The Kite Runner Questions and Answers
by Khaled Hosseini

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What is the significance of summer, winter, water, eyes, houses, and mirrors in The Kite Runner?

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In The Kite Runner, Amir describes winter as his and other Afghani children's favorite time of year. School is out, and more importantly, it's time for the kite-fighting tournament. Despite this positive association with winter, the trauma of Hassan's sexual assault mars the season for both Hassan and Amir. On the contrary, the summer (which American kids associate with freedom) is the time for school.

Houses are significant in a couple of ways, specifically Amir and Baba's house in Kabul. That house is symbolic to Amir in that it holds his childhood memories, but it quickly becomes associated with pain and guilt after Hassan is assaulted. Later, when Amir returns to the house after many years in America, he is ready to embrace memories and reclaim the past so that he can move past his sins. Early in the novel, the description of Baba's house versus Ali and Hassan's hut is also important in illustrating the vast class difference between the families. This later becomes ironic when we learn that Hassan is actually Baba's biological son.

The mirror is significant mostly in the scene in which Amir is in the hospital and looks at his scar. After the fight with Assef, Amir bears a scar that resembles Hassan's harelip. This connects the two characters and shows that Amir is taking on Hassan's admirable traits as he seeks to atone for his sins by helping Sohrab. In a more abstract sense, we can also see the idea of mirrors as reflecting Amir and Hassan's characters, especially Amir's. He sees in Hassan characteristics that he wishes he had, and he most notably sees in interactions between Baba and Hassan his ideal relationship with his father.

Water becomes an important symbol when Amir compares America to a river, "roaring along, unmindful of the past. I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom" (136). For Amir, America represents new beginnings and movement away from the past, so he uses this apt water metaphor to express his hopes for the future.

Because the novel centers around shame and secrets, eyes become significant in the way characters express emotions to one another rather than speaking. Amir references Rahim Khan's "black bottomless eyes hinting at an unspoken secret between us" (99). Eyes also express Hassan's pain, as well as Ali's, when they decide to leave the house. Eyes are perhaps more literal in the novel than symbolic.

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