Essential Passages by Character: Amir
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 7
I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. Something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked, saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles. I realized something else. I was weeping. From just around the corner, I could hear Assef’s quick, rhythmic grunts.
I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan—the way he’d stepped up for me all those times in the past—and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run.
In the end, I ran.
I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. That’s what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley, to Hassan. That’s what I made myself believe. I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price? The answer floated to my conscious mind before I could thwart it: He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?
Amir has just emerged victorious in the kite-flying tournament, having sawn through the string of the last remaining kite and thus freeing it to fly free. Hassan, the son of his father’s servant and also his friend, was the best kite runner in Kabul, chasing down the free-flying kites. Hassan had run off to find this kite that was a symbol of Amir’s victory, a victory that Amir hoped would bring some measure of pride to his father, Baba, for his only son. Amir, running to find Hassan, comes across his friend cornered in an alley by three bullies. Assef, whose mother was German and who had a keen fascination for Adolph Hitler, has demanded that Hassan give him the kite. Hassan refuses because he has promised it for Amir. Assef then agrees that Hassan should keep the kite so that it will remind him of what is about to happen to him. With his two friends holding Hassan down, Assef rapes Hassan. Amir is hiding, observing the rape take place. Too afraid to interfere and protect his friend, all he does is stand and watch. Overcome with fear and guilt, Amir runs, leaving Hassan in the hands of the bullies. This is a...
(The entire section is 1762 words.)
Essential Passages by Theme: Friendship
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 7
Then I was screaming, and everything was color and sound, everything was alive and good. I was throwing my free arm around Hassan and we were hopping up and down, both of us laughing, both of us weeping. “You won, Amir agha! You won!”
“We won! We won!” was all I could say. This wasn’t happening. In a moment, I’d blink and rouse from this beautiful dream, get out of bed, march down to the kitchen to eat breakfast with no one to talk to but Hassan. Get dressed. Wait for Baba. Give up. Back to my old life. Then I saw Baba on our roof. He was standing on the edge, pumping both of his fists. Hollering and clapping. And that right there was the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last.
But he was doing something now, motioning with his hands in an urgent way. Then I understood. “Hassan, we—.”
“I know,” he said, breaking our embrace. “Inshallah, we’ll celebrate later. Right now I’m going to run that blue kite for you,” he said. He dropped the spool and took off running, the hem of his green chapan dragging in the snow behind him.
“Hassan!” I called. “Come back with it!”
He was already turning the street corner, his rubber boots kicking up snow. He stopped, turned. He cupped his hands around his mouth. “For you a thousand times over!” he said. Then he smiled his Hassan smile and disappeared around the corner. The next time I saw him smile unabashedly like that was twenty-six years later, in a faded Polaroid photograph.
Amir has become one of the best kite flyers in Kabul. Throughout the winter months, when there is no school, Amir participates in the kite flying contests. The purpose of these contests is to have the last surviving kite in the air, after having sawn through the strings of the other kites. Hassan, as a kite runner, chases the free-flying kites. Whoever finds these kites gets to keep them as a trophy. In this tournament, Amir at last emerges victorious, to the pleasure of himself, Hassan, and especially his father, Baba. Earning his father’s pride has immeasurable effects on Amir, for this is something he has long been seeking. Although often jealous of his father’s obvious love for...
(The entire section is 1945 words.)