The Kite Runner

Angela Chang, AP Lit. Pearce. Period 5

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Overview

Kite Runner is a story about Amir, a young Pashtun boy from Kabul, who is haunted by the guilt of betraying his closest friend Hassan, his father's young Hazara servant. It is Amir's chance to make everything right again between Hassan and him when he goes back to Kabul decades later from the U.S. to rescue Sohrab, Hassan's son, from the grip of the Talibans. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy through the Soviet military intervention, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Tabliban regime.
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Similarities

Kite Tournament

The movie really did well in playing out the scenes in the book. The kite tournament is portrayed accurately like it is in the book. Amir and Hassan are skillful in kite fighting. Amir cuts other competitors string while Hassan is a successful kite runner. Eventually, they won the local tournament and Amir gains his father's approval at the cost of his friendship with Hassan for betraying him when he got raped by the bully, Assef.
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Amir's Relationship with His Father/Rahim Khan.

The movie also accurately portray Amir's relationship with his father and his father's friend Rahim Khan like it is in the book. Amir always thought his father hates him, because Amir's mother died from giving birth to Amir. It seems to Amir that his father never approves in anything he does and is always harsh on Amir. Rahim Khan seems to understand Amir more and is a kinder fatherly figure. He supports Amir's interest in being a writer and is the one who Amir often go to when he has troubling thoughts. He also comforts and assures Amir that his father love him really much. The kite tournament acts as a way for Amir to gain his father's approval.

Theme: Redemption

Both the movie and book stress about the theme of redemption. Amir struggles throughout his lifetime on that day after the kite tournament when Hassan sacrificed himself by being raped in order to give the kite back to Amir to show it off to Amir's father. Amir is a coward for abandoning Hassan and not stepping in to help his friend. What Hassan is repaid for his sincerity and loyalty to Amir is betrayal. Amir feels extremely guilty , so he lied about Hassan stealing his watch which cause Hassan and his father, Ali, to voluntarily leave the household. The dark, sorrowful past is hard to forget even when Amir moved to Fremont, California to escape the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. Many years later, Rahim Khan called Amir to come back to see him. When Rahim Khan informed Amir about Hassan and his wife being killed by Talibans and that Hassan is his half-brother, Amir is speechless and eventually sets out a journey to rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab, from the now-dangerous Kabul which is full of Talibans. It is a way for Amir to repay what he did to Hassan and a healing from what happened in the past.

Differences (Plot)

Minor Scenes Excluded

The movie mostly go in line with the book, but there are still few plot differences. For example, in the book, while Amir is in Kabul searching for Sohrab, he stayed in some household and it was omitted in the movie because it is minor scene that does not play a big role in the overall plot. Also, after getting beaten severely by Assef and succeed in rescuing Sohrab, Amir stayed several days recovering his wounds, but this is too time-consuming if it is putted into the movie. Meanwhile, in the book, it says that Rahim Khan asks Amir to bring Sohrab to Thomas and Betty Caldwell, who own an orphanage. However, after rescuing Sohrab, Amir found out that the American Caldwell couple does not exist which leads him to bring Sohrab to the U.S. to live with his wife and him. In the movie, on the other hand, just directing tells Amir's intention to bring Sohrab to the U.S. to live with him and did not mention the Caldwell couple.

Sohrab's Suicide Attempt

The scene is very traumatic in the book that is removed from the film which greatly affect the overall story. After witnessing the killing of his parents and being abused by Talibans, Sohrab's mental state is not very well when Amir found him. Amir is great in comforting Sohrab and making him trust him. Amir tells Sohrab of his plans to take him back to America and possibly adopt him, and promises that he will never be sent to an orphanage again. However, U.S. authorities demand evidence of Sohrab's orphan status. After decades of war, this is all but impossible to get in Afghanistan. Amir tells Sohrab that he may have to temporarily break his promise until the paperwork is completed. Upon hearing this, Sohrab attempts suicide by trying to cut himself in the bathtub. It was a really depressing part in the book. After the suicide attempt, Sohrab remains silent for a long time. Fortunately, Amir eventually is able to take him back to the United States without an orphanage, and introduces him to his wife. The suicide attempt was totally cut out in the movie, which makes the movie less depressing as it already is. It seems like the director removed this scene to avoid more criticisms as a child attempting suicide is unbearable to watch. However, the movie did show Sohrab's quietness and remoteness when he arrived in the U.S.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the movie. The movie accurately portray everything that is in the book. When I was reading Kite Runner in sophomore year, my heart throb reading it. I rarely cry reading a book or watching a movie, but this book is so depressing that I shed a few tears. The movie makes me reminisce the story again and help me see the story play out in film. I love this book alot. Before reading I had no interest in story or history about the Middle East. I can't believe I love this book and that it has taught me the history of Afghanistan, Soviet intervention, and Taliban rule. Khaled Hosseini is a great writer.