Is the kite considered a theme in The Kite Runner? Why?Is the kite considered a theme in The Kite Runner? Why?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The kite is most certainly a theme in this wonderful book.  It does not just operate as a plot device, although it certainly is important in the story. I will share with you a few of the ways in which the kite is a symbol.

Early in the story, the kite is a symbol of Amir's success and failure. In winning, he has managed to please his Baba at last, but he has also managed to fail Hassan miserably. His sole concern, after Hassan has been attacked, is with returning that last fallen kite to his father.

When Amir and his father move to America, the kite is a symbol of Afghan culture, which has been transported by the immigrant Afgan community.  This sets the scene for the next bit of symbolism.

When Hassan's son, who has been damaged beyond belief, flies a kite at the end of the book, the kite is a symbol of hope for the child and a symbol of redemption for Amir.  He has paid for his failure to help Hassan all of his life, so this scene of hope for Hassan's son redeems him, at least to some degree, from his failures and sins against Hassan.

Even if we consider the kite as a kite, without examining the plot and themes of this particular story, I think it is a powerful symbol. It reminds us of happy childhoods. It rises above us with beautiful shape and decoration and seems to take away our troubles. Like many objects that are light and rise up into the air, balloons, for example, the kite is a symbol of hope.

I hope this helps you. Good luck! 


amandaeverett2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A physical object repeated over and over again in a novel, and it REPRESENTS a theme of the novel, is called a motif. I believe your kite falls into that category.

The kite motif represents the themes of "protecting innocence," "finding family," "changing culture" but it is not a theme itself.

Speamerfan is correct to call the kite a symbol as well (the words "motif" and "symbol" are nearly interchangable...nearly).

You might also find symbolism in the diamond shape throughout the novel. Look for instances where the author points out the shapes of things that reflect the shape of the motif, such as a pattern on a certain character's clothes, the shape of a house or yard, four people in a conversation each taking a different point of view, the multi-facted character development (the facets of a diamond shape), etc....

The visual quality of a movie makes this shape motif easier to identify. I hope the link can give you a starting point for some great motif discussion.

englishteacher72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I disagree.  I think that the kite is not a theme of The Kite Runner, although it is at the root of the main themes of the novel, which are hope and freedom.  The kite is a very personal symbol for Amir, but it is also a symbol of Afghanistan, as well.  Just like the other response, the kite represents both success and failure to Amir; to Afghanistan, the kite is a representation of freedom and hope.  Pre-Taliban Afghanistan is a happy and hopeful place where kites fly freely every day.  One the Taliban take over, however, kite flying is not allowed.  By the end of the novel, the kites are flying once again.  What a beautiful image that is. 

While I think the kite is the most important symbol in the novel, I do not think I would go so far as calling it a theme.  Like many things in literature, however, this could be a matter of opinion.

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The above post correctly places the kite as a motif in The Kite Runner.  In addition to the themes mentioned, the kite is also representative of the theme of loyalty and betrayal that runs through the novel.  Hassan runs Amir's kite with everything he has, and this shows his undying loyalty to Amir.  Hosseini places the rape scene at the end of the kite run to suggest the nature of betrayal that occurs when Amir refuses to help Hassan. 

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The Kite Runner

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