What is the role of justice in Sohrab and Rostam, and who might Sohrab represent metaphorically in The Kite Runner?  

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The story of Rostam and Sohrab is a part of the Persian epic Shahnameh. While visiting the kingdom of Samangan, the Persian hero Rostam fell in love with the Princess Tahmina and married her. He soon left Samangan, never to return. Shortly after, Tahmina gave birth to a son, and she named him Sohrab. Rostam's legend grew even further, while the younger Sohrab became the most feared fighter in the army of Turan. When the two nations went to war, it was decided that the two greatest warriors would wrestle each other, but no one was willing to fight Rostam. Sohrab, who knew that Rostam was his father, was nonetheless selected to face his father in single combat. Rostam, unaware that Sohrab was his son, eventually grew weak and, to save face, stabbed Sohrab in the heart just as Tahmina rushed to the battlefield to prevent them from fighting one another. Tahmina reveals that the dying Sohrab is Rostam's son, and Sohrab dies in his grief-stricken father's arms.

There are many parallels between the two stories. Playing as boys, Amir always took the part of the privileged Rostam; Hassan plays Sohrab, the stronger of the two warriors (as is Hassan in comparison with Amir). Like Rostam, Amir eventually deserts Hassan and leaves his homeland; and like Rostam, Amir does not realize that Hassan is related to him. Rostam's killing of Sohrab is symbolically realized when Amir fails to assist Hassan when he is gang-raped. Like Sohrab, who refuses to identify himself to his father, Hassan refuses to identify Amir as the true culprit of the crime of which he is accused (the theft of Amir's birthday gifts). Hassan identifies with Sohrab and the romantic ideal that his mother would be willing to give up her hero husband and remain with her son; Hassan's own mother, Sanuabar, had deserted him. So, just as he had played the lowlier but stronger Sohrab as a youth, Hassan metaphorically represents his childhood hero, Sohrab.


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