Comment on the symbolism of The Kite Runner.

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One of the key symbols in this novel, as the title suggests, is the kite. This important symbol is used to represent both Amir's guilt and happiness. Initially, it is a very important way for him to connect with Baba, as Baba himself was a champion kite flyer, and Amir's success in the kite flying competitions allows him, albeit briefly, to bond with Baba and gain his approval. However, at the same time, the kite's symbolic significance alters when Amir sacrifices his friend, Hassan, to Assef's physical and sexual abuse in order to gain the kite for his father. The kite becomes a symbol that is fraught with massive guilt and the consequences of inaction. It is only at the end of the novel, when Amir is with Hassan's son, Sohrab, that the kite's symbolic significance is changed. Note that this is only because Amir has managed to redeem himself through his trip to Afghanistan, his confrontation with Assef and his rescue of Sohrab. At the end of the novel, kite flying becomes an important way that Amir is able to reach out to Sohrab and break through his isolation:

Next to me, Sohrab was breathing rapidly through his nose. The spool rolled in his palms, the tendons in his scarred wrists like rubab strings. Then I blinked and, for just a moment, the hands holding the spool were the chipped-nailed, calloused hands of a harelipped boy.

Just as the kite was a symbol of connection with Baba for Amir as a child, at the end of this novel, the kite returns to be a symbol of connection between Amir and Sohrab. Amir's memory of flying kites with Hassan both reinforces the redeemed signifiance of the symbol of the kite and also foreshadows a more hopeful ending, as it suggests that Sohrab will enjoy the same kind of relationship with Amir as his father once enjoyed.

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