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Masculinity was a theme in The Kite Runner because some of the characters are especially concerned with expressing their cultural definition of masculinity. You may notice that there are not many mother figures or main women characters.
Probably the best example of a character expressing stereotypical masculinity is Assef. Assef is a sadistic, bullying "tough-guy" who would definitely be seen as masculine in the eyes of his father and the Taliban.
Each character in the story, however, expresses different interpretations of masculinity. What does it really mean to be masculine? Some might say that being a man means being a good father (Baba) being brave and righting wrongs (Amir) or being exceptionaly loyal (Hassan).
The underlying conflict between Baba and Amir gives a clear indication of what masculinity means in the Afghan culture. Baba was not comfortable with Amir’s preference for studying literature and his life pursuit of poetry. Baba wondered how his son was unable to defend himself against other boys in the neighborhood who bullied him and took his toys. At one point, Baba took Amir to watch football hoping that the idea of physical sports would rub off on him or at least he would get an opportunity to engage in a manly activity. To some extent, Baba doubted if Amir was his son and confided his predicament to his close friend Rahim Khan.
Amir seemed to understand his father’s inclinations, but he was unable to change the situation and hoped that his father would accept him. Amir looked up to his father, and he was proud of his father’s status in society. Men respected and feared his father because of his physique, his character, and a story that he once fought a bear and survived to tell the tale.
To sum it up, masculinity was equated to physical strength, participation in manly activities (hunting and football) and authority which would, in turn, earn an individual the respect of his community.
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