Viewing literature through the lens of social class structures allows us to see how socioeconomic status contributes to characters' lives and relationships. In The Kite Runner, the socioeconomic (as well as ethnic and religious) divide between two of the main characters creates the conflict and ultimately leads to tragedy ...
Viewing literature through the lens of social class structures allows us to see how socioeconomic status contributes to characters' lives and relationships. In The Kite Runner, the socioeconomic (as well as ethnic and religious) divide between two of the main characters creates the conflict and ultimately leads to tragedy.
The narrator, Amir, is an upper-class Afghani boy in the 1970's. He grows up alongside Hassan, his servant but also his friend. Amir is a member of the majority ethnic and religious groups (Pashtun and Sunni Muslim), and his father is wealthy and influential. Hassan, on the other hand, was born to Ali, a servant. As a Hazara and Shi'a Muslim, Hassan is denied an education and discriminated against by those of majority groups. Hassan simply never has the opportunities Amir does. Though they are close (even having been nursed by the same woman after Amir's mother dies giving birth and Hassan's abandons the family), Amir sometimes resorts to his cultural superiority and looks down upon Hassan. For example, when the boys are bullied by Assef, Hassan is quick to defend Amir but Amir doesn't feel compelled to speak out against Assef's Hazara slurs. When Amir later sees Assef assaulting Hassan after the kite fighting tournament, Amir runs away and does nothing to defend or protect the boy who grows up like a brother to him. When it comes down to it, Amir feels he is better than Hassan because of their socioeconomic and ethnic differences.
It is also the socioeconomic and ethnic privilege of Amir and Baba that allow them to flee Afghanistan while Ali and Hassan must stay. While Baba has a tough time adjusting to American life, Amir gets a great education and his dream job as a writer. He meets Soraya and they start a happy marriage together. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, Ali is killed by a landmine and Hassan is murdered by the Taliban for living in Baba's palatial house (at Rahim Khan's request and invitation). The Taliban cannot believe someone so low in status could reside there, and when Hassan's integrity and honor lead him to fight back, he is shot. Hassan's son Sohrab is orphaned and must live in squalid conditions in a home with other children until he is forcibly taken by Assef as a personal slave.
Amir is (arguably) able to redeem himself by rescuing Sohrab and defending him against his father-in-law, who feels it is not right for Amir to adopt a Hazara boy. It is ultimately the socioeconomic and ethnic differences between Amir and Hassan that lead to the division, suffering, and tragedy that these characters face. Khaled Hosseini does provide a glimmer of hope at the end of the novel, but he is also realistic in portraying the turmoil and discrimination in Afghanistan.