The symbolism of dreams, dream imagery and memories play a major part of Chapter Seven of The Kite Runner. Author Khaled Hosseini recounts much of the hours of Amir's greatest triumph--and his lowly act of cowardism--as if it were a dream, interspersing the narration of the rape of Hassan with several sequences of past memories and a dream that helps to distract Amir from the awful scene unfolding before him.
The kite-flying contest begins shortly after Hassan tells Amir of a dream he has had the night before: Amir is the hero, leaping into the water to quell the talk that a monster lived at the bottom. Hassan follows obediently, as he always does. Just before the contest begins, Amir suffers from a case of self-doubt and considers backing out of the event, but Hassan urges him on, reminding him that
"There's no monster, just a beautiful day."
When Amir's kite is the final one flying, signifying him the winner of the tournament, he and Hassan bask in their glory as if the moment was not real.
This wasn't happening. In a moment, I'd blink and rouse from this beautiful dream...
Amir believed that his life had changed, that he would live
... happily ever after, of course.
But when Amir discovers that Hassan has been cornered by Assef and his cohorts, he refuses to rush to his aid. Instead, he shuts his eyes. Hosseini inserts a memory of Amir being told that both of the boys had "fed from the same breast." Hassan has his hand read by a palm reader, but Amir refuses. And then a dream: Amir is lost in a snowstorm when a hand emerges to guide him to safety. It is, of course, Hassan's.
As Hassan is sodomized by Assef, Hosseini inserts another memory. It is of Eid-e-Qorban, a religious holiday in which a sheep is sacrificed. Amir remembers the eyes of the sheep--
It is a look that will haunt my dreams for weeks... I watch because of the look of acceptance in the animal's eyes... [it] understands... its imminent demise is for a higher purpose. This is the look...
It is the look that he sees in Hassan's eyes as Assef rapes him. Later, when Amir meets up again with Hassan, they both pretend that nothing has happened. But when Amir returns to his home, to receive Baba's congratulatory hug,
It happened just the way I'd imagined... In his arms, I'd forgot what I'd done. And that was good.