The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Essential Questions

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The Kite Runner

  • Khaled Hosseini

Essential Questions

  • Is it possible to atone for our wrongdoings? Can you be good again?
  • How does a flawed character (or person) seek redemption?
  • Do we have an obligation to be loyal and truthful to our friends and family?
  • Is it ever appropriate or necessary to remain a silent bystander when someone is physically or emotionally hurt?


  • -First Afghan novel to be written in English
  • -Over 9 million copies sold worldwide
  • -Translated into over 25 languages
  • -Is on the list of “Banned and Challenged Books”
  • -Kite Running is a popular Afghan pastime.

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1965.

  • Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1965.
  • His mother was a teacher and his father a diplomat.
  • His family left Afghanistan for a posting in Paris in 1976, well before the Communist coup and the Soviet invasion. They intended to return, but sought political asylum in the US in 1980.
  • (Sherman 2006, p.5)
  • Moved to the US in 1980
  • Graduated from Med school in 1996; now lives in California
  • The Kite Runner is Hosseini’s first novel, followed by A Thousand Splendid Suns and And The Mountains Echoed


  • -Relationship: Khaled taught Hossein Khan, the family’s racial Hazara cook to read and write despite the social injustice and racial bias imposed by their society.
  • -Memories: Fond recollections of pre-Soviet era childhood in Afghanistan.
  • -Literature: Persian stories and poems, as well as characters and themes presented in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

About The Kite Runner

  • Hosseini states:
  • “The story line of my novel is largely fictional. The characters were invented and the plot imagined. However, there certainly are, as is always the case with fiction, autobiographical elements woven through the narrative. Probably the passages most resembling my own life are the ones in the US, with Amir and Baba trying to build a new life. I, too, came to the US as an immigrant and I recall vividly those first few years in California, the brief time we spent on welfare, and the difficult task of assimilating into a new culture. My father and I did work for a while at the flea market and there really are rows of Afghans working there, some of whom I am related to.”
  • Hosseini “wanted to write about Afghanistan before the Soviet war because that is largely a forgotten period in modern Afghan history. For many people in the west, Afghanistan is synonymous with the Soviet war and the Taliban.’ He explains: ‘I wanted to remind people that Afghans had managed to live in peaceful anonymity for decades, that the history of the Afghans in the twentieth century has been largely peaceful and harmonious.”

About Kite Running

  • Kite flying is more than a pastime in Afghanistan -- it is a national obsession. The streets of the capital, Kabul, are filled with shops selling kite-flying equipment, and the skies above the city are decorated each day with hundreds of colorful kites fluttering in the wind. Banned by the Taliban as un-Islamic, kite flying has now hit new heights of popularity in the country. Afghans have elevated kite flying to an art form, and one of its chief attractions is kite fighting.
    • During the fight, or "jang," two kites are flown close to one another, often to great heights. The object is then to use the wire or glass coated string of your kite to cut the wire of your opponent's kite to set it free and away.
    • When an opponent's kite is cut free, it flutters away into the far reaches of the city. Such kites are said to be "azadi rawest," or "free and legal," and can be retrieved by neighborhood children to fly another day. These children are the kite runners. Each neighborhood also crowns its own "sharti," or kite-fighting champion.
  • About Kite Running


  • The Kite Runner opens in Kabul in the mid-1970s.
  • Raised in the same household but separated by class, Amir and his best friend Hassan are inseparable until a tragic event changes their relationship forever.
  • Their intertwined lives and their fates reflect the eventual tragedy of the world in which they live.


  • The story takes place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and America.
  • Early 1970s to early 2000s
  • A “modern” Bildungsroman (coming of age) novel
  • Themes of loss of innocence, redemption, and courage

Afghanistan and the World


Introduction to Afghanistan

  • -An ethnically diverse country.
  • -As of July 2007, there are approx. 32 million people estimated to live in Afghanistan.
  • -Pashtu and Dari are considered the official languages of Afghanistan and are spoken by 85% of the people.
  • -30 other minor languages are also spoken in Afghanistan.
  • Introduction to Afghanistan
  • Damaging earthquakes, Flooding; Droughts
  • War continues
  • Has 200,000-300,000 displaced people due to drought and war
  • Has serious illegal drug production problem--#1 in opium production which makes heroin
    • Introduction to Afghanistan
      • Population: 31,056,997 (July 2006 est.)
      • Life expectancy at birth: male: 43.16 years female: 43.53 years (2006 est.)
      • Ethnic groups: Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%
      • Religions: Sunni Muslim 80%, Shi'a Muslim 19%, other 1%
      • Literacy: total population: 36% male: 51% female: 21% (1999 est.)
      • Unemployment rate: 40% (2005 est.)
      • Population below poverty line: 53% (2003)
  • -About 99% of the population is Muslim, and of these Muslims, 84% belong to the Sunni sect.
  • -There has been a long history of an ethnic hierarchy within Afghanistan. It has created imbalances in wealth, influence and education within its society.
  • -Traditionally Pashtuns have dominated the country because they are the presumed majority of the population.
  • -As a result, many of the other ethnic groups have not had a strong voice within the society. 2008)

Tribal System

  • Hierarchical network of several tribes
  • -Pashtun
  • -Most numerous and most powerful
    • -Majority ethnic group at 42%
    • -Highest ethnicity on the social ladder and dominate governmental bodies
    • -Pashtu is their native language
  • -Tajiks
    • -27% of population—second largest ethnic group
    • -Identified with agriculture and town life
    • -Mainly inhabit the fertile eastern valleys
  • -Hazaras
    • -9% of Afghanistan’s population
    • -Reside mainly in the central Afghanistan mountain region called ‘Hazarajat’
    • -Historically, the Hazara seem to have Mongolian origins.
    • -Hazaras are considered to be on the lower end of the socio-economic scale.

Historical Events

  • 1919 – Afghanistan regains independence after third war against British forces trying to bring the country under their sphere of influence.
  • 1953 – General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister. Turns to Soviet Union for economic and military assistance.
  • 1978 – General Daud is overthrown and killed in a coup by leftist People’s Democratic Party.
  • 1979 – Power struggle between leftist leaders Hafizullah Amin and Nur Mohammed Taraki won by Amin. Soviet Union send in troops to help remove Amin, who is executed.
  • 1980 – Babrak Karmal, leader of the People’s Democratic Party Parcham faction is installed as ruler backed by Soviet troops. Various majahedin troops fight Soviet forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms.
  • 1986 – US begins supplying mujahadin with Stinger missiles, enabling them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Babrak Karmal replaced by Najibullah.
  • 1988 – Afghanistan, USSR, US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet Union begins pulling out troops.


  • -Russian casualties:
  • 15,000
  • -Afghan Casualties:
  • Over 1 million dead
  • -6.2 million escape Afghanistan (now over half of the world’s refugee population)
  • -Afghanistan is once again reduced to rubble
  • Kabul City, 1960s
  • After 24 years of war, much of Kabul lies in ruins.
  • -June 2003

Recent History

  • -Could not agree on how to share the power
  • -Civil war broke out among them dividing Afghanistan into several independent zones
  • -This civil war resulted in over 10,000 casualties in Kabul alone
  • Taliban
  • -They began by helping rebuild the Afghani people’s moral (restoring peace and security)
  • -Took over as Afghanistan’s government
  • -Soon began enforcing laws through rigorous enforcement of what they deemed to be “Islamic Law”:
  • -public beating -flogging
  • -amputation of hands -stoning to death

Taliban Rules for Women

  • Complete ban on women's work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals.
  • Complete ban on women's activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband).
  • Ban on women being treated by male doctors.
  • Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution.
  • Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe.
  • Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram.
  • Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage.
  • Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off).
  • Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman's voice).
  • Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman's footsteps.)
  • Compulsory painting of all windows, so women cannot be seen from outside their homes.
  • Ban on the photographing or filming of women. Ban on women's pictures printed in newspapers and books or hung on the walls of houses and shops.

Rules for all of Society

  • Banned listening to music, watching of movies, television and videos
  • Ordered that all people with non-Islamic names change them to Islamic ones.
  • Ordered that men not shave or trim their beards
  • Ordered that all people attend prayers in mosques five times daily.
  • The kite flying has been stopped.
  • Ordered all onlookers, while encouraging the sportsmen, to chant Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) and refrain from clapping.
  • Anyone who carries objectionable literature will be executed.
  • Anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed.
  • All boy students must wear turbans. They say "No turban, no education.”
  • Non-Muslim minorities must distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the majority Muslim population. Just like what Nazis did with Jews.
  • Banned the use of the internet by both ordinary Afghans and foreigners.

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