Essential Passage 1: Chapter 7
I stopped watching, turned away from the alley. Something warm was running down my wrist. I blinked, saw I was still biting down on my fist, hard enough to draw blood from the knuckles. I realized something else. I was weeping. From just around the corner, I could hear Assef’s quick, rhythmic grunts.
I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan—the way he’d stepped up for me all those times in the past—and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run.
In the end, I ran.
I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. That’s what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley, to Hassan. That’s what I made myself believe. I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price? The answer floated to my conscious mind before I could thwart it: He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?
Amir has just emerged victorious in the kite-flying tournament, having sawn through the string of the last remaining kite and thus freeing it to fly free. Hassan, the son of his father’s servant and also his friend, was the best kite runner in Kabul, chasing down the free-flying kites. Hassan had run off to find this kite that was a symbol of Amir’s victory, a victory that Amir hoped would bring some measure of pride to his father, Baba, for his only son. Amir, running to find Hassan, comes across his friend cornered in an alley by three bullies. Assef, whose mother was German and who had a keen fascination for Adolph Hitler, has demanded that Hassan give him the kite. Hassan refuses because he has promised it for Amir. Assef then agrees that Hassan should keep the kite so that it will remind him of what is about to happen to him. With his two friends holding Hassan down, Assef rapes Hassan. Amir is hiding, observing the rape take place. Too afraid to interfere and protect his friend, all he does is stand and watch. Overcome with fear and guilt, Amir runs, leaving Hassan in the hands of the bullies. This is a moment that will henceforth affect all the characters’ lives.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 14
I thought about a comment Rahim Khan had made just before we hung up. Made it in passing, almost as an afterthought. I closed my eyes and saw him at the other end of the scratchy long-distance line, saw him with his lips slightly parted, head tilted to one side. And again, something in his bottomless black eyes hinted at an unspoken secret between us. Except now I knew he knew. Suzanne...there is something in his bottomless black eyes hinted at an unspoken secret between us. Except now I knew he knew. My suspicions had been right all those years. He knew about Assef, the kite, the money, the watch with the lightning bolt hands. He had always known.
Come. There is a way to be good again, Rahim Khan had said on the phone just before hanging up. Said it in passing, almost as an afterthought.
A way to be good again.
In the summer of 2001, after living for many years in America, Amir receives a telephone call from Rahim Khan, his father’s old friend. Rahim tells Amir that he is ill and needs him to come to Pakistan. Amir senses there is some other reason, so he agrees to return to the East. A chance phrase at the end of the phone call makes Amir think about the past: "There is a way to be good again." For many years, Amir has kept secret the fact that he saw Hassan be raped and did nothing. Then, to assuage his guilt, he planted money and his watch under Hassan’s pillow. Amir accused Hassan of theft so that he would be sent away. With that one phrase from Rahim, however, Amir knows that it is not really a secret. Rahim knows all that he has done and that he has lived concealing the secrets of his acts of cowardice. Rahim knows...
(The entire section is 1762 words.)