With close reference to the text, discuss the major theme of the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hosseini explores many themes in The Kite Runner, including those found in eNotes' TKR/Themes 

  • Identity and Self-Discovery
  • Family and Fatherhood
  • Journey and Quest
  • Heritage and Ancestry
  • Assimilation and Acculturation
  • Abuse of Power

but for me, the primary theme is that of Redemption, Atonement and Salvation. From the very first chapter, in which Rahim Khan assures Amir that There is a way to be good again, the novel's characters battle their guilty consciences over their past actions. Amir has the heaviest burden, finding a way to forget the sins he has committed against Hassan. He begins a new life in America, but even the thousands of miles between California and Kabul cannot erase his past. He becomes an insomniac and, when he sleeps, terrible nightmares remind him of his misdeeds against Hassan. Even Baba's death cannot erase the memories, and it is only after Amir learns about his family's terrible secrets from Rahim does he understand the meaning of Rahim's promise. If Amir can find Sohrab in Taliban-held Afghanistan, perhaps he will be able to forgive himself. The beating he takes from Assef goes a long way toward self-atonement.

My body was broken--just how badly I wouldn't find out until later--but I felt healed. Healed at last.  (Chapter 22)

Baba has a secret that Amir does not discover until after his father's death. Baba's philanthropic endeavors in Afghanistan were no doubt fathered by the guilt of Hassan's true heritage, and Baba faithfully dotes on his remaining son during his final years in California. He takes his secret to the grave, further infuriating Amir, who uses his anger to garner the courage to return to Kabul in search of Sohrab.

He [Hassan] was gone now, but a little part of him lived on. It was in Kabul.
     Waiting.  (Chapter 18)

Sohrab, too, seeks salvation in California, and their is a "melting" of the icy relationship between he and his uncle at the end of the story. And even Soraya finds a way to make up for her past transgressions. She learns to stand up to her father, becomes a teacher instead of a lawyer or doctor, and accepts Sohrab into her household.

harry7459 | Student

In the novel The Kite Runner by Khlaed Hosseini the major theme discussed throughout the novel is racial and ethnic differences. The novel revolves around a society built around a misguided religion, and morals, which are expressed through the mistreatment of the Hazzara’s and the malevolent actions of the Taliban. The Pashtuns exploitation of the Hazzara’s, is illegal in the modern times, and should not be looked at lightly as many Hazzara’s are being abused because of their ethnicity, which they do not control. In the novel Hassan teaching Sohrab to read and write breaks the chain on Hazzara’s being illiterate and subservient. Sohrab being a Hazzara who can read, shows how empowering Hassan was. Throughout the novel many characters experience oppression, because the way they were born.

Amir and his father Baba, were one of many Pashtuns who owned a servant, however they were amongst the few who did not mistreat their servants. Baba using Hassan and Ali as servants was a kind gesture, because if they were not they would earn a lot less money than they would working for Baba. However the reason Baba showered Hassan with love and gifts, was because he felt, guilty about not being able to call him his son, or show him as his son to the public, or else he would be publicly disgraced. This continues throughout the whole novel, if it was not for the discrimination against Hazzaras, Amir would have been treated equally like Hassan by Baba, who favoured Hassan because of his guilt. The Pashtun community disgraces, people have had sexual relationships with a Hazzara, and therefore Baba would have been discriminated against by his own community. That is why Baba never admitted to anyone but Rhan Khan and Ali , that Hassan was his child. If it was not for the racial and ethnic differences, Baba would have been free to show his affection to Hassan without being disgraced upon.

Soraya and Amir adopting Sohrab, shows that they are breaking the old vindictive actions of their culture, by adopting a Hazzara. This stage in the novel shows that despite their culture, being so destructive to Hazzara’s they use their morals, and treat Sohrab as an equal. This is an empowering moment, as it shows how the hate between Pastuns and Hazzras is broken. Hassan teaches Sohrab how to read, which is something many Hazzaras cannot do, because of their ethnicity. Hassan breaks the chain of uneducated Hazzaras by teaching Sohrab how to read, symbolising a new start to Hazzara community. The many problems that occur throughout the novel including the invasion and destruction of the Taliban, are because of the corrupted morals that are expressed in through religion and ethnic groups.

Destruction occurs because of the discrimination, morals, and beliefs of the ethnic groups. Through the events of; the rape of Hassan, Hassan never being able to be accepted as the son of Baba and the destruction of the Taliban shows the mistreatment of innocent civilians brought into a society of corrupt ethics and that is why the main theme of the novel is Racial and Ethnic Differences.

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The Kite Runner

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