“Strange… I feel like a tourist in my own country” (Hosseini). The Kite Runner, a historical fiction novel by Khaled Hosseini, depicts the life of Amir, as he struggles to shine before his father. Amir goes to extreme extents to achieve validation but destroys the lives of others including his half-brother, Hassan. After fleeing to America, ephemerally relieving himself from his guilt and shame, Amir’s conflicts lead him back to Kabul. Amir strives to be a better person with his old self a distant memory. In the novel, Khaled Hosseini reveals Amir’s internal and external struggles through the harsh Afghan environment showing that recognition and self-pride is often placed over friendships.
During his childhood, Amir’s conflicted relationship with Hassan motivates him to gain attention and admiration from his father. Amir neglects his friendship whenever Hassan is picked on or recognized by Baba. Amir’s jealousy enables minor issues annoy him: “Hassan made his stone skip eight times. The most I managed was five. Baba was there, watching, and he patted Hassan on the back. Even put his arm around his shoulder” (Hosseini 14). Amir’s jealousy climaxes when he hides his birthday presents to frame Hassan of theft in attempt to kick him out: “Then I took a couple of the envelopes of cash from the pile of gifts and my watch, and tip-toed out… I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it” (Hosseini 104). Amir’s behaviour asserts a Middle-Eastern ethic; one must be superior to everyone. On the other hand, Nicomachean ethics state, “It is the same also with those whose affection is based on pleasure; people care for a wit for instance, not for what he is, but as the source of pleasure to themselves,” (Aristotle). Apply these ethics, Amir’s attitude shows how jealousy turns friends against each other. Hosseini’s illustration of Amir’s character development shows the impact man versus man conflict in an Afghan society.
In addition to Amir’s conflict with Hassan, he also experiences social pressures. Afghan social structure is Pashtun versus Hazara with Pashtuns placed above Hazaras. Because Amir is a Pashtun and Hassan is a Hazara, their friendship is socially distasteful. Hosseini reveals this social feud through Assef, a Pashtun. As Hassan and Amir walk down the streets, Assef states, “In fact, you bother me more than this Hazara here. How can you talk to him, play with him, let him touch you… How can you call him your ‘friend’?’” (Hosseini 41). Amir identifies Hassan as his friend in solitary; however, a servant in public; “ But he’s not my friend! I almost blurted. He’s my servant!” (Hosseini 41). He is never even slightly courageous to call Hassan his friend since he is aware of Hassan’s social status. Hosseini includes the Amir’s struggles with society, revealing the ramifications of the rift between Pashtuns and Hazaras. This pressure turns Amir against Hassan, ultimately, illustrating how society can alter relationships.
The Kite Runner epitomizes the crude, harsh societal issues in Afghanistan and their effects on people. Hosseini dives in on the unspoken topics and intense, brutal aspects of social hierarchy in Afghanistan. Through Amir’s eyes, Hosseini depicts the social segregation of Pashtuns and Hazaras, constant threats from the Taliban, fearful public acts of humiliation, poverty, rape, misogyny, and child prostitution; ultimately, displaying the horrid condition of Afghani living. And through his struggles, Hosseini conveys his narrative. He uses his platform to intentionally expose his readers to Afghanistan’s corrupt society, revealing how friendships and family are given up to stay alive. He elucidates how Afghan civilians are in constant survival mode as a result of fear, poverty, and/or the Taliban. Through Amir’s character, he conveys this narrative. Hosseini took advantage of man versus man conflict and man versus society conflict, divulging the heinous, erratic structure of human life in Afghanistan.
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