In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan represent the divisions in Afghan society, and how do these divisions affect the courses their lives take?
Amir is a Pashtun, which is the ruling majority ethnic group in Afghanistan, while Hassan is an oppressed Hazara. Hazaras are a Shiite ethnic group living in the predominately Sunni country of Afghanistan. As a minority, Hazaras are persecuted and marginalized throughout Afghanistan and occupy a lower social class than Pashtuns. Despite being close friends and half-brothers, Amir and Hassan live drastically different lives throughout the novel. Amir has access to education and the finer things in life, while Hassan lives in poverty and is continually ridiculed by Pashtun citizens for being a Hazara. Also, Amir cannot openly express his affection for Hassan because of his society's standards and expectations. Socially, Hassan is below Amir and will never be considered his equal. This tension between the two characters is a great source of anxiety for Amir, who is critical of how he is perceived throughout society. Fortunately, Amir is able to flee Afghanistan and travel to America when the Russians invade. Amir's affluent Pashtun father has the resources to create a new life in America, while Hassan and Ali are forced to stay in Afghanistan. Hassan is eventually murdered by Taliban forces when they attempt to ethnically cleanse Afghanistan. Essentially, Amir is able to survive and live a fulfilling life because he is a wealthy Pashtun, while Hassan is unjustly murdered in the street because he is a poor Hazara.
Amir and Hassan characterize the difference between the haves and the have-nots in society. Amir has everything-house, education, books, and possessions. What he does not truly have is his father's attention and faith in religion. Hassan is the have-not in the Afghan society. His family has no social status. He lives in a mud hut and works as a servant along with his father in Amir's household. What Hassan has, a caring father (actually two of them) and faith in religion and his friend, gives him what Amir cannot have. Amir questions life, himself, his father, and even his loyal friend. His existence is constant turmoil and unhappiness. Hassan, on the other hand, faces life head on and deals with it. He has the faith to show him the way. Only when Amir comes to America and has nothing but hard work and the attention of his father and wife, does he find purpose in raising Hassan's abused child. Abused by the social class that Amir once belonged to.