What are some important events in chapters 16-20 of The Kite Runner?

Quick answer:

I feel that the most important event in The Kite Runner is when Amir realizes that Baba was not Hassan’s father. I think this is one of the most shocking moments in the novel because it completely changes the meaning of Amir’s relationship to Hassan and Baba.

Expert Answers

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

In Chapter 17, Rahim Khan informs Amir that Hassan and Farzana were killed by the Taliban. Amir now understands that he will never be able to ask Hassan's forgiveness over his betrayal. Rahim reveals the reason he asked Amir to go to Afghanistan: to take Sohrab out of the orphanage...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

and place him with adoptive parents. Rahim Khan reveals that Ali was sterile and Baba was Hassan’s father, making Hassan and Amir half-brothers.

This series of revelations make up the most startling and emotionally charged events in the novel, which readers experience in quick succession along with Amir. This information completely changes the meaning of Amir's childhood and his relationship to Hassan. In particular, Amir had been envious of Baba's connection to Hassan as a child, which can now be attributed to Hassan's true parentage. Amir is furious over Baba's dishonesty and his sense of having betrayed Hassan, his only brother, deepens. Chapter 18 develops the theme of betrayal and forgiveness further; Amir wishes to atone for the sins of himself and Baba by seeking a dangerous meeting with the Taliban in order to save Sohrab.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Without a doubt the most important event in these chapters occurs in Chapter Seventeen, which is when Amir goes and visits Rahim Khan in Pakistan and discovers the truth about his relationship with Hassan. Rahim Khan tells him that Hassan was actually Amir's half-brother, the result of an illicit coupling between his father and Hassan's mother, who was married at the time. The impact of this revealed secret is momentous on Amir. Note how he responds:

I'm thirty-eight years old and I've just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie! What can you possibly say to make things better! Nothing. Not a goddamn thing!

Of course, this relationship with Hassan makes Amir's childhood betrayal even worse, which in turn makes Amir feel obliged to do what he can to rescue Hassan's son from Afghanistan and save him. Thus this revelation is of major importance for the structure of the plot, as it is the catalyst that sends Amir back to his homeland, and, though he does not know it at this stage, to redeem himself by facing Hassan's persecutor to save Hassan's son.

Approved by eNotes Editorial