What examples in The Kite Runner show social groups being marginalized, excluded or silenced within the text?  Give quotes from the book.

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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We mostly see the marginalization of a group of people in The Kite Runner through the character of Hassan. The young boy is a Hazara so he belongs to the minority ethnic group and also the minority religion (Shi'a Muslim). As a result, other characters, namely Assef, bully Hassan and insult him, and the culture as a whole looks down upon Hazaras as of less worth than those of the majority group, the Pashtuns.

We see the prejudice against Hazaras in the ethnic slurs that are thrown carelessly at the characters of Hassan and Ali. Because of his ethnicity and his physical handicap, people call Ali "'you flat-nosed Babalu'" (9), and Hazaras are often referred to as "donkeys" (9). In chapter 5, there is a scene in which Assef and his friends bully and torment Hassan and the narrator, Amir, for being friends with Hassan. Assef calls Hassan "Flat-Nose" and says that Afghanistan should be purified of Hazaras, who "pollute our homeland . . . dirty our blood" (39-40). Assef even supports Hitler's attempted extermination of the Jewish people during World War II. Assef is an extreme example, but his prejudices are also common in the culture. The Hazaras are a servant class and are uneducated; they are seen as inferior.

Amir also learns of the history of oppression Hazaras have faced in Afghanistan through his mother's history book. Amir is shocked as he remarks, "The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women" (9). The Pashtuns (Amir's "people") have repeatedly oppressed the Hazaras due to their ethnicity and religion. The dominant narrative in the country has also silenced the Hazaras, as most history books (the ones Amir was previously familiar with) do not allude to any wrongdoing on the Pashtuns' part.

Later in the novel, when the Taliban has gained power in Afghanistan, they, as a radical Sunni sect, continue to terrorize the Hazaras, eventually resulting in Hassan's death. He has been living in Baba and Amir's former house with Rahim Khan and his family. The Taliban think a Hazara could never live in such a nice house and that he must be there illegally, taking something that should not belong to him. When Hassan protests, he is shot, as is his wife. His son is orphaned and brought to a dirty, underfunded orphanage, where Amir later tries to find him. He becomes basically a slave of Assef, who is now a Taliban leader, and is physically and emotionally abused before being rescued (and does his part in the rescue, as well) by Amir.

When Amir returns home to California and his in-laws protest to him raising a Hazara boy (obviously holding on to their old prejudices), Amir puts his foot down and refuses to allow Sohrab be oppressed and silenced in his home. Amir makes a statement here that the mistreatment of Hazaras was and is wrong, and he wants to correct that in a way he was too afraid to do as a child when his friend Hassan was abused.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The discrimination against the Hazaras is the most obvious form of social bias in The Kite Runner. They are treated badly by many of the dominant Pashtuns before the Russian takeover, and when the Taliban gain control, the Hazaras are subjected to ethnic cleansing. Although Baba has no such hatred, especially for his longtime servants, Ali and Hassan, Amir can never regard Hassan as an equal. To Assef, Hazaras are little better than animals. He reasons that sodomizing Hassan is no sin because

"... there's nothing sinful about teaching a lesson to a disrespectful donkey.
     "It's just a Hazara..."  (Chapter 7)

Assef finds himself persecuted by the Russians when he is subjected to torture and imprisonment following the communist takeover. He in turn kills the Russian officer who had beaten him when when they met

"... on the battlefield a few years later... Then I shot him in the balls."  (Chapter 22)

Afghan women face a second-class stature in both their homeland and in America. The Taliban force all women to cover themselves in the traditional burka and institute strict laws that restrict their right to travel or appear in public places. In California, General Taheri refuses to allow his wife to sing and considers his own daughter tainted because of her previous sexual indiscretion.

That she never sing in public had been one of the general's conditions when they had married.  (Chapter 13)

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As was mentioned in the previous post, Hazaras are marginalized Shiite Muslims who live in the predominantly Sunni country of Afghanistan. For centuries, Hazaras have been discriminated against and oppressed by the majority Pashtun population. Hassan and his father Ali are Hazaras who are marginalized and discriminated against in their hometown of Kabul. In Chapter 2, Amir describes how the Pashtun children would ridicule Ali and explains how the Hazara ethnic group was marginalized, excluded, and silenced in Afghanistan. Amir says,

They called him "flat-nosed" because of Ali and Hassan's characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. For years, that was all I knew about the Hazaras, that they were Mogul descendants, and that they looked like Chinese people. School textbooks barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in passing. (Hosseini 10)

In addition to witnessing children make fun of the facial features of Ali and the education system's refusal to teach about the Shi'a ethnic group, Amir reads about how the Hazaras are discriminated against throughout his country. Amir describes the book by saying,

"It also said some things I did know, like that people called Hazaras mice-eating, flat-nosed, load-carrying donkeys. I had heard some of the kids in the neighborhood yell those names to Hassan" (Hosseini 11). 

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The Kite Runner

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