The Kite Runner Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

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What happened to Hassan's mother, Sanaubar, in The Kite Runner?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Sanaubar was known as a promiscuous woman and was ashamed to have Ali as her husband. Sanaubar had eloped with a band of singers and dancers in 1964 and left behind her husband and newborn infant, Hassan.

As an adult, Amir leaves America to visit Rahim Khan, who tells him that he is dying and has a way for him "to be good again." During their long, enlightening conversation, Rahim Khan explains that Hassan had a son named Sohrab and recalls the time that Hassan's mother, Sanaubar, returned to Baba's home looking for her son. Initially, Rahim Khan and Hassan did not recognize Sanaubar because she was decrepit and old. Sanaubar was toothless and had suffered numerous stab wounds to the face. Rahim Khan tells Amir that she looked grotesque and had a severe gash over one of her eyes. After telling Hassan that she was his mother, he initially ran away. When he returned the next morning, he forgave Sanaubar for abandoning him as a child and proceeded to take care of her. Sanaubar developed into a loving grandmother and eventually repaired her relationship with her son.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Through an arranged marriage, Hassan's father, Ali, married his first-cousin, Sanaubar--a woman with a notorious reputation who was 19 years younger than her husband. While Ali was crippled with polio and stricken with a terrible limp, Sanaubar was renowned for her beauty. Her

... brilliant green eyes and impish face had, rumor has it, tempted countless men into sin... Sanaubar's suggestive stride and oscillating hips sent men to reveries of infidelity.

Like her husband, Sanaubar was a Hazara and Shi'a Muslim; but unlike Ali, "who had memorized the Koran," Sanaubar's primary interests were neither motherly nor religious. When she saw that her newborn son, Hassan, had a cleft lip, she refused to take him in her arms. Five days later, she was gone, running off

... with a clan of traveling singers and dancers.

Sanaubar would return to Baba's house long after he and Amir had left for America. She had lost her beauty but had gained a desire to finally get to know her son--and grandson, Sohrab.

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