Friendships. The basis of human interaction. The fusion of two individuals who share secrets, desires and passions. The term is loosely defined at best, and can never be given a particular set of attributes or requirements to qualify as a bona fide friendship. The variations are numerous and can range from superficial conversations to deep neural connections and ultimately love. In the case of Amir and Hassan in Khalid Hosseni’s novel The Kite Runner, the connection between a Pashtun and Hazara is described from both sides, showing how the perception of a friendship varies from each pole. Hosseni conceals and reveals information to the reader until the very end, when we learn that Amir and Hassan connect on a much deeper level than initially hinted at, as the two boys were born to the same father and were half-siblings. Many conditions limited the extent to which the “socially legitimate half,” as Amir declared upon realizing his connection to Hassan in reference to himself, could take this relationship, and the deadly grip of the social divide prevented Amir, a Pashtun, from even referred to him. to Hassan, to Hazara, as a friend.
“In the end, I was Pashtun and he was Hazara. I was Sunni and he was Shia, and nothing was going to change that. Nothing.” A fact stated by Amir at the beginning of the novel. Despite the fact that Amir and Hassan played together, ate together and even experienced family events, social prejudices once again demonstrated that he had the power to influence even the most intimate decisions, even if the affected one is an Afghan child. However, Amir shows some courage in the face of intense racial diversity, continuing, “But we were kids, learning to crawl together. And no history, ethnicity, society or religion was going to change that either.” Amir knew that he was socially superior to his servant, but he also recognized his presence as a faithful companion, a release for interaction, something normal that he could count on. However, racial separation is racial separation, Amir could never refer to a Hazara as a ‘friend’. He would always be a servant to his family, a social inferior. Association with a Hazara could be compared to the adversity a Hispanic would face when interacting with an African American in the 1960s.
However, Hassan’s opinion is written by a different author. One who stands up against direct racial discrimination and has nothing to lose. Hassan’s only friend in the world is Amir. The only one he can talk to constantly and who he sees regularly. This dependency takes Hassan’s interpretation of friendship in another direction. He demonstrates his fidelity to Amir on several occasions; the first example is verbal and only one page in the novel. When he was asked “What if I told you to eat dirt?” by Amir, Hassan’s face hardens and he resolutely replies, “For you, a thousand times.” This quote becomes a recurring theme used as an illustration of Hassan’s commitment to friendship. Later in the novel, Baba tells us, “I see them. When I look out the window, I see them taking Amir’s toys. He just takes them. Then Hassan will come and fight for him.” Not only does this reveal something about Hassan in that he is a very good friend of Amir’s, but it also foreshadows the true relationship between Amir and Hassan, as Baba shows concern for his two sons and his fear that the “socially minded half” legitimate” will become a coward.
The turning point in the novel shows the convergence of 3 fronts: Amir’s need to impress his father, Hassan’s need to fulfill his responsibility to Amir as friend and servant, and Baba’s need to see his father succeed. “socially legitimate” child. This event is the kite flying tournament. As Amir says as narrator: “He doesn’t appreciate the world of literature, and I can’t appreciate the world of football, so it was very difficult for us to find common ground.” The annual kite-flying tournament among the neighborhood boys was a chance for Amir to finally make his father proud of him. Dozens of children would gather in the streets and fly their kites, hoping to cut the strings of their competition and bask in the attention of their friends and family. This was Amir’s best chance to win something for his father, and he wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that attention, not even the possibility of losing his closest companion.
After several hours and most of the day, Amir and Hassan’s kite was between the two remaining competitors. The other was a ferocious blue kite, which had already claimed more than 10 victims at this point in the competition. Ultimately, Amir was successful, cutting through the opposition and sending the kite spinning skyward. Hassan immediately fled to lower the kite, so that Amir could take his game head home with Baba. The haunting tune of “for you, a thousand times more” seems to reverberate through the book’s pages, as Hassan’s loyalty compared to Amir’s is shown in stark contrast as the sun began to descend in the Afghan sky, and Hassan hadn’t arrived yet. to return with the kite. Amir finally leaves to hunt down his partner.
Amir finds Hassan cornered in an alley, the same alley he had pondered at the beginning of the book with his father’s friend Rahim Kahn on the phone: “I’ve been staring at that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” Surrounding Hassan were two thugs and the feared Assef and his two companions. Assef was infamous among the city boys for his brutality with his game of brass knuckles, as well as his uncompromising racial discrimination against Hazaras. Earlier in the book, Amir and Hassan were confronted by Assef, who planned to beat Amir senseless even for socializing with a “Hazara Babalu”, as stated by Assef. Quickly into action, Hassan grabbed the slingshot from him and aimed it at Assef’s eye saying “If you don’t leave us alone, you will be recognized by a new title: One-eyed Assef.” Assef and his thugs backed away, swearing they’d get revenge one way or another. Now, here in this alley, was the fulfillment of that unholy prophecy.
Hassan resolutely stepped between Assef and the blue kite he had just launched at Amir. Assef casually made him a proposal: “Today is your lucky day, babalu, because to get out of here without a scratch, all you need is that blue kite.” In an ordinary relationship or friendship, I’m sure most people would sacrifice the kite and return to the safety of home. Unfortunately for Hassan, he didn’t have a normal friendship. Amir was Hassan’s only friend in the world, and that blue kite acted as a physical representation of his commitment to friendship. If he gave up the kite, in Hassan’s eyes, he was giving up his only friendship.
So instead of submitting to Assef and his cronies, he acted as the sacrificial lamb needed to tighten the bond between his half-brother and his father. Assef used tactics even more sinister and profane than his traditional style of beating up anyone he was intimidating: he anally raped Hassan. And Amir ran away. He turned his back on his closest companion, his half brother, and, whether he wanted to admit it or not, his friend. After all the times Hassan had defended Amir in the past, everything they had been through, Amir couldn’t face injustice and at least suffer with his friend. The scars etched on this day would not recover.
Skipping forward in the book, we find Amir, a college graduate in America, where he had fled after the invasion of Afghanistan made the country too dangerous to live in. He and Hassan hadn’t spoken more than two sentences at a time, and Amir had staged the theft of some of his birthday presents to make it look like Hassan had stolen them. Amir could no longer meet Hassan’s eyes and had to push him away. Although Baba responded to this incident with forgiveness: “Hassan, I forgive you”, Ali and Hassan recognized that they could no longer live under that roof. Baba had to see his son go. Walk out the door and never come back. As Amir said: “Then I saw Baba do something that he had never seen him do in his life: he cried.” Amir had caused, intentionally or not, a division between a father and his son. His half brother and his father. This was a link that would not be repaired after being severed.
Amir and Baba lived in a shoddy apartment in San Francisco, in an area to which many Afghans had fled. Baba would soon contract cancer and die, seeing that his son married a beautiful and faithful woman just before he left. He and his wife Soraya were finally able to settle down and Amir was able to start his career as a professional writer. All the pieces were coming together when the phone rang and Rahim Kahn’s voice came through the earpiece. This is where we start the book. Rahim Kahn was dying and he wanted to see Amir before he left. Since Rahim Kahn was one of Amir’s closest people, he made this trip to his old country, convinced that “there is a way to be good again.”
Rahim Kahn instructed Amir upon his arrival that he needed to find a small Hazara boy, who was Hassan’s son, and save him from the violence that now engulfed Afghanistan. He proceeded to explain how the boy, Sohrab, was Hassan’s son, and how Hassan was in fact Amir’s half-brother. Amir’s search eventually leads him to a soccer game.
At the football game, a man in white comes out during halftime to stone a couple to death for committing adultery. Apparently, this is the man who was currently in Sohrab’s custody. Hassan and Amir’s friendship was now so entrenched that Amir could no longer forget the past and move on. He had to rescue Hassan’s living incarnation and, in doing so, recover his tainted past.
The two meet, and the man in white immediately recognizes Amir, who realizes that the man in white, a Taliban leader, was his old childhood enemy, Assef. Understanding came as soon as Assef referred to Hassan’s son as a “slant-eyed babalu.” Sohrab is presented to them in vibrant clothes and is made to dance. The reader can infer that terrible things happened to this child during his stay with Assef, be it rape, blunt physical attack, psychological trauma, or all of that. Amir manages to secure the boy, but only after Assef beats him to a pulp. In fact, the only way he made it out alive was through Sohrab’s cunning use of his sling, as he gouged out Assef’s eye with a brass ball. Life would be hard for Sohrab, Amir and Soraya, but finally Amir was able to put an end to his horrible past and “make things right again” between Baba, Hassan and himself. Friendship always manages to shine, no matter how long it takes.