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What does the symbolism of Hassan's slingshot bring to The Kite Runner?I am doing a...

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hollysoo | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 15, 2010 at 3:58 PM via web

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What does the symbolism of Hassan's slingshot bring to The Kite Runner?

I am doing a paper and part of it is symbolizim. I have chossen to write about the sling shot that Amir has given to Hassan.

The sling shot that Amir gives Hassan is symbolic in that it represents bravery within 2 generations. When Amir and Hassan are boys Amir is pysically threatened by Assef. Hassan then raises his slingshot and gives Assef 2 options, either walk away or lose his eye. Assef decides to walk away. Later in Amir's adulthood he once again faces assef. He is forced to fight Assef in order to bring Hassan's son Sorab to America. As Assef severly beats Amir, Sorab raises his the very slingshot Hassan had so many years prior and shoots Assef in the eye.

What does this element of symbolisim add to the novel?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:23 AM (Answer #1)

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Hassan's slingshot is significant in a couple of ways.  First, Amir discusses the slingshot in reference to his and Hassan's pelting animals with it.  They sit in a tree and aim their "weapons" at unsuspecting creatures below.  In this early scene from the book, the slingshot demonstrates Amir's control over Hassan.  Hassan is normally a kind, gentle soul, but when Amir suggests that Hassan do something, Hassan often complies.  So, even though Hassan thinks of his slingshot as a toy and a skill that he can develop, Amir holds enough power over Hassan to cause him to use the slingshot for whatever he wills.

Secondly, the slingshot is Hassan's defense against Assef.  Although Assef tries to act as if he is unafraid of anything or anyone, Hassan is able to ward off the bully and his crew when he and Amir run into them.  Later, of course, Hassan's son Sohrab uses his slingshot to injure Assef so that he and Amir can escape. In both incidents, a David-and-Goliath battle occurs.  Assef is big for his age in the early scene and still outsizes Amir and Sohrab near the novel's end.  But even Assef's giant-like bullying cannot stop a small boy with a slingshot.  In this aspect, the slingshot empowers the underdog, whether it be Hassan or Sohrab, and advances one of the themes of the novel--the triumph of the underdog (whether it be Baba excelling at business when everyone thought he would fail, or Amir becoming a successful writer, or a small boy conquering a sociopath).

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