In The Kite Runner, what is the irony in chapter 10 between Baba and the Russian Solider?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chapter 10 of this great novel is set during Baba and Amir's escape from Afghanistan, being smuggled out by Russian soldiers. However, at one point they are stopped by a Russian soldier who will only let them continue if they allow him to rape an Afghani woman who is there with her husband and child. Outraged at this behaviour, Baba stands up to defend the woman and berate the soldier for his behaviour. What is ironic is how Amir is convinced that Baba will be shot for his impertinence:

"He says he'll enjoy putting a bullet in you almost as much as..." Karim trailed off, but nodded his head toward the young woman who had caught the guard's eye. The solder flicked his unfinished cigarette and unholstered his handgun. So this is where Baba dies, I thought. This is how it's going to happen. In my head, I said a prayer that I had learned in school.

However, in spite of Amir's certainty, a Russian officer stops the proceedings and allows the refugees to continue on their journey. Yet again, Baba has shown Amir that you should always stand up for what is right and defend those who need defence, whatever the cost. Although Amir is convinced that this action is stupid, Baba proves Amir wrong, which also makes Amir remember another time when he stood by and did nothing whilst the strong punished the weak:

My mind flashed to that winter day six years ago. Me, peering around the corner in the alley. Kamal and Wali holding Hassan down. Assef's buttock muscles clenching and unclenching, his hips thrusting back and forth. Some hero I had been fretting about the kite.

A deeper irony exists in this passage, as not only does Baba stand up for his beliefs and survive, but his actions again stand as a severe rebuke to Amir for his lack of courage and his inability to stand up and defend those in need.

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