- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
For August 2012, our Online Book Club continues by discussing The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas. We hope you will participate in the discussion by leaving comments below!
Question for Week 2:
What parallels can be drawn between Amir and Hassan's relationship, and Baba and Ali's? Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan's true friend?
SPOILER ALERT! If you have not read up to Amir's reunion with Rashid Khan, be advised that this blog will give away secrets...
Amir, the book's narrator, grew up in pre-Russian Afghanistan with his father Baba in a beautiful house in a wealthy area of Kabul. Baba and Amir were Sunni Muslims of Pastun ethnicity. Their servants were Ali and his son Hassan, who lived in a mud hut on the property and were Shiite Muslims of the despised Hazara ethnicity. Ali, a young child, was taken in by Baba's father after his parents were killed. There is little action between Baba and Ali described in first portion of The Kite Runner. It is not until much later in the book that we learn Baba considers Ali to be his brother, is proud of providing for him and Hassan, and is devastated by them moving away.
Amir and Hassan, both without mothers, were breastfed by the same woman. Ali would remind them that "there was a brotherhood between people who fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break". They grew up together, played together, and spent most of their time together until... the incident.
Both sets of relationships (Baba and Ali, Amir and Hassan), were marked by betrayals, secrecy, guilt, loyalty, and sacrifice. Baba betrayed Ali by having sex with Ali's wife and fathering Hassan. Ali kept this secret throughout his life, sacrificing his own honor for Baba. Amir betrayed Hassan by hiding rather than trying to stop Hassan's rape, (which was an act of revenge for Hassan's loyalty to Amir). Hassan later sacrified himself by not denying Amir's false accusation of theft. Ali and Hassan sacrificed themselves again by leaving their home without telling Baba about Amir's lie.
Amir was afraid to be Hassan's true friend for various reasons. One was the ethnic and class tensions between the Sunni Pastuns and the Shiite Hazara minority. The Hazara were often reviled and tormented, called "mice-eating, flat-nosed, load-carrying donkeys". Standing up for Hassan could have meant that Amir himself would be beaten and insulted as well.
In addition, Amir was jealous of Hassan's relationship with Baba. He was jealous of the attention Baba paid to Hassan, and afraid of Hassan being found more "worthy" by Baba than Amir was. He was also unhappy about sharing Baba's time with Hassan, who was always brought along on trips and outings.
After the rape, Amir found it impossible to even look at Hassan, who was a constant visual reminder of Amir's cowardice and guilt. As Amir said, "one of us had to go". This is what led to Amir saying that Hassan had stolen from him.
I find myself wondering how the lives of the four protagonists would have changed if the secret behind Hassan's parentage had been revealed while all of them were still alive...