Discussion Topic

The impact of Afghan political events on the lives and relationships of Amir, Hassan, Baba, Rahim, and Assef in The Kite Runner

Summary:

In The Kite Runner, Afghan political events deeply affect the lives and relationships of Amir, Hassan, Baba, Rahim, and Assef. The Soviet invasion forces Baba and Amir to flee to the United States, altering their socio-economic status and relationship dynamics. Hassan and his family face severe persecution under Taliban rule, while Assef gains power and influence as a Taliban official, exacerbating the conflict between him and Amir.

Expert Answers

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

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

Amir and Hassan are born into two different Afghani ethnic groups and social classes, and these divisions between them lead to the tragic end of their friendship. Two boys who would otherwise have been lifelong friends are torn apart because of prejudices toward the Afghani minority group, the Hazaras.

Amir and his father Baba are upper class citizens and part of the ethnic majority, the Pashtuns. Hassan and his father Ali, on the other hand, are part of the ethnic minority group, the Hazaras. As such, they are discriminated against and not allowed an education. They are considered a servant class. Ali was adopted by Baba's family when Ali and Baba were children, after Ali's parents were killed. However, as a Hazara, Ali was still inferior to the family and became their servant since he could not be taken in and treated as equal. Ali remains a loyal servant to Baba for decades, and then his son Hassan also becomes a servant, specifically to Amir.

Although Amir and Hassan grow up together and "fed from the same breasts," "took [their] first steps on the same lawn in the same yard," and "under the same roof . . . spoke [their] first words," the divisions in class and ethnicity drive a wedge between them (11). Part of this is a result of social propriety and expectations: Pashtuns are not "supposed to" be friends with Hazaras or treat them as equals. Another result of the ethnic and class divisions is internalized racism and prejudice. This seems to be what affects Amir most when it comes to his actions (or lack of action) against Hassan.

Amir is a sensitive child, and some might even say weak. He cannot easily stand up for himself or his friend Hassan, so when Assef, the neighborhood bully, challenges Amir about why he thinks of Hassan as his friend, Amir cannot do the noble thing and claim Hassan and their relationship. Instead, he thinks to himself, "But he's not my friend! . . . He's my servant!" (41) When Amir feels that Hassan has some sort of upper hand on him, his internalized superiority kicks in. For example, when Hassan points out a plot hole in Amir's story, Amir thinks, "What does he know, that illiterate Hazara? He'll never be anything but a cook. How dare he criticize you?" (34). This voice inside Amir's head speaks the ugly truth of internalized racism and sets the stage for the tragic scene of Hassan's assault in chapter 7.

After Amir and Hassan win the kite fighting tournament, a moment that should be one of pure joy and relief (Amir is desperate to win the tournament to please his father), Hassan goes to run the kite and ends up cornered in an alley by Assef and his two friends. The friends hold Hassan down while Assef sexually assaults Hassan. Amir finds them in the alley but watches from afar, not intervening to help his friend. When Amir decides to run away, he considers his superiority over Hassan: "He was just a Hazara, wasn't he?" (77) This is what Amir considers the real reason he abandons Hassan, rather than his fear of being physically hurt by Assef. Amir's prejudice against Hassan, whom he should treat as a best friend and a brother, leads to tragic consequences that then alter the course of their relationship forever. Amir's guilt leads him to frame Hassan for theft, which then results in Ali and Hassan choosing to leave the house, despite Baba's offer of forgiveness. Later, as an adult, Hassan is killed by the Taliban for refusing to leave the same house, where he has been invited to live by Rahim Khan after Baba and Amir go to America. The Taliban do not believe a Hazara could live in such a nice house. The prejudices against Hazaras eventually lead to Hassan's murder and mean that Amir can never apologize or ask forgiveness of Hassan; he can only seek his redemption through caring for Sohrab, Hassan's son, a Hazara boy.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

Amir is a Pashtun, which is the ruling majority ethnic group in Afghanistan, while Hassan is an oppressed Hazara. Hazaras are a Shiite ethnic group living in the predominately Sunni country of Afghanistan. As a minority, Hazaras are persecuted and marginalized throughout Afghanistan and occupy a lower social class than Pashtuns. Despite being close friends and half-brothers, Amir and Hassan live drastically different lives throughout the novel. Amir has access to education and the finer things in life, while Hassan lives in poverty and is continually ridiculed by Pashtun citizens for being a Hazara. Also, Amir cannot openly express his affection for Hassan because of his society's standards and expectations. Socially, Hassan is below Amir and will never be considered his equal. This tension between the two characters is a great source of anxiety for Amir, who is critical of how he is perceived throughout society. Fortunately, Amir is able to flee Afghanistan and travel to America when the Russians invade. Amir's affluent Pashtun father has the resources to create a new life in America, while Hassan and Ali are forced to stay in Afghanistan. Hassan is eventually murdered by Taliban forces when they attempt to ethnically cleanse Afghanistan. Essentially, Amir is able to survive and live a fulfilling life because he is a wealthy Pashtun, while Hassan is unjustly murdered in the street because he is a poor Hazara.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

Amir and Hassan characterize the difference between the haves and the have-nots in society. Amir has everything-house, education, books, and possessions. What he does not truly have is his father's attention and faith in religion. Hassan is the have-not in the Afghan society. His family has no social status. He lives in a mud hut and works as a servant along with his father in Amir's household. What Hassan has, a caring father (actually two of them) and faith in religion and his friend, gives him what Amir cannot have. Amir questions life, himself, his father, and even his loyal friend. His existence is constant turmoil and unhappiness. Hassan, on the other hand, faces life head on and deals with it. He has the faith to show him the way. Only when Amir comes to America and has nothing but hard work and the attention of his father and wife, does he find purpose in raising Hassan's abused child. Abused by the social class that Amir once belonged to.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

As other answers have well expressed, Amir and Hassan, though close in age and living in the same household, are separated by ethnicity. Amir is part of the dominant class in Afghanistan, while Hassan is of the despised Hazaras ethnic background. A similar situation might be a rich white boy living in a household with a black boy in the southern United States of the 1950s.

The accidents of birth have a profound influence on the fate of the two boys. Amir grows up amid wealth and privilege, with a good education guaranteed him and an abundance of material belongings, as well as a high-status father. He is waited on by Hassan, and both boys accept Hassan's inferiority. Hassan is abjectly and sacrificially devoted to Amir as his superior, while Amir internalizes the idea that he does not need to reciprocate such loyalty to Hassan. Hassan exists to serve Amir and not vice versa.

Therefore, at the moment Hassan, an easy victim because of his ethnicity, is being raped, Amir watches but does not feel he needs to risk himself to save his friend. Later, Amir's guilt and his power combine so that he can drive Hassan and his father out of his own father's household through accusations of theft.

The story, tellingly, is told from the perspective of the more powerful figure in the relationship, Amir, who tends, as powerful people do, to idealize the loyalty and goodness of their subordinates. Hassan is profoundly marked during his childhood by his lower-class status, and as an adult, he lacks the privilege to leave the country as Amir and his father can when the going gets tough.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

The characters of Amir and Hassan seem so different that they constitute alter egos. There are also many similarities between them: they are Afghan and male, are very close together in age, and live in the same household. At the end, we learn that they are actually half-brothers; Baba is their father. However, Amir is raised to see himself as superior to Hassan, both by the way their ethnic groups and Muslim beliefs are viewed in society overall and by his father’s treatment of Hassan and Ali, the man everyone believes is Hassan's father.

After the Russian invasion, Baba arranges for himself and Amir to leave the country, but Ali and Hassan remain behind and, under the Taliban, endure the extreme persecution directed against their ethnic group and religion. Baba’s decision becomes a matter of life and death, as Ali and Hassan do not survive. A contrast is also drawn between the honesty of Ali and Hassan with the lies that Baba and Amir tell; the novel’s resolution depends on Amir’s facing the consequences of their dishonesty.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

Amir is a wealthy Pashtun, which is the majority Sunni ethnic group in Afghanistan, while Hassan is a marginalized Hazara, which is the oppressed Shiite ethnic group in the country. Amir and Hassan grow up living drastically different lives because they come from different ethnic groups that are treated differently in Afghanistan.

As adolescents, Amir has access to education, material objects, and various opportunities while Hassan works as Baba and Amir's servant and lives in a small shack in their backyard. Hassan is also a prime target for bullies and continually listens to derogatory remarks regarding his ethnicity. Social pressure also prevents Amir from expressing his true feelings of love and friendship towards Hassan because his friend is a Hazara. Following Hassan's traumatic incident and the Russian invasion, Amir is able to flee the country because his father can afford to escape Afghanistan and buy plane tickets to America. Unfortunately, Hassan cannot flee Afghanistan, and many years later the Taliban takes over the country. Under Taliban rule, Hassan is taken out into the street and murdered in front of his family because he is a Hazara. Essentially, Amir is able to survive and prosper in American because he grew up a Pashtun while Hassan suffers and dies because he is a Hazara. Amir and Hassan's different ethnicity and life outcomes reflect the deep division in Afghan society.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

Baba and Amir are Pashtuns, the majority ethnic group in Afghanistan; Ali and Hassan are Hazaras, a minority group and the most persecuted ethnic people of Afghanistan. Although Baba has grown up with Ali and does not feel a hatred for the Hazaras, other Pashtuns in the novel--particularly Assef and his Taliban kindred--believe that the Hazaras are only fit for extermination. When the Russians invade Afghanistan, wealthy Pashtuns like Baba decide to leave, since the Russians attempted to weed out the ruling class. Baba's wealth and high social standing in Kabul were lost when he moved to America, where he settled into a lower middle-class status while working in a convenience store. He and Amir built a new life, safe from persecution by the Russians, but Baba was never to enjoy the status in California that he had earned in Kabul. Amir is able to better adjust to his new country, and he is happy in California, where he completes college, becomes a writer, and marries the girl of his dreams. Ali and Hassan actually had a better life during the Russian occupation, but when the Taliban took over, they immediately began a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Hazaras. Ali eventually died when he stepped on a roadside bomb, and Hassan and his wife were executed by the Taliban. When Amir returns to Afghanistan to search for his nephew, Sohrab, he is forced to wear a fake beard and native clothes in order to avoid detection by the Taliban, who hate Afghans with Western affiliations. Only after the Taliban are driven out of most of Afghanistan are all of the ethnic groups able to again live in relative peace. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Amir and Hassan's lives reflect the divisions in Afghan society?

Hassan represents the lower class, strict adherence to Muslim beliefs. He has little education, and he follows his faith and its teachings to his unfortunate demise. His is a blind loyalty to the faith in which he was raised. Amir represents the middle class who has had opportunities for education. The more education people have, the less blindly they follow their childhood religious teachings. More is open to question than relying on blind faith. Amir is torn in his religious beliefs, and spends much of his life trying to please his father and reconcile his religious beliefs.

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

In The Kite Runner, how do Afghanistan's political events shape Amir, Assef, and Hassan's lives?

In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, the political events in Afghanistan shape the lives of Amir, Assef, and Hassan. Baba realizes that he must take Amir and leave Afghanistan. They encounter brutal Russian soldiers, and Baba shows his courage and, in some ways, his foolishness.

When one of the Russian soldiers asserts his right to sleep with a young Afghani woman trying to flee the country with her husband, Baba stands up to the solider for her. He says, “War doesn't negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace ... Tell him I'll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place." Amir thinks, “So this is where Baba dies ... I'm eighteen and alone. I have no one left in the world.”

Baba is not killed, and Amir is not left alone. However, it does foreshadow their isolation once they leave Afghanistan and move to America. Baba is out of his element there. Whereas he was a wealthy landowner and businessman in Afghanistan, he is a blue collar immigrant in America who does not speak English well. He does not command the same respect in America as he did in Afghanistan, and this change in their social and economic status also affects Amir. Yes, Amir ultimately finds his way and becomes a writer, but his teen years and young adult years are very different than they would have been had he and Baba remained in Afghanistan.

Moreover, had they remained in Afghanistan, there was a possibility that Amir and Hassan would have sought one another out when they become young men. The need for Baba and Amir to flee their country removes that possibility. Hassan's letter to Amir shows how much he still loves his long lost friend and brother. When Rahim Khan tells Hassan of Baba's death, "Hassan buried his face in his hands and broke into tears. He wept like a child for the rest of that night.”

For Hassan, political events make his life harder and more dangerous and ultimately lead to his death. In his letter to Amir, he writes:

Amir agha, Alas the Afghanistan of our youth is long dead. Kindness is gone from the land and you cannot escape the killings. Always the killings. In Kabul, fear is everywhere.

The political shift results in his death at the hands of the Taliban. Rahim Khan tells Amir, “Outside the walls of that house, there was a war raging. But the three of us, in your father's house, we made our own little haven from it. However, later, ... the Taliban banned kite fighting. And two years later, in 1998, they massacred the Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif.” When the Taliban find Hassan at Baba’s house, they take him out into the street and murder him.

For Assef, it crystallizes what was clear about him as a young boy—he is a heartless and cruel bully. He joins the Taliban and is given the freedom to be brutal to people whom he considers traitors or inferior. He tells Amir that he is “on a mission,” and Amir asks,

“What mission is that?" I heard myself say. "Stoning adulterers? Raping children? Flogging women for wearing high heels? Massacring Hazaras? All in the name of Islam?"

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Afghanistan's political events shape Amir, Assef, and Hassan's lives?

Before the communist coup in Afghanistan, the country is relatively peaceful. Political intrigues between the king and his cousin, Daoud Khan, lead to total anarchy in the country with beneficiaries and casualties at the civilian level. Daoud Khan succeeds in overthrowing the king in a bloodless coup when Amir, Hassan, and Assef are just young boys. Daoud Khan proclaims himself president and turns Afghanistan into a republic.

The news of the coup worries Hassan. He does not understand the meaning of the word republic and suspects that the changes signify terrible events in the future. Amir, however, manages to convince him that nothing will happen to him or Ali.

The political situation in Afghanistan takes a turn for the worst when the USSR decides to invade Afghanistan to support Khan’s regime. The situation forces Baba and Amir to flee from their home, fearing persecution for holding capitalist ideals. Prior to this, Hassan and Ali had left Baba’s home for Hazarajat after Hassan is falsely accused of theft by Amir. Amir’s life changes from living in wealth to traveling through Afghanistan and settling in the United States as a refugee seeking asylum. The political landscape of his home forces him to leave all he knows and has behind.

After Khan is ousted, Hassan is requested to go back to the old house where he lived with Baba, Ali, and Amir. The request is made so that he can look after the house. The events happen after he is already married and has a son, Sohrab. Hassan agrees, but his stay at the old house is cut short after Taliban soldiers turn up at the house and kill him and his wife.

On the other hand, Assef becomes a beneficiary of the unfolding political events. He gets an opportunity to engage in war and participate in the ethnic cleansing of the Hazaras. He also rises in ranks to become a fearsome leader in the Taliban force.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Afghanistan's political events shape Amir, Assef, and Hassan's lives?

When the Soviets initially invade Iraq in 1979, Baba is forced to flee the country with his son in order to survive. Baba understands that his pro-American ideals and affinity for capitalism will get him arrested or killed during the Russian occupation. For Amir, immigrating to America is a relief and gives him a new start in life. Amir is able to escape his haunted past and finds respite while living in California with Baba. Unfortunately for Baba, he loses everything he worked for in Kabul and has to start life over by working at a service station.

Assef and Hassan are also impacted by the political events that take place in Afghanistan while Amir is in America. When the Taliban takes over Kabul by defeating the Alliance, the entire society of the city changes. Hassan and his family are no longer safe in Kabul because they are Hazaras. The Taliban attempts genocide by mercilessly killing Hazaras living in Kabul, and Hassan and his wife, unfortunately, are murdered in the street. As for Assef, he rises through the ranks of the Taliban and becomes a leading officer. His affinity for violence and murder propel him to a position of authority and gives him the opportunity to act upon his murderous desires.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Afghanistan's political events shape Amir, Assef, and Hassan's lives?

The political climate shapes all three of these characters quite differently in The Kite Runner. In the case of Amir, he is one of the privileged members of Kabul society--the son of the wealthy, philanthropic Baba, whose family has socialized with past rulers of Afghanistan. When the Russians arrive, however, Baba must flee for his life, leaving his fortune and social status behind. Baba and Amir begin a new life in California, a lower middle class life much different from what they had experienced in their homeland. Assef's family is also a wealthy one who stays in their country and suffers at the hands of the Russians; however, when the Taliban come to power, Assef joins them and rises in the ranks. He takes to the murderous eradication of Taliban enemies, and thrives in this new atmosphere of terror that rules Afghanistan. Hassan's life is a better one while Baba lives there. Although the Hazari are the lowest in Afghan culture, they are able to live in relative peace. Things really do not change for him during the Russian rule, but when the Taliban take over, they attempt to purge the Hazari. Hassan and his wife eventually become just two of their many victims.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Discuss how the ever changing of politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in The Kite Runner?Can you provide three arguments for assistance?

Baba: When the Russians invade Afghanistan, Baba is forced to flee the country with Amir for their own safety. Baba realizes that he will be punished and persecuted for his pro-American views, which is why he decides to leave Afghanistan and travel to America. In America, Baba is forced to work long hours at a gas station and lives a meager life.

Amir: Amir's life changes for the better when he moves to America. He gets a fresh start at life, graduates high school, and enrolls in college to become a writer. Amir also marries Soraya before traveling back to Afghanistan to save Sohrab.

Hassan: When the Taliban kick the Alliance out of Kabul in 1996, Hassan's life dramatically changes for the worse. The Taliban forces attempt to wipe out the entire population of Hazaras via mass genocide. Unfortunately, Hassan is murdered in the street, and his son is sent to an orphanage, where he becomes the victim of sexual abuse.

Sohrab: Following his father's death, Sohrab lives at an orphanage in Kabul, which is occupied and controlled by the Taliban. Fortunately, Amir travels back to Kabul and rescues him. Amir then adopts Sohrab and brings him back to the United States.

Assef: When the Taliban take control of Kabul in 1996, Assef joins the Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement, where he becomes a violent official. As a Taliban official, Assef enjoys harming innocent citizens for fun.

General Taheri: General Taheri loses his prominent military position in the Afghanistan Army when the Russian forces invade. Similar to Baba, General Taheri is forced to move his family to America, where they eventually settle in California. At the end of the novel, the general is invited back to Afghanistan by the reformed government following the Taliban's defeat.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Discuss how the ever changing of politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in The Kite Runner?Can you provide three arguments for assistance?

AMIR.  Amir loses his life of privilege when he flees Kabul with Baba, but his life changes for the better in America. He learns to speak English, graduates from college and becomes a successful, thriving writer. He adapts to the American lifestyle better than any of the other charactes.

HASSAN.  As a Hazara, Hassan feels ethnic hatred even before the Russians arrive. However, the Russians do not seem to single out the Hazara for any specific punishment. When the Taliban take over, however, his people suffer the most; he and his wife are both murdered, and son Sohrab becomes a play thing for the Taliban.

BABA.  Next to Ali's family, Baba loses more than anyone when the Russian rule begins in Afghanistan. He loses his fortune and has to start over again in California, where he works in a gas station. He also suffers a loss of pride in his inexperienced position as a member of the American lower-middle class populace.

GENERAL TAHIRI.  A former Army officer, Tahiri flees Afghanistan when the Russian take over his country. At the end of the story, he is invited back by the reformed government following the defeat of the Taliban.

ASSEF.  The son of a wealthy Pashtun father and German mother, Assef worships Hitler and eventually joins the Taliban. He is happier than ever committing genocide against his fellow Afghans, particularly when his victims are Hazara.

FARID.  The Tajik driver who accompanies Amir during his dangerous return to Afghanistan, Farid joined his father at the age of 14 to fight the Taliban with the Northern Alliance. Farid loses several fingers and toes from wounds he sustained.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Kite Runner, how do Afghanistan's political events shape Amir, Assef, and Hassan's lives?

ALI.  A lowly Hazara, Ali is scorned by society both for his heritage and his physical deformities. Things become slightly better for Ali during the Russian takeover, but after the Taliban takes over, the Hazara are targeted for genocide. Ali dies after stepping on a land mine.

AMIR.  Of all the characters, Amir benefits most when he moves from Afghanistan to California. Although he does not enjoy the wealth and benefits of Baba's former position in Kabul, Amir receives an American education, gets married, and becomes a successful writer. Afghan politics are of little consequence to him until he decides to return to hunt for Sohrab, when he comes into conflict with an old enemy: Assef, now a Taliban official.

ASSEF.  Assef, the son of a wealthy Pashtun, lives a life of privilege before the Russian takeover. Afterward, he is tortured by the Russians before joining the Taliban. Becoming a high-ranking Taliban official, Assef takes over Baba's old house but not before executing Hassan and his wife. He enslaves Sohrab and plans to kill Amir, but Hassan's son sees to it that Assef will not succeed.

BABA.  Baba loses the most when the Russians take over Afghanistan. He is forced to leave in the middle of the night, leaving all of his wealth and possessions behind. In California, he becomes a simple convenience store worker, eeking out a living while making a few extra dollars each weekend at the flea market. He revels in his hatred of the Russians, but he dies without ever returning to his homeland.

HASSAN.  Like Ali, Hassan is persecuted before the Russian takeover because he is a Hazara. Following the exit of the Russians, the Taliban began their systematic murder of the Hazara, and Hassan is executed when he refuses to abandon Baba's home.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Discuss how the ever-changing politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in the novel.

AMIR.  Amir has to follow his father, Baba, to California when they are forced to leave Afghanistan after the Russian occupation. For Amir, it is a mixed blessing: He gets to start a new life, get a good education, get married, and try to forget his past sins in his homeland. When he returns to find Sohrab, Kabul is a changed city, ruled not by the Russians but by the even more ruthless Talban.

ALI.  As an ethnic Hazara, Ali will never rise above the lower levels of Afghanistan's social realm. Life is not good under Russian rule, but the Taliban routinely practice ethnic cleansing against his people.

ASSEF.  The son of a German mother and Pashtun father, the blond Assef worships Hitler and believes in the superiority of his father's people. When the Taliban rise to power, Assef moves up the ranks.

BABA.  Not a religious man, Baba thrives during the years before the Russian takeover. Unwilling to live as a pauper (or risk death) under Russian control, he heads to California. He is unable to rebuild the fortune he amassed in Afghanistan, but his business instinct and work ethic keeps him afloat. He continues to associate with Afghani ex-patriots in California, where his reputation among them is revered; however, the once wealthy man becomes a lower-middle class member of American society

SANAUBAR.  A Hazara women who moves from man to man, Hassan's mother's reputation is as low as her class standing in Afghanistan--scorned for her race as well as her promiscuity.

HASSAN.  As a Hazara, Hassan--like his father, Ali--will never rise up the social ladder in Afghanistan. Following the Russians' departure, he becomes even more of an outcast during the Taliban rule.

GENERAL TAHERI.  Like Baba, Taheri was a powerful man in Afghanistan who was forced to flee during the Russian takeover. He still hopes to return to power someday and awaits a shift in Afghani politics that will allow him to return to his old status. He is a far stricter man than Baba, however, and he has repressed his daughter, Soraya, for her past indiscretions after her arrival (and short, rebellious behavior) in America.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Discuss how the ever-changing politics of Afghanistan affect each of the characters in The Kite Runner.

For starters, Ali and Hassan are members of a "lesser" religion, which does not allow for them to have any financial or social standing. In Afghanistan, if you are Hazara, you are destined to be lower class--no reading, no education, and doomed to a life of servitude.

Contrary to this, Baba and Amir lead a life of privilege due to their background. This makes life for Amir very easy and accounts for his very egocentric attitude, which lies at the crux of this novel.

Afghanistan was a place of turmoil, and people like Assef capitalized on the turbidity of the time and used their physical force, racist opinions and upper-class status to torment those deemed less worthy.

It is essential that the setting of this novel be in such a chaotic environment as one created by the political and religious unrest in Afghanistan. This turmoil allows people to take advantage of others and for the "haves" in society to reign over and further destroy the "have nots".  All characters in this book are affected by this, and even when they move away from Afghanistan, they are still incredibly affected by their cultural history. Choices are still made based on the past because the culture and tradition, as well as the disorder and chaos, has become ingrained in the characters.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Describe the political changes in Afghanistan that provide a backdrop for The Kite Runner.

There are quite a few references to historical events in The Kite Runner that ultimately impact the plot of the novel.  To be brief, the Russians invaded Afghanistan in the late 1970's/early 1980's in an attempt to expand their borders and, some argue, to gain closer access to some southern seaports.  This invasion, however, was unsuccessful as the Russians were not prepared for the Afghan's rugged, mountainous land; in short, the Afghanis won with the help of the newly-formed mujihadeen and, eventually, the Taliban in the mid-90's.

The Taliban were seen as heroes for ousting the Russians, but the Afghan people soon learned that their strict rules and oppressive ideology might be considered far worse.

The plot of the novel was heavily influenced by these historical events: Amir and Baba fled to Pakistan in 1981 to avoid the Russians, as many Afghans did at that time.  Also, Amir encountered Taliban fighters and spoke of their cruel behaviors and actions when he returned to Afghanistan to rescue Sohrab.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How do political changes in The Kite Runner affect Amir, Baba, Rahim, and Hassan?

Rahim Khan and Hassan are much more immediately affected by political change and unrest in Afghanistan than Baba and Amir, simply because the former stay in Afghanistan while the latter move to California.

Before fleeing Afghanistan, Baba is a very powerful and successful man. Once the conditions in Afghanistan worsen amidst political crisis, though, Baba decides it would be best to leave his home country for the safety of himself and his son Amir. It is not an easy journey, but they eventually start a new life in California. Amir has a smoother transition to American life as he goes to school and eventually becomes a writer. Baba has a much more difficult time since he is no longer influential or powerful in the community and doesn't have a great grasp of the language. He has to take low-paying jobs but works hard to provide for Amir.

On the other side of the world, Rahim Khan lives in Baba's house as a caretaker but witnesses the tumultuous political shifts in his homeland. Hassan has the cruelest fate, though, as a Hazara (ethnic minority). Hazaras are targeted by the Taliban, and after Hassan returns to Baba's home at Rahim's invitation, he is questioned by the Taliban. They cannot believe he lives in such a lavish home. Hassan is an honorable man and knows he's doing no wrong, so he challenges the Taliban, who then shoot and kill him and his wife. The racism and extremism rampant in Afghanistan at the time end Hassan's life, so he is clearly the character most deeply impacted by the politics of the country.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How do political changes in The Kite Runner affect Amir, Baba, Rahim, and Hassan?

Amir adapts best to the political turmoil that changes the lives of the characters in the novel. Though Amir and Baba are forced to flee the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, Amir finds life in America a happy one. He learns a new language, graduates from high school and college, lives out his dream to become a writer, and falls in love and marries. Additionally, he distances himself from the guilt that he feels from his betrayal of Hassan, though it still follows him in America, causing him nightmares and insomnia. For Amir, America is a land of opportunity and

... a place to bury my memories.  (Chapter Eleven)

Baba, meanwhile, leaves his fortune behind in Kabul after escaping from the Russians, and though he is in the land that he so admires, he is reduced to the life of a laborer, working long hours in a gas station to make ends meet for him and his son. He is never able to adapt to the new lifestyle: He "loathed" the President, Jimmy Carter, but fell in love with Ronald Reagan, who proclaimed "the Shorawi 'the Evil Empire.' " "Baba loved the idea of America," but unlike Amir, it was "a place to mourn his" memories.

Hassan actually benefits from the Russian occupation, and the Hazaras find peace for a short time until the Taliban gain control. Life becomes worse than ever, and people like Assef actually took pleasure in the slaughter of the Hazaras. According to Assef,

"Afghanistan is like a beautiful mansion littered with garbage, and someone has to take out the garbage...
Ethnic cleansing... I like the sound of it.  (Chapter Twenty-Two)

Rahim Khan had kept a much lower profile while Baba lived in Kabul, and he had taken over Baba's home--"Baba had 'sold' the house to Rahim Khan"--believing that "Afghanistan's problems were only a temporary interruption of our way of life." He had actually celebrated when the Taliban "rolled in and kicked the Alliance out of Kabul," believing them to be "heroes." But when the Taliban killed Hassan and Farzana while Rahim was away and took over Baba's house, Rahim fled to the safety of Pakistan.

     "Yes, hope is a strange thing. Peace at last. But at what cost?"  (Chapter Fifteen

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How do political changes in The Kite Runner affect Amir, Baba, Rahim, and Hassan?

The Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 dramatically impacted Baba's way of life and he was forced to immigrate to the United States because of his pro-American political ideology. Baba understood that he would be putting himself and Amir in danger by remaining in Afghanistan and chose to immigrate to America, which gave Amir a second chance at life and helped him significantly. Amir benefits from the Russian invasion and thrives in America. Amir goes on to earn a college degree and becomes a successful writer in the United States. Hassan returns to Baba's home after Rahim Khan persuades him to leave Hazarajat and move his family back to Kabul. During the period of Russian occupation, Hassan and his family prosper. Two years after the Taliban defeated the Northern Alliance in 1996 they massacred the Hazaras. Tragically, Hassan and his wife are murdered in streets by Taliban soldiers in 1998. Rahim Khan prospered during the Russian occupation and ended up moving to Pakistan shortly after the Taliban took over and murdered Hassan.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How do political changes in The Kite Runner affect Amir, Baba, Rahim, and Hassan?

Amir benefited from spending his adult years in America, while Baba lost all of his power when the Russians took over Afghanistan. Hassan's life was actually a better one under Russian control, but the Hazara became designated for extermination once the Taliban took over. Rahim Khan was affected less than the others, and as a Pashtun, he may have been able to continue living peacefully in Baba's home under Taliban control had he not fled to Pakistan.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How do political events shape the lives of Amir, Hassan, and Assef in The Kite Runner?

The Kite Runner is a drama focusing on events surrounding political upheaval in Afghanistan. Every character in Khaled Hosseini’s novel is influenced by these real, turbulent events but especially Amir, Hassan, and Assef.

The novel explores the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan. Chaos ensues and the Taliban assume control over Kabul. Amir and Hassan are young children in the beginning, and they witness these political events firsthand. Hosseini writes, “There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.” They do not have a typical childhood, like others. Instead, their childhood is impacted by the Taliban's influence.

Eventually, Amir and his father, Baba, are able to escape the political events and live a new life in the United States. The life they knew in Afghanistan no longer exists. Unfortunately, Hassan is not as lucky. Amir learns his childhood friend was killed by the Taliban.

Finally, Amir and Hassan’s former bully, Assef, joins the Taliban. His decision to work with the Taliban is disappointing to Amir when he learns about Assef’s fate.

The political events in the story greatly affect the characters, in both positive and negative ways. Hosseini writes, “What happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.” The Kite Runner is a phenomenal example of how culture can affect characters, thus completely changing their fates.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How do political events shape the lives of Amir, Hassan, and Assef in The Kite Runner?

This is a great question. The most important political event in the book is the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan. As soon as the king is ousted, there is gradual chaos. The Soviet Union eventually moves in and the Taliban gain local power over Kabul.

In light of this the changes are great. Amir and Baba become refugees as they seek to escape. They finally make it to the United States, California. And they are now forced to live a new life. The life they knew is Afghanistan is now gone. This change is especially hard for Baba.

As for Hassan, he is eventually killed by the Taliban. Amir learns about Hassan's fate later on in life. Hassan was not able to escape. So, his fate was death.

As for Assef, he joined the Taliban. From the perspective of Amir, he was part of the political problem. He is part of the oppression of a once beautiful country.

So, we can say that the political events completely changed the lives of all the major characters.

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
Last Updated on