What are four examples of metaphors in The Kite Runner?

Four examples of metaphors in The Kite Runner can be seen when Amir compares the past to an object that can be buried, when he likens the Hazaras to "load-bearing donkeys," when he compares Hassan to a lamb to be slaughtered, and when he likens himself to a monster.

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A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words "like" or "as."

In one use of a metaphor, Amir likens the past to an object you can bury. An object that is buried is easily forgotten because you are not looking at it all the time: it is lost in a dark place. In saying this, Amir is challenging the cliche that says you can't forget the past:

It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it.

In Afghanistan, the Hazaras are called "load-carrying donkeys," a metaphor that compares them to beasts of burden.This shows how the Hazaras are persecuted by the racist Pashtuns by being reduced to animal status.

In the quote below, Amir compares Hassan to lamb that has to be slain. This is a very traditional metaphor, implying that like a young lamb, Hassan is an innocent whom the more powerful can kill to serve their own needs. This metaphor alludes to Amir's higher position in the social hierarchy than Hassan's, a despised Hazara:

Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.

In the quote below, Amir likens himself to a monster.

There was a monster in the lake. It had grabbed Hassan by the ankles, dragged him to the murky bottom. I was that monster.

Amir uses the metaphor of a monster, conveying how badly he feels about himself. He is consumed with guilt at not confronting Hassan's rapists, which he considers the act of a monster, not a human being. He also uses the metaphor of dragging Hassan to the bottom of a lake to describe how he let him be degraded.

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There are numerous examples of metaphors in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner.

Metaphorically, the kite fighting represented a connection between Amir and Baba. When Amir won the kite fighting, Baba was proud. Therefore, the kite metaphorically represents pride for Amir and Baba. Ironically, the kite also represents shame for Amir. First, when Amir does not win, he feels shame for letting Baba down. Also, the kite represents shame because Hassan was raped while trying to chase down the last kite to be conquered, the one Amir fought and won over. When Amir tries to find Hassan and the kite, he sees him being raped. Amir did nothing to stop the rape, and he feels shame because of it.

Hassan's cleft lip metaphorically represents his lower status than Amir. Amir states that the cleft lip is the only imperfect thing on Hassan's perfect face. Amir sees this as a blemish on his (Hassan's) social status. At times, Amir denies being friends with Hassan because of his lower social status. The cleft lip acts as a reminder that Hassan is beneath Amir.

I only knew the memory lived in me, a perfectly encapsulated morsel of a good past, a brushstroke of color on the gray, barren canvas that our lives had become.

This quote metaphorically compares Amir's life to a dull painting. The canvas, gray and barren like his life, only possesses sporadic color (events).

I helped him into a clean white shirt and knotted his tie for him, noting the two inches of empty spaces between the collar button and Baba's neck. I thought of all the empty spaces Baba would leave behind when he was gone, and I made myself think of something else.

Here, the metaphor exists within the comparison between the empty space between Amir and Baba is like the empty space between Baba's shirt and his neck.

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There are several examples of figurative language in The Kite Runner. For example, Amir says of Hassan's cleft lip that it is where "the Chinese doll maker's instrument may have slipped; or perhaps he had simply grown tired and careless." In this metaphor, Amir compares Hassan to a Chinese doll who was constructed by a careless doll maker whose instrument slipped, creating a cleft lip on Hasan's otherwise perfect face. 

In another example, Amir says, "People say that eyes are windows to the soul. Never was that more true than with Ali, who could only reveal himself through his eyes." In this metaphor, eyes are compared to conduits to the soul, and Ali, who has a paralysis of the lower muscles in his face, can only express himself through his eyes.

When Amir and Hassan go to Gharga Lake, Amir says, "The water was a deep blue and sunlight glittered on its looking glass–clear surface." In this metaphor, the placid waters of the lake are compared to the smooth glass on a mirror's surface.

When Amir describes sitting on Baba's lap, he says, "Then he lowered himself into the leather sofa, put down his drink, and propped me up on his lap. I felt as if I were sitting on a pair of tree trunks." In this metaphor, Baba's powerful legs are likened to tree trunks, conveying Baba's strength. Later, Rahim Khan tells Baba, "Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." In this metaphor, children are differentiated from coloring books, which people can color in any way they like. Instead, children are their own creation, and parents can't control the way they turn out. 

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Examples of metaphors in Khaled Hosseini's novel, The Kite Runner, include:

  • SCARS.  Many of the characters have physical scars: Baba's back, from where he was attacked by a bear; Hassan's harelip; and Assef's scars received from the Russians are just a few. But there are mental scars as well: Amir's regrets for his transgressions against Hassan; Baba's guilt (shown through his philanthropy) over his family secrets; and Soraya's guilt for causing her mother's stroke. They all serve as a larger metaphor for the scars that the nation of Afghanistan receives during its wars against the Russians and the Taliban. 
  • KITES.  The kite serves as a metaphor in several ways--for the innocence of youth, freedom (the Taliban later bans kite-flying), the need for attention (especially the blue kite with which Amir wins the tournament), and at the end, the peace between Amir and Sohrab..
  • POMEGRANATE TREE.  The tree where Amir and Hassan meet as children represents their innocence, friendship and even shelter. When Amir returns years later, it is dying; only the memory of the children's time together remains, as their still visible carvings symbolizes. 
  • DREAMS.  Amir's dreams and nightmares serve as a metaphor for facing one's fears as well as for his aspirations and desires.
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