The Thorn Birds Questions and Answers
by Colleen McCullough

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Who was Cardinal Vittorio in The Thorn Birds most like in The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns?

Cardinal Vittorio in The Thorn Birds most resembles Rahim Khan in The Kite Runner and Hakim in A Thousand Splendid Suns. The three men are similar both in their personalities and in the roles they play in their respective novels.

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Archbishop (later Cardinal) Vittorio di Contini-Verchese is a minor character in The Thorn Birds whose main role is to act as a mentor and father figure to some of the younger characters, Ralph de Bricassart in particular. He is a kindly, wise, modest man who, although his priestly vocation prevents him from literally being a father, is an ideal "Father" by the standards of the Church, selflessly guiding and advising the younger men.

In The Kite Runner, the nearest character to Cardinal Vittorio is Rahim Khan, who is a wise and encouraging father figure to Amir. Amir's actual father, Baba, is a strong character but has little time for his son, and it is Rahim Khan who best understands and supports the boy, particularly in his writing, and guides his moral development.

Hakim in A Thousand Splendid Suns is the father of Laila. Like Cardinal Vitterio, he is calm and thoughtful, always ready to offer help and encouragement. He is particularly concerned with Laila's education and continually tells her that she has an important contribution to make to the future of her country. Like Rahim Khan, therefore, he resembles the Cardinal both in his personality and in the role he plays in the life of a major character in the novel.

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