The Kite Runner Summary
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a novel about two boys growing up in Afghanistan and how their friendship shapes the rest of their lives.
- As a boy, Amir witnesses the rape of his servant and illegitimate half-brother, Hassan.
- After moving to the United States, Amir loses track of Hassan, becomes a writer, and marries a woman named Soraya.
- Amir later discovers that Hassan has died. He tracks down Hassan's son, Sohrab, and rescues him from the Taliban. Amir and Soraya adopt Sohrab.
Amir reflects on his boyhood in Afghanistan and the events that occurred twenty-six years before, during the “frigid winter” of 1975. His past has haunted him but also made him the man he is today. After receiving a phone call from an old friend, Rahim Khan, Amir feels ready to atone for his past, and he begins to recount his childhood.
As a boy, Amir lives in the “most beautiful” home in his neighborhood in Kabul, alongside Baba, his father. Hassan and Ali, two Hazara Muslims, are their servants. Amir and Hassan are playmates, though Amir also makes fun of Hassan for being illiterate.
Amir longs to be accepted by his father. Baba instills in Amir the view that “theft” is the only true sin and that every other sin, including killing and lying, is a form of theft.
One day while out playing, Amir and Hassan encounter Assef, the son of a wealthy neighbor, who wears steel knuckles and terrorizes children in the neighborhood. After failing to engage Amir, Assef becomes frustrated and threatens him with his brass knuckles. Amir, Assef, and Assef’s friends are all astonished when they see that Hassan is holding a slingshot, aimed directly at Assef. Assef lets Amir and Hassan go but promises to seek revenge.
Amir and Hassan are also bonded by their love of kites, and that winter marks the beginning of the kite-fighting tournament. When the day arrives, Amir wins the tournament and Baba’s affection. Amir asks Hassan to run the losing blue kite for him. Noticing that Hassan has been gone a long time, he goes to look for him. He locates him in a desolate alleyway, having a confrontation with Assef. When Hassan refuses to give up the kite, Wali and Kamal hold Hassan down and Assef rapes him, while Amir watches in silent horror.
Afterward, Amir pretends not to have witnessed the incident and withdraws from Hassan. Desperate and consumed by guilt, he stuffs a bag of money under Hassan’s mattress and tells Baba that Hassan has committed the sin of theft. Hassan, though innocent, admits to stealing the money. Baba claims to forgive him and begs Hassan and Ali to stay, but that evening they depart the house forever.
The story moves forward to March 1981, as Amir and Baba, alongside other Afghan refugees, make an exodus out of Afghanistan. After a tumultuous journey, they arrive in Pakistan, where they stay for six months before moving to Fremont, California.
In California, Baba suffers from culture shock. He misses the customs and sense of community in Kabul and is forced to work menial jobs. In 1983, Amir graduates from high school aged twenty. Baba buys Amir a car to congratulate him.
Amir and his father begin selling goods at a flea market, where Amir meets Soraya Taheri, a “slim-hipped beauty.” During this time, Baba is diagnosed with lung cancer and, after refusing palliative treatment, learns that it has metastasized to his brain. As his “last fatherly duty,” Baba asks General Taheri’s consent for Amir to marry Soraya. General Taheri accepts the proposal. Amir and Soraya’s wedding is moved forward so that Baba can attend, and he dies a month later. Amir attains growing success as a novelist, and he and Soraya try, but fail, to conceive a child.
Thirteen years later, in June 2001, Amir receives a phone call from Rahim Khan, who has become gravely ill. He tells Amir that “There is a way to be good again,” implicitly acknowledging that he knows Amir’s secret. When they meet, Khan tells Amir of the devastation...
(The entire section is 1,309 words.)