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One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is the descriptions of Kabul as it was for the young Amir. It is very modern sounding with its cars, restaurants, schools, and homes -- described in language that suggests a more Western vision. Sadly, when Amir returns, the lushness of the land and the comfort and relative wealth of the area seems to have been reduced to rubble and desolation -- much more in keeping with the images that Westerners see on the nightly news in the decades since the war with the USSR and the Taliban take-over.
Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Kabul has attempted to rebuild and return to a state of normalcy. However, with the continued American presence there, suicide bombings and hidden mines have killed thousands of civilians, and the city of more than two million people is still in turmoil. The government has turned over control of policing the area to the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army as the U.S. makes plans to reduce and eventually eliminate their presence in Afghanistan.
If we are looking at how Kabul has changed over the course of the novel, start examining the effects of the war with the Soviet Union and the rise and control of the Taliban. Part of where the book speaks strongest is that it speaks to how Kabul and all of Afghanistan has transformed from a nation of pride and tradition to one that has been broken by years of war and irrevocably transformed into a realm of fear and paranoia. Like the land mines that still remain active throughout Afghanistan, the scars run deep. It makes sense that one of the critical scenes in the book involves a rape, an act that carries with it deep and profound scars where one does not seek to be "cured" as much as to make peace with what will always be there. In this light, Kabul and all of Afghanistan bears much in common with Hassan.
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