If this novel is a tragedy, who is its tragic protagonist?
There is a sense of reconciliation at the end of the novel and a sense of unity present. It is in this where it might be hard to find a tragic sensibility. Yet, if I were to find a tragic element, Afghanistan would be the protagonist. Afghanistan is shown to be the one force that does not find any sort of redemption. It is shown to be a nation that has been ravaged by war and political abuse mixed with blight and neglect. The war with the Soviet Union raged on and left the nation as a gutted shell of what it used to be. This was only made worse with the ascension of the Taliban into power. The hope that the Taliban would right that which was wrong was dispelled quite quickly when the repressive and terrorist measures of the Taliban becomes evident.
It is in this condition in which Hassan's sad plight can be seen. Like Afghanistan, Hassan served his master in terms of Amir and his family very nobly and with honor. Like Afghanistan, he becomes physically and emotionally disfigured, not taking his loyalty and service into account. Like Afghanistan, his voice is sought to be rubbed out of memory. If The Kite Runnner is in fact a tragedy, Afghanistan would be the tragic hero because of what it endured and how it struggles for validation in a setting that refuses to acknowledge or validate any notion of experience. The tragic condition of Afghanistan becomes the one constant throughout the narrative. The broken hopes, ruptured dreams, and futility of individual action all become part of the vision of Afghanistan that is evident from a tragic reading of the novel.