How is the novel The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, an allegory?  

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In an interview about his novel The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini himself has suggested that the famous rape scene in the work has some allegorical significance. In that episode, the narrator, at a younger age than he is when the book opens, watches as another youth anally rapes the narrator’s young friend.

Commenting on his novel in the interview linked below, Hosseini said this:

. . . for me, the rape scene in the alley has always had an allegorical and symbolic meaning to it. That scene is reminiscent of what happened to Afghanistan. The Afghans fought a ten-year war against the Soviets were a million people died and countless others were displaced and maimed and hurt. But what happened after the Soviets left was that the international community and particularly the U. S. stood by and watched and did not intervene as Afghanistan was brutalized by one regime after another.

Just as the narrator of the novel stands by and doesn’t intervene as his friend is brutalized, so, Hosseini suggests, did the international community stand by, after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and allow the country to be metaphorically raped, particularly by the dogmatic and oppressive members of the Taliban. (Later, when Afghanistan was used by Al Qaeda as a base from which to attack the United States, the U. S. invaded Afghanistan, defeated the Taliban [at least initially], and inflicted severe damage on Al Qaeda.)

If the rape scene is indeed allegorical, the correspondences are not exact. Thus, the person in the novel who watches the rape and who does not intervene is a fellow Afghani, not a foreigner. The rapist himself is, indeed, an Afghani, and so are two other characters who hold the victim down. The victim apparently offers no resistance, although some citizens of Afghanistan (especially in the north) did indeed resist the Taliban.

In these respects, the fictional allegory, at least in this scene, does not offer the kind of exact parallels that we are used to finding in strict allegories.


Read the study guide:
The Kite Runner

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