The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Length: 1396 words (4 double-spaced pages)
1. Amir is a Pashtun and Hassan is a Hazara. Pashtun's are some of the richest people in Afghanistan. The Pastuns have always been the upper class and the Hazaras belonged to the much lower class. They often worked for richer Afghanis, trying to get by on a meager living. The two remain on different levels primarily due to religion. The Pashtun's are Sunni Muslims, while the Hazara's are Shi'a Muslims. The Sunni Muslims are far more traditional beliefs and therefore are often more extreme.
Amir and Hassan are best friends, although in society this is regularly unacceptable. However, because Hassan is Amir's Hazara, or his servant, they easily get away with spending time together. The two are very close in age. Amir's father Baba seemed to treat Hassan very much like a family member. This makes Amir very jealous, which is one of the reasons Amir never played with Hassan when friends or visitors are over. At the same time Amir did not want to admit that Hassan was his friend, even to himself.
Hassan would do anything for Amir. He would protect him against bullies like Assef, another Pashtun. He would run kites for him and clean his room. Amir was a quiet boy who did not live up to the reputation of Baba, but tried for his love. Baba was very fond of Hassan and invited him everywhere, but Amir would lie and say Hassan was unavailable because he wanted his father for himself. He did not want a Hazara to be seen with him and his father.
Amir at home would do everything with Hassan and one time he was being hassled by Assef in public with Hassan by his side. Amir trying to sound like a real Pashtun denied Hassan, even though Hassan eventually saved him. Hassan would later risk his life, his dignity, for Amir as he said, "For you, a thousand times over."
2. Baba is one of the most respected men in Kabul. He has many friends and has been all over the world. He is very wealthy and loves to show off his wealth in a multitude of ways. He built the biggest house in Kabul.
Baba loves children. He feels they are the future of Afghanistan and need to have a place to live when there are no parents.
He proposed that the city needed to build an orphanage. When they said there was no funding for it, so he used his own money to build it. When it was finished it was the nicest orphanage in the country. He felt very happy and knew that the children had a place to go to now.
Baba's most prominent value was his thoughts against theft. He once told Amir that theft is the worst crime ever and Amir did not understand. He said that if you kill someone, you steal a man's right to live. If you lie, you steal a man's right to the truth. Amir remembered that line for his whole life, and always reflected back to it. "Stealing is the worst crime ever."
3. Amir wondered why Soraya was not married. She always hung around the generals van at the flea market. Amir thought she was beautiful and when the general went for a stroll he went up to talk to her.
This happened for some time and when the general came back and saw Amir talking to his daughter he said don't get out of place. What the general meant by this is that Amir was going behind his back courting his daughter. Traditional Afghan ways show how you have the parents talk to each other, a process called Khastegari. Baba would ask the general if Amir could take his daughter Soraya's hand in marriage.
Traditional Afghan ways the family and son go to the daughter's house for a party where she is not present until the end after all the greetings are held. After the party there is usually a traditional Shirini-khori, or "eating of the fruits" which a few months of an engagement period following the wedding, however because of Baba's illness Amir and Soraya forgoed this and held the wedding sooner.
Other cultures have arranged marriages like the Afghani's. What makes this difference is that Amir chose that he wanted Soraya, while in other cultures the children do not have any choices; it is all up to their parents. Afghan's like to know the family where the future son in law is coming from, and Baba being a respected member of the community made the decision a lot easier for the general.
4. Baba had a lot of trouble adjusting to the American ways. He always wished that he were back in Afghanistan. He always stated that the fruit was never sweet enough; the water was never good enough. He missed his own country and would not give the country a chance. He felt that Jimmy carter did nothing to help out, and even added to Communism.
Baba refused to Americanize himself. He made fun of Amir when he was asked to take ESL classes. He told Amir that if he spelled Cat he would get a shiny star. Baba wanted someone to run the country hard, like a general and when Ronal Reagan took office he bought a picture to put on the wall. He felt he would put an end to what's wrong.
Baba was in a grocery store and wrote a check. They asked for an ID and he flipped out. It was mandatory for the clerk to ask for ID and Baba did not understand. He said he has been buying fruit for over three years there and they dare ask him for an ID. He said that back in Afghanistan he could hand someone a branch and that would be good enough of a word that he would come back and pay.
Baba was very wealthy at home and here they were on the poverty level. He refused to take food stamps, as he always paid for himself. He did not understand what it was like to be poor, let alone be insulted when using a check. Baba was not made out for America, and he did not want to try to learn the ways.
5.Fighting was going on every day in Afghanistan. There was a bloodless coo, and the new president wanted women's rights and a republic. A lot of people did not like that. Women belonged in teaching and housework.
There was also religious battles going on, what muslim would be practices. The taliban took control in 1996, and when they did, Hassan was feared. Amir told him that the war was over and it would stop but Hassan knew better. Two weeks after the Taliban took control they banned Kite fighting, one of the most fun activities for kids, especially in winter. Another two years after that there was a massacre of the Hazaras.
The Taliban only cared about one type of muslim. Anyone else was a threat, an enemy. People were afraid to go out because the Taliban was juts looking for a fight. They executed anyone who did not respect the Koran, and they interpreted it their way.
They used to have Soccer games on a tattered field and at half time they would kill people who disobeyed the laws.
It was a short celebration, but a long time of misery. It wasn't until 2001 that the Americans took over and sent the Taliban into hiding into the caves. They ruined the country and everything it used to stand for, they were compared to the Nazi's for what they did. Everyone who wasn't part lived in fear and everything they built was destroyed. There was no money to go anywhere, a lot of people were living in poverty, and they even tour down Baba's orphanage. They did more wrong than right, and people saw that when it was too late.