What is the social context of The Kite Runner?

Expert Answers

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

Khaled Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner is set in Afghanistan during the tumultuous decades of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. The novel presents the historical and social context of the times through the lives of the characters, and we see how Afghanistan changes over those decades and what life is like for the people who live there. Let's look at some of this context.

In the 1970s, Afghanistan is flourishing and has a rich culture, and it is the backdrop of Amir's childhood. Yet things are far from perfect. Amir and Hassan are terrorized by Assef, a boy of a higher class who eventually rapes Hassan.

As time goes on, though, the situation in Afghanistan changes as the Soviets set up a communist government. Amir and his father must flee the country, and they end up in California, where Amir's father has a difficult time adjusting to a new culture. He misses the old Afghanistan, but the old Afghanistan no longer exists.

Amir settles into life in America, but in June 2001, Amir must return to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab. By now the Taliban is in power, and Afghanistan is devastated by the tyranny of the regime. Hassan and his wife have been murdered by the Taliban, who have taken Sohrab captive. When Amir returns to Afghanistan, he see firsthand the suffering of the Afghan people.

While trying to rescue Sohrab, Amir witnesses the stoning of a man and woman who are accused of adultery. Amir himself is badly beaten by Assef, who is now a member of the Taliban, and Sohrab tries to commit suicide. Eventually, they are able to flee Afghanistan and return to America, but Sohrab has been traumatized by his ordeal.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team