The main characters of the story, Baba and Amir, are Pashtuns, the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan. While Hassan and his father, Ali, are Hazaras, a minority group and the most persecuted ethnic people of Afghanistan. Although Baba has grown up with Ali and does not feel a hatred for the Hazaras, other Pashtuns in the novel, particularly Assef and his Taliban kindred, believe that the Hazaras are only fit for extermination. The first hint of this transition occurs when Amir and Hassan have an encounter with a violent older boy Assef, who wants to persecute Hassan for being a Hazara.
Assef, who believes Hitler was an ideal leader, tells Amir that he is betraying his Pashtun heritage by treating a Hazara boy as his close friend. While Assefs bigotry outrages Amir, who is unable to think of a response. Ultimately, Hassan stands up to Assef and his lackeys; when Assef and his lackeys threaten to hurt the two younger boys, it is Hassan, not Amir, who saves them both by using his slingshot to drive the bullies away. Amir and Hassan characterize the difference between the haves and the have-nots in society. Hassan is the have-not is the Afghan society.
His family has no social status, he lives in a mud hut and work as a servant along with his father in Babas household. Hassan faces life head on and deals with it. He has the faith to show him the way. Hassan and Ali practice their religion a lot, unlike Baba who smokes and drinks a lot. The Hazaras seem to rely on their religion a lot because it is the only aspect in their lives that they have some control over. The difference in Religion of the Pashtuns and Hazaras are two different branches of Islam, which is one of the reasons for the conflict with one another.
Amir, on the other hand, questions life, himself, his father, and even his loyal friend. His existence is constant turmoil and unhappiness. Amir has everything such as a house, education, books and possessions. What he does not truly have is his fathers attention and faith in religion. Amirs quest to redeem himself makes up the heart of the novel. Early on, Amir strives to redeem himself in Babas eyes, primarily because his mother died giving birth to him, and he feels responsible.
To redeem himself to Baba, Amir thinks he must win the kite-tournament and bring Baba the losing kites, both which are inciting incidents that set the rest of the novel in motion. The more substantial part of Amirs search for redemption, however, stems from his guilt regarding Hassan. Amirs selfish ways were a result of the lack of his fathers affection in his life. As a young boy, he was forced to deal with his fathers disinterest in him, which made him incredibly jealous of Hassan.
As the tension increases between Amir and Hassan, Amir can no longer stand to see Hassan every day because he could not stand seeing his father showing Hassan love and not him. Amir places his watch under Hassans pillow and accuses him of stealing it. Hassan did not even deny the accusations because he had figured out what Amir was doing. Hassan knew. He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time. (pg. 111) His entire life is shaped by the moments of his past and Amir cannot move forward.
That guilt derives the climactic events of the story, including Amirs journey to Kabul to find Sohrab and his confrontation with Assef. Babas words still echo through Amirs head, A boy who doesnt stand up for himself becomes a man who cant stand up to anything. (pg 24) As a boy, Amir falls to stands up for himself. As an adult, he can only redeem himself by proving he has the courage to stand up for what is right. From the moment he chose to turn his back on Hassan, there were many chances where Theres a ways to be good again (pg. 238) for all his wrongdoings, but he chose not to take any of these.
Sohrab was his last and only chance for redemption. Betrayal is enduring and ends up being cyclical in The Kite Runner. For most of the novel, Amir attempts to deal with his guilt by avoiding it, but doing this clearly does nothing toward redeeming himself and thus his guilt endures. That is why he still cringes every time Hassans name is mentioned. When Amir finds out about Babas betrayal of Ali, and subsequent betrayal of Hassan, he realizes that everything he thought he knew and understood about his father was false. But Baba has been dead for fifteen years, and there is nothing he can do about the situation.
Neither feelings of betrayal nor punishment are enough to redeem Amir. He admits that he cost Hassan a chance at a good life and that he had many opportunities to change the outcome of Hassans life. Although at this moment he realized he could lose everything he has built in America, Amir did not care only about himself. He came to terms with what he had done, and he was ready to redeem himself at any cost. Only when he decides to take Sohrab to the United Stated and provide his nephew a chance at happiness and prosperity that was denied to his half-brother does Amir take the necessary steps toward atonement and redemption.
The Taliban plays a key role in The Kite Runner because of the novel being set in Afghanistan. The main antagonist, Assef, even ended up as a leader of the Taliban Army. The Taliban ruled large portions of Afghanistan beginning in 1996 and coming to an end in 2001, and was even diplomatic recognition from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Taliban surfaced the Soviey Afghan War and was a major influence throughout the novel to the life of Amir and Hassan. This is mainly a result of Assef and his Taliban soldiers as they continuously attach and trouble Ami and those who are close to him.
As Amir grew throughout the story, he was constantly manipulated by the Taliban and more specifically, Assef. Even before Assef joined the Taliban, he directly attacked Amir by raping Hassan. Later on when Assef and hi Taliban soldiers raid Babas old house and kill Hassan and his wife, Amir is inspired to do good and eventually finds Assefs Taliban group who is holding Hassans son, Sohrab. This time, instead of watching and standing by, Amir acts and protects Sohrab from the same attack that his father had received those many years ago. Because of the emergence of the Taliban throughout the story, Amirs life is changed forever.
However he does not let thestrife and struggle ruin him, instead he is able to turn from the misery of Hassans rape and death, learn from it, and eventually save Sohrab in the long run. Hosseinis use of symbolism and figurative language shows the reader that Afghanistan is broken but could be saved by the next generations dreams and his generations memories of the past before the Taliban. This is shown through Amirs dream. His dream symbolized how Afghanistan has turned a blind eye to the rape of Hazaras in their society. Hosseini shows the physical consequences of not stepping in, A havoc of scrap and rubble littered the alley.
Worn bicycle tires, bottles with peeled labels, ripped up magazines, yellowed newspapers, all scattered amid a pile of bricks and slabs of cement (pg. 75) Afghanistan looks like the aftermath of a war. The emotional damage is shown as well, there were two things amid the garbage that I couldnt stop looking at: One was the blue kite resting against the wall, close to the cast-iron; the other was Hassans brown corduroy pants thrown on a heap of eroded bricks (pg75) The kite and the pants symbolize the separation of not just Amir and Hassan, but Afghanistan as a whole.
Afghanistan needs to help their brothers and put their own ambitions aside, something Amir was unable to do. If Amir stepped in, then his dream might have come true. The kites symbolized the Afghan past-time of kite racing and how Afghanistan should be fighting each other. Throughout the book we learn many of the inner feelings Amir has, and how they change throughout his life, whether it is regarding his father, Hassan or himself. Perhaps many of these feelings can relate to some of the readers own lives at some stages.
This makes the novel intriguing and gives the readers an understanding of how human lives can be weakened by lack of love and support. Some can see through the insight into Amirs thought and feeling that hurt people often do end up hurting people themselves. Also, The Kite Runner is an epic story with a personal history of what the people of Afghanistan had and have endured in an ordinary everyday life; a country that is divided between political powers and religiously idealistic views and beliefs which creates poverty, and violence within the people and their terrorist run country.