Discuss your thoughts about the rape scene in The Kite Runner.Discuss your thoughts about the rape scene in The Kite Runner.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that you will get different impressions of this critical moment in the narrative.  I would think that the general sense of abhorrence and repulsion will be articulated.  I think that there are a couple of notes of distinction that I feel are important in this chapter.  The rape of Hassan by Assef is critical because it shows how rape is about power.  Assef and his friends sodomize Hassan because they wish to assert power over someone who is deemed socially inferior and someone who they perceive to be a threat to their power.  Additionally, the idea that Amir watches the rape and fails to do anything brings out a critical theme in the novel which is the need to take action.  In his speech, "The Perils of Indifference," noted thinker and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel points out that there are three groups of people:  The abused, the abuser, and the bystanders who watch and do nothing.  In the rape scene, all three are present.  Amir is the one who does nothing, watching while his friend is violated in the worst of ways.  When the opening of the book has the cryptic message from Rahim Khan that stresses the need "to become good again," it is this moment, when Amir fails to take action, that forms the crux of the power of human redemption.  It is the rape scene that provides the instant where this fundamental need to take action, to be better than most, and to confront the worst aspects of human beings are all evident.  In my mind, I would also say that the rape scene is so important because it shows the function of the world.  While Amir is so happy at having won the competition and pleased with his father's embrace, consciousness in the world moves on so that someone else is raped in an alley.  This dynamic of joy and suffering is present in this scene, with the elation of one person being immediately contrasted with the horrific suffering of another.

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