What do kite fighting and kite running represent in The Kite Runner?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Kite fighting symbolically represents the positive and negative events of Amir's childhood in the story. One of Amir's favorite pastimes is kite fighting alongside his best friend, Hassan. Hassan is not only Amir's closest friend but is also the most talented kite runner in the city of Kabul. As a kite runner, Hassan has the rare ability to locate the exact destination of a kite when it is falling from the sky and continually beats his opponents to the fallen kites. Kite running symbolically represents Hassan's loyalty to Amir. Following their victory in the kite-fighting tournament, Hassan refuses to give up the blue kite and is tragically raped by Assef. Amir witnesses this traumatic event and does not intervene, which leaves him overwhelmed with guilt and ruins his friendship with Hassan. When Amir reminsces on his experiences kite-fighting, he not only remembers the fun times with Hassan but is also reminded of how he allowed Assef to rape his close friend. Therefore, kite-fighting symbolically represents Amir's childhood friendship with Hassan and how he betrayed him following the city-wide tournament. The duality of kite-fighting, which involves beautiful works of art engaged in a brutal conflict, corresponds to the dual nature of Amir and Hassan's childhood relationship, which was both pleasant and tragic.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Kite fighting, and kite running more specifically, represents sacrifice, loyalty and friendship. Hassan had always been loyal to Amir and always ran for him, early in the novel declaring "for you a thousand times over!" The act of kite running for them was like a ritual establishing and sustaining their bond of friendship. When Amir stood by while Hassan was raped and framed Hassan with stealing the money, it becomes clear that Amir is not loyal to Hassan. Hassan even accepts the blame as a last loyal sacrifice to Amir. Their friendship is severed here and with Hassan leaving, their kite fighting ends as well. 

Dealing with guilt in the subsequent years, Amir tries to make amends by rescuing Hassan's son, Sorhab. The novel ends with Amir running for Sorhab as Hassan ran for Amir. Amir returns the sentiment Hassan had given him, telling Sorhab, "for you a thousand times over!" This reestablishes a bond within Hassan, through his son, and gives Amir the opportunity to become as loyal to Sorhab as Hassan had been to Amir. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial