In "Kite Runner", what is the significance of the irony in the first story of Amir?After hearing Amir's story, Hassan asks, "Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever...

In "Kite Runner", what is the significance of the irony in the first story of Amir?

After hearing Amir's story, Hassan asks, "Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn't he have just smelled an onion?" How is his reaction to the story a metaphor for Amir's life? How does this story epitomize the difference in character between Hassan and Amir?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The irony in the story is that, in order to satisfy his own greed, the man destroys that which he realizes too late is most dear to him.  It is significant because it is a metaphor for Amir's own life in that, in his desperate longing for his father's love, Amir effectively destroys the safe and comfortable life of Hassan along with their relationship with each other, never realizing the great value of the friendship they share.  A further irony is that both Amir and his fictional character could have easily gotten what they wanted without paying anywhere near such a drastic price.

Amir's story illustrates major differences in Hassan's and Amir's characters.  Hassan has a clear vision of things, picking up immediately the fact that the man could have found a more practical way of achieving his goals.  Amir makes everything more complicated for himself; the possibility perceived by Hassan never occurs to him, even though it is "so obvious it (is) utterly stupid".  The story also points out a basic difference between the two boys' perception of human nature.  Hassan, even though he is constantly victimized because of his nationality, has a trusting spirit and cannot conceive of any reason why the man would have wanted to kill his wife, while Amir is more in touch with the darker side of human nature because it is so active in his own character (Chapter 4).

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amir's first short story is about a poor man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup his tears would turn into pearls. Since the poor man was always happy, he had to find ways to make himself sad so that his tears would make him rich. The story ends with the man weeping over his slain wife's body as his cup overflows with pearls. The irony in Amir's short story is that the poor man sacrificed his happiness for material wealth, which was supposed to bring him joy but did not. After hearing the story, Hassan immediately identifies the plot hole and asks Amir why the man would not simply smell an onion to make himself cry. Hassan's perspective of the story illustrates his innocence and optimistic outlook on life. The thought of harming another person for personal gain would never cross Hassan's mind. In contrast, Amir is more selfish and would consider harming another individual for personal gain.

Amir's story can be metaphorically applied to his own life. For Amir to gain his father's affection, he neglects Hassan's friendship, which is very dear to him. Amir unnecessarily suffers and makes the situation worse by not addressing the situation with Assef. Rather than expressing his true feelings, Amir selfishly ruins his relationship with his best friend, which leaves him miserable and depressed, much like the man in his short story.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The irony in the first story demonstrates the inherent differences between Hassan and Amir. Responses by Hassan after the story show that he is introspective and manages to read between the lines. He makes well-thought-out observations, and Amir learns something from Hassan despite his low opinion of him. Although Hassan does not know how to read and write, he points out an obvious flaw in the story, and Amir takes the comments negatively.

His reaction is a metaphor for Amir’s life because, although the events concerning the poor man in the story can be compared to Amir's life, the two are not the same. Hassan suggests that there were simpler methods available to the man, but he chose the most drastic method to achieve his objectives. Although the option to use an onion was not available to Amir, he could have achieved his objectives without causing harm to Hassan and, by extension, to Ali and his own father.

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The Kite Runner

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