In the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, what are some main themes that the author explores throughout the story?
Throughout the novel The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini explores several themes which include relationships among family members, redemption, and violence. The dynamics among family members are examined throughout the novel, in particular, Amir and Baba's father-son relationship. Amir seeks to gain his father's admiration as a child, while Baba takes his anger out on Amir because he himself is unable to openly claim Hassan as his son without incurring social repercussions. The importance of family in the Afghan community in America is significant and is portrayed when Amir marries Soraya. Ali, Hassan, and Sohrab's adoptions are also important, and the relationships among their family members are explored throughout the story.
Hosseini also explores the theme of redemption throughout his novel. Amir's personal journey to find redemption to atone for his past sins is the driving force behind his decision to rescue and adopt Sohrab. Hosseini suggests that only through personal sacrifice can one find redemption.
The theme of violence is also prevalent throughout the novel. Hassan's rape is a significant moment in the novel and the emotional toll it takes on the characters impacts their lives. Hosseini also depicts the destructive nature of violence by illustrating the damage done to Afghanistan. Characters not only suffer from violence, but its cyclical nature negatively impacts future generations.
Two themes of the novel are the search for identity and the importance of sacrifice. Throughout the book the narrator and central character Amir struggles to understand and come to terms with himself, especially after an act of cowardice in his youth. In this act he watched the bully Assef beat and rape his lower-class friend Hassan. Amir does not intervene to help his friend and will not tell his father what happened, thus projecting a false identity, as he fears his father will despise him for cowardice. Amir is racked by guilt over having failed Hassan. Amid all this inner turmoil, he continues to grow up and must try to come to terms with himself. This search for identity is aggravated when the Soviet invasion forces him to flee to the United States. Much of his identity was family and community based and now that foundation has been ripped away—but this also acts as a gift that offers him a new beginning.
Sacrifice is symbolized by the way the kite runners rip their fingers cutting the kites from the sky with glass-embedded string. The young Amir is proud to cut his fingers to show his father his kite-fighting ability. Later, trying to redeem himself, Amir sacrifices to rescue his half nephew. Bringing the novel full circle, the adult Amir near the end will again cut his fingers flying a kite to try to bring life and hope back to this depressed half nephew. Also at the end Amir is willing to make sacrifices to save Hassan's son.