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

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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.

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