The Kite Runner Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner book cover
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How does the phrase "Literature That Rings True" apply to the "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini?

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The phrase "literature that rings true" indicates that readers see in the text something that they can relate to their own lives. Although The Kite Runner depicts characters and events in Afghanistan starting in the 1970s, contemporary readers of all cultural backgrounds can relate to the human story at the heart of Hosseini's novel.

The plot of The Kite Runner follows the friendship of Amir and Hassan, two Afghani boys who are of different religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. In fact, Hassan and his father Ali work as servants to Amir's family. The boys are raised like brothers despite these differences, and Hassan, although he has none of the advantages Amir was born with, is very protective of Amir. Hassan is unfaltering in his loyalty to Amir and Baba (Amir's dad). Amir, however, sometimes feels ashamed of his friendship with Hassan because Hassan is Hazara and a servant and should, socially speaking, be considered "below" Amir. This causes Amir to sometimes be unnecessarily cruel to his friend. The pivotal moment in the plot comes when Amir and Hassan, as a team, have won the kite-running contest, and Hassan goes to run down the kite. When Amir finally finds Hassan, he witnesses Hassan being sexually assaulted by the bully Assef. Amir does nothing and tells no one. He pretends he does not know what happened to Hassan in the alley; however, the guilt eats at Amir. He eventually plants a birthday gift (a watch) that he had recently received in Hassan's room, framing Hassan for theft. Although Baba forgives Hassan and Ali for their supposed transgression, Ali objects to the treatment he receives from Baba and Amir (it is implied later that Ali knows about the assault and know that Amir witnessed it) and Ali and Hassan leave. Amir never sees Hassan again.

After some time, Amir and Baba move to California to escape the turmoil in Afghanistan. Eventually, an old family friend and father figure to Amir (Rahim Khan) contacts Amir when he is an adult (actually this happens at the start of the start of the novel and then Amir goes back and narrates his childhood) and tells him "there is a way to be good again." Amir embarks on quest to rescue Hassan's son Sohrab, who has fallen into the hands of the Taliban and Assef, after Hassan's death (which Amir learns about in a letter). Along the way, Amir is told that Baba was Hassan's father and that he and Hassan were actually half-brothers, making Sohrab Amir's nephew. This raises the stakes for Amir, who already feels like he owes Hassan for the betrayal when they were children. Amir eventually, after a long and complicated process, adopts Sohrab and brings him back to the U.S., achieving some measure of redemption.  

This story of guilt, regret, and ultimately, redemption, is one that almost any reader can relate to. Even though the experience of reading about Amir's betrayal of Hassan can cause readers to lose sympathy for Amir, we also see him struggle and suffer so much as a result of that decision that he ultimately becomes sympathetic again. Readers want to see him redeem himself and exorcise the ghosts of his past. 

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