In The Kite Runner, what is the significance of Baba's new job in the gas station?

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Chapter Eleven is where the new job Baba finds in America is described, and its significance is explored. There is an intense irony as Baba and Amir move to the United States. In Afghanistan, Baba essentially was king and Amir was always left feeling isolated and estranged. In the US, the opposite occurs, as Baba is left to flounder whilst his son soars up into the sky, rejoicing in the opportunities that America gives him to forget his past and chart his own life. Note the following quote and how it describes Baba:

I glanced at him across the table, his nails chipped and black with engine oil, his knuckles scraped, the smells of the gas station--dust, sweat, and gasoline--on his clothes. Baba was like the widower who remarries but can't let go of his dead wife.

Baba in America is a curiously diminished figure compared to the larger-than-life individual the reader is presented with in the earlier chapters in Afghanistan. The job he gets at the gas station is symbolic of this change of status. In Afghanistan, Baba was an important man who would never dream of having to do such manual labour. In the US, he is forced to get a job that places him at the bottom of the heap, and he is diminished as a result.

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The Kite Runner

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