The Kite Runner Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

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In "Kite Runner", what is the significance of the irony in the first story of Amir? After hearing Amir's story, Hassan asks, "Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn't he have just smelled an onion?" How is his reaction to the story a metaphor for Amir's life? How does this story epitomize the difference in character between Hassan and Amir?

The significance of the irony is that the story is a metaphor for both boys. Hassan is destined to be a poor man, but is nevertheless happy. Amir metaphorically kills Hassan by failing to help in the alley and thinking about the material item instead (the kite, represented by the pearls). Hassan's reaction is another metaphor. He cannot understand the impulse to slay, which reflects the character difference between the boys.

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There are several ironies in Amir’s first story and his telling of it to Hassan. The story is a

dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls.

First, the story, in some ways, is a metaphor for both Amir's life and Hassan’s. Up until its end, the story represents Hassan’s life. He is the son of a poor man, so he is destined to be a poor man himself according to the restrictive caste society in which they live. Yet he is happy, just as the man in the story is initially happy. Although Hassan aspires to improve himself, as we later see when we learn that he has taught himself to read, he enjoys his life and appreciates the simple things in it.

Another irony is that Hassan cannot understand why the man would need to do something as evil and self-destructive as slaying his own beloved wife. This is in part because of his naiveté and innocence. More importantly, he does not understand how anyone could be so driven to...

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