassan over Baba's attention, one which helps to slowly tear their relationship apart. Also, what appears to be a whole-hearted gift provides evidence of Baba's relationship to Hassan which is not revealed for many years.
  • A Torn Relationship

    In what Amir considers as "the winter that Hassan stopped smiling" (Hosseini 47), the relationship between Amir and Hassan begins on a downward spiral. After Assef bullies and rapes Hassan, Amir realizes that he no longer has power over his deathly loyal servant. Instead, Amir tries to isolate himself from his problems, eventually leading to a broken bond that is never fully repaired.
  • Amir's Huge Birthday Party

    Amir's party is a catalyst to Hassan's and Ali's leaving. One key scene is where Hassan serves drinks to Assef and "The light winked out, a hiss and a crackle, then another flicker of orange light: Assef grinning, kneading Hassan in the chest with a knuckle" (Hosseini 100). After allowing Assef to violate Hassan, this act of abuse shows the fissures in the already torn relationship of Hassan and Amir, reinforcing his decision to leave. Also, Amir loses power of Hassan's loyalty after this event.
  • Soviets Invade Afghanistan

    Soviets Invade Afghanistan
    The Soviet military, hungry for more territory to conquer in order to spread their Communist beliefs, "parachuted into Kabul [to] assist Babrak Karmal,who had become president in a coup within the Afghan Communist leadership" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 2). This started a bloody and violent war which lasts for more than nine years.
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    The Soviet Invasion

  • A New Experience

    While being smuggled out of Afghanistan in a fuel truck, Amir experiences a lifestyle that he has never encountered before, calling it "Panic. You open your mouth. Open it so wide your jaws creak. You order your lungs to draw air, [b]ut they collapse" (Hosseini 121). Hassan's experience with the poorer majority of Afghanistan makes him realize the danger they have to experience. By sympathizing with these people firsthand, Amir learns how to be more tolerant of the poor.
  • Coming to America

    After Baba comes to America, he remarks, "'[President Carter] is not fit to run this country. It's like putting a boy who can't ride a bike benind the wheel of a brand-new Cadillac.' Most of our neighbors in Freemont were [the middle class] and [Baba was] the lone Republican in our building" (Hosseini 126). Baba's views on American government are influenced by his time under the monarchy in Afghanistan, showing that he recalls the past. Baba also shows his rebellious attitude though politics.
  • The Visit to the Bookstore

    Baba does not react well to being in the middle class, being angered when asked to show his I.D. and growling "'[For] almost two years we've bought these damn fruits [and] the son of a dog wants to see my license!'" (Hosseini 127). Baba's residence in the working class of America is very different from the life he lived in Afghanistan and therefore he longs for his old life. This unique contrast between Baba's loss of power and Amir's acceptance of its loss creates a crucial theme in the novel.
  • Amir and Soraya Marry

    After nearly a year of longing, Amir marries the love of his life, Soraya, Soraya's father General Taheri commenting, "'Your pain will be our pain, your joy our joy. [You] have both our blessings" After many years of longing for acceptance from Baba, Amir finds it in the form of Soraya. In addition, the traditional style of the wedding represents the natural human tendency to preserve one's culture, despite all that the characters have done to forget their past.
  • Baba's Death

    Baba loses his battle with lung cancer and eventually says, "'there is no pain tonight.' [W]e closed the door. Baba never woke up" (Hoseini 173). Baba's death represents a change in Amir's freedom of decisions, leading to choices that both help and harm Amir. In addition Baba's death later contributes to the central theme of atoning for one's sins in the novel, as Baba left many shameful acts with his guilt that Amir must attone for.
  • United States Provides Aid

    When the war between the Soviets and Afghans continued, the United States decided to "[Supply antiaircraft missles] to the rebels, [rendering] the Soviet army largely useless" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 2). However, the war would not end for another 3 years.
  • Success and Failure

    Despite Amir publishing his first novel, Soraya and Amir are unable to conceive a baby, which leads Amir to conclude, "perhaps something, someone, somewhere, had decided to deny me fatherhood for the things I had done" (Hosseini 188). Amir's continual guilt of sins he did in the past leads him to absurd explanations of events. The crucial theme of atoning for sins also leads the characters on journeys of redemption and tests of character later in the novel.
  • The War Ends

    The War Ends
    The Soviets finally left Afghanistan "after peace talks moderated by the United Nations" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 2), but the damage had already been done. The once economically prosperous and non-religous country had turned into one rife with corruption, civil war, and extremism.
  • The Uprising Begins

    The Uprising Begins
    Mullah Omar, founder of the Taliban group, stressed a need to purify and restore Afghanistan. His ideas were popular "in a country weary of corruption and brutality, [and he] had nearly 12,000 followers [by the end of the year]" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 2).
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    The Taliban Takeover

  • The Taliban Overtake Afghanistan

    The Taliban Overtake Afghanistan
    The increasing popularity of the Taliban led them to override the established Afghan government, "[b]uoyed by Pakistani aid" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 3). Having supreme control of the entire country encouraged the Taliban to make many poor decisions later in their regime.
  • The Taliban Support Al Qaeda

    The Taliban Support Al Qaeda
    The Taliban enforced strict laws, such as forcing women out of work, banning movies, and making music unavailible to the general public. They also "provided a haven for Mr. [Osama] Bin Laden, who arrived by chartered jet [for] Al Qaeda" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 3). The Taliban were criticized for their methods, but their regime continued despite being worldwide outcasts.
  • Leaving for Afghanistan

    After receiving a call from Rahim Khan, Amir decides to leave for Afghanistan after Rahim Khan tells him that "'there is a way to be good again'" (Hosseini 192). Rahim Khan's statement reveals his knowledge of Hassan's rape to Amir, hence Amir's decision to return to Afghanistan. The concept of atonement continues to be an important theme in the novel, one that influences the characters' decisions and ideals.
  • Rahim Khan's Story

    After arriving in Afghanistan, Amir visits Rahim Khan, who tells him, "'Sanaubar wasn't Ali's first wife.' [I] could see where he was going. But I didn't want to hear [that Hassan was my half-brother]" (Hosseini 222). Because Amir never had an equal relationship with Hassan, he now cannot apologize to him for his negative actions. This feeling of guilt compels Amir to go to Afghanistan and find redemption for his actions.
  • Amir Confronts Assef

    After tracking down his nephew Sohrab, Amir eventually has to challenge Assef, a fight to which Asseff replies, "'[You] and I are ging to finish a bit of buisiness. No matter what you hear, don't come in!'" (Hosseini 287). Despite Amir taking part in a fight he cannot hope to win, he feels redeemed after standing up for his nephew, unlike abandoning Hassan years earlier. This event also creates a cruel irony that Amir must face the same opposition years after the initial incident.
  • Sohrab's Suicide Attempt

    After Amir tells his nephew Sohrab that he will not be able to return to America soon, Amir recalls, "Suddenly I was on my knees, screaming. [Later], they said I was still screaming when the ambulance arrived" (Hosseini 343). After feeling that he had cancelled out his mistakes earlier in his life, he feels fresh guilt for being responsible for Sohrab's suicide attempt. Amir is also one of the many charcaters that tries to eliminate the past, but like the scars on Sohrab's arms, cannot undo it.
  • The 9/11 Attacks

    The 9/11 Attacks
    On one of the most infamous days in Unites States history, extremists from Al Qaeda hijacked four comercial flights and flew them into various buildings, including the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. The attacks provoked angry responses from other countries, and "President George W. Bush gave the Taliban an ultimatum to hand over Mr. Bin Laden" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 3). The Taliban refused, and the United States began its "War On Terror" in response.
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    The Taliban Resurgence

    After living in hiding and the United States' military operations focused on Iraq, the Taliban regrouped and began another rise to prominence. They were aided by "a resurgent opium trade, which helped to fill the group's coffers" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 3).
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    The Karzai Government

  • Kite Runners Again

    Nearly a year after their return to America, Sohrab and Amir go kite flying again, and Sohrab "was breathing rapidly through his nose. [One] corner of his mouth had curled up just so. A smile" (Hosseini 369-370). After a period of isolation, Sohrab finally sees happiness and hope in a face ravaged by war. This final passage also represents the prevalent bond of family that cannot completely heal problems, but can help create a hopeful life, one that Amir and Sohrab can live safely.
  • A New Era

    A New Era
    With the Taliban going into hiding after the 9/11 attacks and no governing body in place in Iraq, "Hamid Karzai, a supporter and relative of Muhammad Zahir Shah, the exiled former king of Afghanistan" ("Afghanistan - An Overview 3), was elcted president of the self-named Karzai government.
  • A Failing and Unpopular Administration

    After being elected to a five-year term as interim president, Mr. Karzai lost his popularity due to a nation that "blamed him for the manifest lack of economic progress and the corrupt officials who seem[ed] to stand at every doorway of his government" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 3).
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    Obama's Presidency

  • The General Is Brought In

    The General Is Brought In
    "General Petraues, the Iraq commander who received much of the credit for the success of the surge there, [took] charge of United States Central Command" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 4), hoping to resolve the conflicts in Afghanistan after they were left idle for the Iraq campaign. He hired general Stanley A. McChystal, who was later removed from the administration after scornful quotes about senior administrators.
  • Obama Makes A Promise

    Obama Makes A Promise
    In a speech he delievered on this day, "Mr. Obama announced his plan to deploy 30,000 additional troops" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 4) to quickly end the conflict in Afghanistan. He vowed to begin military removal in mid-2011.
  • The Hopeful End of Afghanistan

    The Hopeful End of Afghanistan
    Ever since the Obama administration failed to deliver its promise in 2011, "[they have emphasized] the idea that the United States will have forces in the country until at least 2014" ("Afghanistan - An Overview" 4). Hopefully this deadline will be met so the United States can focus on internal improvements rathern than foreign relations.