The morning of the tournament, Hassan described his dream to Amir. In it, the two boys amazed the people of Kabul by swimming in a lake and proving it contained no monster. Then the boys were lauded as heroes and became the lakes owners. When Amir said he didnt want to fly a kite, Hassan told him, “no monster,” and convinced him to proceed. Amir and Hassan were a great team and theirs was one of the last two kites left in the sky. Their hands were bloodied from holding the sharp string, but their hearts were filled with hope of winning the tournament. Amir focused hard and to his surprise, he cut the last, blue kite and won. The true victory for Amir was seeing Baba hollering with pride. Hassan took off to run the blue kite and Amir followed after bringing his kite home. A merchant told Amir that he had seen Hassan running by with the blue kite. He finally found Hassan facing Assef and his two friends, who were trying to steal the kite from him. Assef told Hassan that even Amir considered him worthless, but Hassan defended himself and Amir, saying that they were friends. Amir stood frozen in shock as the fight began.
The chapter is interrupted with Amirs memories, which appear in italics. The first is of Alis words about his kinship with Hassan because they had the same nursemaid. The second is of Amir and Hassan visiting a fortune teller who gets a look of doom on his face while reading Hassans fortune. Next is a dream, also in italics. Amir is lost in a snowstorm until he takes Hassans outstretched hand in his. Suddenly the boys are in a bright, grassy field, looking up at colorful kites.
Amir transports us back to the moment when he hid in the alley, watching Assef and his friends seizing Hassan. He remembers the blue kite and Hassans pants lying on the ground. Assef told both his friends to rape Hassan, but they refused. They consented to hold Hassan down while Assef raped him. Amir saw “the look of the lamb,” the look of defeat, on Hassans face.
The chapter is interrupted by another italicized memory. Baba, Ali, and their sons gathered in the yard to sacrifice a lamb for Eid-e-Qorban, in honor of the prophet Ibrahims near sacrifice of his son. A mullah makes the meat halal and the tradition is to give one third to family, one third to friends, and one third to the poor. Babas tradition is to give all the meat to the poor because he says, “The rich are fat enough already.” Just before the mullah slaughtered the lamb, Amir saw its look of acceptance, as though it understood that its death was for “a higher purpose.” The look would haunt him forever after.
We return to Hassans rape. Amir turned away, weeping, still hearing Assefs grunts issuing from the alleyway. Instead of standing up for Hassan the way his friend had for him so many times, he fled. Amir tried to convince himself that he ran out of fear, but he knew that he felt Hassan to be his sacrificial lamb, the one to suffer for him so that he could live happily. In spite of himself, Amir thought, “He was just a Hazara, wasnt he?”
Some time later, Amir found Hassan walking down the streets, holding the blue kite. He pretended that he hadnt seen the rape, but he was terrified that Hassan would know or worse, would show him devotion despite knowing. Hassan said nothing about the rape even though he was bleeding through his pants. The boys returned home and proud Baba wrapped Amir in his arms. Amir was so overjoyed that he momentarily forgot that he had just betrayed Hassan.
After the rape, Hassan did not spend time with Amir although he still did his chores. A worried Ali asked Amir about Hassans torn shirt and bloodied pants the night of the tournament, but Amir pretended not to know what happened. That night, he asked Baba if they could go to Jalalabad; ever since Amir won the tournament, Baba had not denied him anything. When Baba suggested they invite Hassan along, Amir told him that Hassan was sick. Amir looked forward to having Baba to himself, but Baba invited three vans worth of relatives and friends along. As they drove along in the car, one friends twin daughters recounted Amirs victory at the kite-fighting tournament. At this, Amirs carsickness overwhelmed him and he vomited. As they aired out the van on the roadside, Amir saw Hassans bloodied pants in his head.
Finally, they reached Kaka Homayouns house in Jalalabad. Even though Amir finally had the intimacy with Baba he had wanted all his life, his guilt made him feel emptier than ever. As Amir, Baba, and everyone else slept in the same room, Amir confessed to the darkness, “I watched Hassan get raped.” No one heard him. He realized that he was the monster in Hassans dream and had dragged Hassan to the bottom of the lake. That night, Amirs insomnia began.
A week later, Hassan asked Amir to climb the hill with him and read to him. When they reached their favorite spot, Amir changed his mind and the boys walked back down. After that incident, Amirs memories of the winter of 1975 are unclear. He could not wait for winter to end and school to begin, even though he had fun with Baba. He made sure to never be in the same room as Hassan, although his loyal friend kept trying to make things better between them. One day, after Amir refused to walk to the market with him, Hassan asked Amir what he had done wrong. Amir told Hassan that he should stop harassing him. After that, Hassan left him alone. One day as they were planting tulips, Amir asked Baba if he would get new servants. Baba was furious and threatened to strike Amir if he ever suggested it again. Ali and Hassan were their family, he said.
When school started, Amir was relieved to have homework to keep him busy. Then one day, he asked Hassan to climb the hill with him to hear a new story. Hassan joined him eagerly. After they picked pomegranates, Amir asked Hassan what he would do if he threw a pomegranate at him. When Hassan said nothing, he threw the fruit at him and demanded that Hassan throw one back. As Hassan refused to fight back, Amir threw countless pomegranates at him until he was stained in blood-red juice. Finally, Hassan smashed a pomegranate against his own forehead and asked, “Are you satisfied? Do you feel better?” before leaving.
That summer, Amir turned thirteen. Even though the coldness between him and Baba had returned, his father threw him a lavish birthday party with a guest list of four hundred people. Assef showed up with his parents and charmed Baba. He invited Amir to come play volleyball at his house and to bring along Hassan, but Amir refused. Then Assef offered Amir his gift, a book he picked out himself. After awkwardly excusing himself, he unwrapped the present alone; it was a biography of Hitler, which he threw into the bushes. Rahim Khan found him and told him a story. He had almost married a Hazara woman, but his family was outraged at the proposition and sent her and her family out of town. Then Rahim Khan told Amir that he could confide in him, but Amir could not bring himself to tell his friend what he had done. Rahim Khan gave him his present, a notebook for his stories. Then they hurried back to the party to watch the fireworks. In one flash of light, Amir saw Hassan serving drinks to Assef and Wali. He saw Assef playfully punch Hassan in the chest before, to his relief, the light faded.
The morning after his birthday party, Amir opened his presents joylessly. To him, each gift was tainted with Hassans shed blood. He knew Baba never would have thrown him such an extravagant party if he had not won the tournament, and to him the victory was inseparable from Hassans rape. Baba himself gave Amir a coveted Stingray bicycle and a fancy wristwatch, but they too felt like “blood money.” The only gift Amir could stand to enjoy was the notebook from Rahim Khan. As he considered Rahim Khans story about his Hazara fiancÃ©e, Amir decided that either he or Hassan had to leave their household in order for them to be happy.
When Amir took his new bike for a ride, Ali and Hassan were in the yard cleaning up the mess from the party. Ali stopped Amir to give him a present from himself and Hassan, a new copy of the Shahnamah, the book from which he had so often read to Hassan. When he got home, Amir buried the book at the bottom of his pile of presents so it would not torment him with guilt. Then he began scheming how to get rid of Hassan. Before he went to bed, he asked Baba if he had seen his new wristwatch.
The next morning, Amir hid his wristwatch and a bundle of cash under Hassans bed. Then he told Baba that Hassan had stolen from him. Baba called a meeting with Ali and Hassan in his office. When they arrived, their eyes were red from crying. Hassan lied and said that he had stolen Amirs wristwatch and money. Amir felt a pang of guilt because he understood that Hassan was sacrificing himself for him as usual. He also understood that Hassan knew everything about the night he was raped, that Amir stood by and did nothing to help him. To his shock, Baba forgave Hassan, but Ali and Hassan had already resolved to leave. From Alis cold glance, Amir understood that Hassan had told him about the rape and about Amirs nonaction. Despite Babas begging, Ali and Hassan left. When they were gone, Amir saw Baba cry for the first time. As though echoing Babas grief, the skies opened up and it stormed during the dry season in Kabul.
In Chapter Seven, we finally witness Hassans rape, to which Amir has been alluding since Chapter One. Hassans comparison to the lamb underscores the theme of sacrifice. Hassan is a very brave person, but in the fight with Assef and his friends he does not go down fighting. Rather, he accepts his fate-he gets “the look of the lamb” in his eyes-because his loyalty to Amir makes him willing to suffer even the terribly violent act of rape. Amir, in contrast, is not willing to sacrifice anything for Hassan. Amir is so selfish that he ends up forcing Hassan and Ali out of the house rather than risking the loss of Babas pride in him. The Kite Runner can be considered Amirs journey of learning how to be unselfish and make sacrifices for other people. Even when Rahim Khan makes it his dying wish for Amir to bring Sohrab to Peshawar, Amir tries to make excuses. Ultimately, he goes seeking Sohrab not so much to save the boy, but to save himself from his lifelong guilt. As we have said, it is in the act of running the kite for Sohrab that Amir is finally unselfish. He transforms from the kite fighter, seeking personal glory and attention, to the kite runner, unselfishly bringing joy to someone else.
In Chapter Seven, Hosseini uses italicized memories to represent Amirs emotional dissociation during the rape. In the alley, he is overcome by fear and he sees s. Some of them are of his and Hassans solidarity: their being nursed by the same woman, their holding hands, their looking up at kites together. Some of them are manifestations of doom: the sacrifice of the lamb and the visit to the fortuneteller. By breaking up the chapter with harried memories, Hosseini makes it clear that Amir was in a state of panic and internal conflict. Still, he makes a conscious decision to abandon Hassan, whom he feels on some level to be his “sacrificial lamb” and “just a Hazara.” In light of this, we can see the interruption of italicized memories as a representation not only of Amirs confusion and panic, but the moment when he became a true coward. We could dismiss the act of running away because Amir was a frightened child, but after the rape, his fear of being discovered and his capacity for betrayal only intensifies. As Amir says in Chapter One, that moment in the alleyway defined the rest of his life and, twenty-six years later, sent him on a quest for redemption.
Amirs guilt begins to consume him immediately after the rape. He becomes an insomniac. He cannot bear to be around Hassan, who reminds him of his guilt by merely existing. Instead of making him right his wrong, Amirs guilt leads him into a cycle of wrongdoing. First, he lies to Ali and says that nothing happened to Hassan. Next, Amir begins to ignore Hassan, effectively torturing him with silence and compounding his injury. The only thing that sickens Amir as much as his guilt is the fact that Hassan will not do anything to stand up for himself. The incident with the pomegranates embodies Hassans insistence on taking the high road when it comes to violence and anger. Instead of pelting Amir with pomegranates, he smashes one into his own forehead, as though he is truly incapable of hurting someone else. Later, we find out that even after Amir drove him out of Babas house, Hassan considered Amir “the best friend he ever had” and passed onto Sohrab his belief in nonviolence. Hassans name means “handsome,” which is ironic because people make fun of Hassans appearance; in another sense, it is perfectly fitting because Hassans inner beauty and purity of spirit is what makes him such a respectable and lovable character. When Amir throws the pomegranates at Hassan, he is begging for Hassan to absolve him by hurting him. Instead, his torture continues; he sees juice running down Hassans shirt like blood, reminding him that Hassans blood is on his hands. In the end it is Assef who “heals” Amir by hurting him.
Chapters Seven, Eight and Nine contain clues that Hassan and Amir are brothers and bring into question the idea of family. When Amir watches Hassan get raped, he thinks of Alis stories about the Hazara woman who nursed them both, and about the fact that they have a special connection because they “nursed from the same breast.” When Amir suggests to Baba that they get new servants, his father threatens to hit him for the very first time and says that Hassan and Ali are their family. Baba is quick to forgive Hassan even when he admits to stealing from Amir, begs them to stay, and weeps when they leave anyway. From one perspective, we cannot blame Amir for feeling disconnected from Hassan and Ali; after all, he was raised to know them as servants-cherished ones, but servants nonetheless. Amirs name even means “prince,” making it seem as though he should hold such a view. From another perspective, Hassan and Ali are human beings and it is cruel of Amir to treat them as inferior. Amirs actions toward his relatives, even though he does not know they are, call into question the importance of family ties.
In the story, there is a significant difference between being like family and being family. Even though Hassan is like a brother to Amir-“the person whose first spoken word had been [his] name,” he still betrays him. When Amir discovers that Hassan was indeed his brother, he feels he must make things right. For him, the blood connection gives new validation to their relationship because he realizes that they really were equals. Suddenly, all Amirs feelings of entitlement-to his privileges and to Babas affection-change because he understands that Hassan deserved those things, too. Family ties also bring Amir a new sense of entitlement to Sohrab. When Amir visits the orphanage in Karteh-Seh, his being the boys half-uncle gives him legitimacy. Family ties also prove an obstacle; in order to prove that Sohrab is an orphan, Amir needs proof that the boy has no other family, that his parents are dead. It is ultimately family, Sorayas cousin Sharif, who makes it possible for Sohrab to come to America.
Nearly everything Amir does wrong, he does in order to win or keep Babas attention and affection. His actions come out of his deep-seated belief that Baba blames him for his mothers death. He does not find out until many years later that Baba was blaming himself all along, for shaming Ali and not being able to treat Hassan like a true son. According to Rahim Khan, Baba was hard on Amir because he was trying to raise him to be like himself but more righteous. The irony is that in trying to redeem his own honor, Baba raised a child who felt neglected and who acted out in fear. When Amir wins the kite tournament, he bridges his and Babas worlds through a sport. His true wish, however, is for Baba to acknowledge his special talent for writing. He says, “Maybe Baba would even read one of my stories. Id write him a hundred if I thought hed read one. Maybe hed call me Amir jan like Rahim Khan did. And maybe, just maybe, I would finally be pardoned for killing my mother.” From this statement, we also know that Rahim Khan is in many ways more of a father to Amir than Baba. Rahim Khan is the one who encourages Amir to write and buys him the special notebook that he keeps for so long. He is also the one who holds Amir accountable for his sins and for Babas. Not surprisingly, Rahims first name means “compassionate”; he is the person who understands people and protects them both by keeping their secrets and by making them atone.
The meeting with the Talib in the John Lennon glasses commences in silence, and then the man tells Amir he can do away with the fake beard. Two guards pull off the beard, and their leader asks Amir if he enjoyed todays show. He then brags about a door-to-door display of violence from 1998, calling it Gods work.
Astute readers will realize that no matter what Amir encounters in this house, he will survive because the opening chapter of The Kite Runner takes place in December 2001, and the narrative has not reached that point yet. And those who may not make this connection should realize he survives because of the passage that has him thinking, “I gave him a good fight.”
Many critics object to both father and son — Hassan and Sohrab — suffering sexual abuse at the hands of the same perpetrator. Although they recognize the symmetry between plotlines and generations, it is another example of the improbability and is another example of an unnecessary plot point that pushes the grounds of believability. Others disagree and see Assef, whose half-German lineage and admiration for Hitler is emphasized, as a symbol for the European occupation of Afghanistan and how Europe has raped and destroyed a once vital country.
Assef tells Amir how he came to be a member of the Taliban. While Assef was serving time in jail, he was suffering from an attack of a kidney stone. When one of the guards selected Assef to be made an example of, he kicked Assef many times. One time was in the kidney, Assef passed the stone, and he began to laugh. Assef viewed this as a sign that God wanted him to live.
Amir speaks out against Assefs actions, and Assef calls him a traitor to Afghanistan. Assef claims that Amir is allowed to take the boy but not for free — Amir needs to earn him. Assef reminds Amir of their unfinished business from their childhood, and then calls the guards back into the room. Assef commands them to not enter the room no matter what they hear and tells them that if Amir manages to walk out of the room, he has earned his freedom. After the guards leave, Assef brings out his brass knuckles.
Summary: Chapter 22
Amir and Farid arrive at the house where Amir will meet the Taliban official. Farid waits in the car, and two guards lead Amir to the room where he is to wait. Amir thinks to himself it may have been a mistake to stop acting like a coward. The Taliban official enters with some guards. Amir and the official greet each other, then one of the guards tears off Amir’s fake beard. The official asks Amir if he enjoyed the show at the stadium. He says it wasn’t as good as when they went door-to-door shooting families in their homes. It was liberating. Amir realizes the official is talking about the massacre of Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif, which Amir had read about in newspapers.
The official asks what Amir is doing in America. Amir only answers that he is looking for Sohrab. The official motions to the guards, and Sohrab enters in a blue silk outfit, bells strapped around his ankles and mascara lining his eyes. The guards make Sohrab dance until the Taliban official orders them to leave. While the official rubs Sohrab’s stomach, he asks Amir whatever happened to old Babalu, a name Assef used to call Ali, and Amir realizes that the Taliban official is actually Assef. Stunned, Amir says he will pay him for the boy. Assef replies that money is irrelevant and not why he joined the Taliban. He tells Amir he was once imprisoned, and one evening a guard began kicking him until the blows dislodged a kidney stone that had been causing him severe pain. He felt relief and began laughing. At that moment he knew God was on his side.
Assef says he is on a mission to rid Afghanistan of garbage. Amir calls it ethnic cleansing and says he wants Sohrab. Shoving Sohrab forward, Assef says he and Amir have unfinished business. Assef tells the guards that if Amir exits the room alive, he has earned the right to leave. Then Assef puts on a pair of brass knuckles. Amir remembers little after that. There are flashes of Assef hitting him and swallowing teeth and blood. Amir remembers laughing while Assef beat him, and feeling relief. He had looked forward to that, and felt healed for the first time. Sohrab told Assef to stop and held up his slingshot, and when Assef lunged at him, Sohrab fired, hitting him in the left eye. Sohrab and Amir ran out of the house to where Farid waited with the car. As they drove away, Amir passed out.
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Why does Amir fight Assef?
What page does Amir and Assef fight?
What chapter did Amir and Assef fight on?
What happens in chapter 23 of Kite Runner?