The first main turning point in the novel is Amir witnessing Hassan getting raped and making the decision to do nothing. Amir just wanted to get the kite to please Baba.
Hosseini has built up to this event by foreshadowing that something will happen that will change their lives forever in a negative way. Even in the first paragraph of the novel, Hosseini is hinting at what is to come. He writes:
- “Father says dreams always mean something.”
- “I thought of the life I had lived until the winter of 1975 came along and changed everything. And made me what I am today.”
- Baba: “There is something missing in that boy.” … “And where is he headed?” Baba said. “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.”
- “Then he smiled his Hassan smile and disappeared around the corner. The next time I saw him smile unabashedly like that was 26 years later, in a faded polaroid photograph.”
- “But i hadn’t turned out like him. Not at all.”
- “I became what I am today at the age of 12.”
Characters and relationships
Amir – Boy who is desperate to please his father, and will sacrifice other people and relationships to do so. Can be selfish and jealous towards Hassan. Pashtun, sunni muslim.
Hassan – Hassan is someone who has spent his life serving Amir, due to being a lower caste. He is devoted and would do anything for him. He also cannot read or write. Hazara, shi’a muslim.
Asef – Asef is part Afghan and part german. He bullies both Amir and Hassan, he rapes Hassan to prove his worth.
On the surface, how does the relationship between Hassan and Amir appear? Hassan and Amir have moments at the beginning of the book where they are friendly and hang out together, when no one else is around as Amir is in some ways embarrassed. But most of the time they have a typical master ad servant relationship. Hassan admits he would even eat dirt for him and Amir takes advantage of this and bosses him around regularly. Amir also gets very jealous of him as Hassan gets lots of respect and attention from Baba.
“But in none of his stories did Baba ever refer to Ali as his friend.” When you dig down how is this relationship not a friendship? What is it in reality? The relationship between Baba and Ali parallels that of Amir and Hassan’s. The term friend does not really apply. They grew up together but due to caste differences Ali just ends up being is slave in the end.
What underlying social factors are at play in this relationship? What does this say about our society?