How are The Thorn Birds and The Kite Runner similar and different to each other?

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Both The Kite Runner and The Thorn Birds are novels with sweeping plots and many intrigues, but they rest essentially on the same theme: Family. Most of the similarities between the two texts revolve around that theme. In the treatment of it, of course, you will find numerous differences, from the setting to the twists of plot. Below are some ideas on significant similarities and differences that may help guide your thinking.


  • A secret of parentage. In The Kite Runner, it is Hassan sharing the same father with Amir. In The Thorn Birds, it is Dane's father being the Catholic priest Ralp de Bricassart.
  • The tragic death of a beloved character. Hassan and Dane, respectively.
  • The story spans a lifetime, from childhood to adulthood. This narrative follows Meggie Cleary in The Thorn Birds, chronicling her loves, losses, choices, and secrets. The Kite Runner tells the life story of Amir in a similar way.


  • The emotions upon the story's end. The Kite Runner, despite its many tragic events, ends with the possibility of happiness in the boy's smile. The Thorn Birds leaves us feeling more down, as many of the characters' stories ended in death. Only the possibility of Justine's future happiness saves it from melodrama.
  • Secrets come out in different ways. Amir does not learn of Hassan's parentage, or his child, until he is called out of the blue by an old family friend. Meggie, however, reveals the secret herself. In both cases, it is too late to save Dane or Hassan.
Last Reviewed by eNotes Editorial on January 29, 2020
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