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The diversified and ever-changing Afghan class structure plays a major if somewhat confusing role in the development of the story line of The Kite Runner. Baba is a wealthy Pashtun, one of the richest men in Kabul; his grandfather was a friend of the former Afghani King Nadir Shah. His servant and friend, Ali, is a Hazara--considered the lowliest of the Afghan tribes. Amir and Ali's son, Hassan, are very close, but Amir is never able to consider him an equal. When the Russians take over the country, Baba and Amir are forced to flee, and they begin a new life in America. There, Baba is reduced to working in a convenience store, and he soon comes to know the life of the lower- middle class. In California, however, he maintains close relationships with other Afghan immigrants; Amir eventually marries an Afghani girl. Although they live in America, their native culture remains all important. When Amir returns to Afghanistan to locate his nephew, Sohrab, he wears a disguise to protect himself from the ruling Taliban--most of whom are Pashtuns like himself. Confounding at times (especially to Americans), The Kite Runner's story line is nonetheless rich in cultural detail of Afghani history, life and customs. It should help all readers both understand and sympathize with the turmoil that pervades present-day Afghanistan and its peoples.
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