Win a War Rug
United We Read
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Stiff by Mary Roach
The Kite Runner
Reader's Guide Discussion
The novel begins with Amir's memory of peering
down an alley, looking for Hassan who is kite running for him. As
Amir peers into the alley, he witnesses a tragedy. The novel ends
with Amir kite running for Hassan's son, Sohrab, as he begins a
new life with Amir in America. Why do you think the author chooses
to frame the novel with these scenes? Refer to the following
passage: "Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of
beginning, end...crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow,
dusty caravan of kochis [nomads]." How is this significant to the
framing of the novel?
The strong underlying force of this novel is the
relationship between Amir and Hassan. Discuss their friendship.
Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan's true friend? Why does Amir
constantly test Hassan's loyalty? Why does he resent Hassan? After
the kite running tournament, why does Amir no longer want to be
Early in Amir and Hassan's friendship, they often
visit a pomegranate tree where they spend hours reading and
playing. "One summer day, I used one of Ali's kitchen knives to
carve our names on it: 'Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul.'
Those words made it formal: the tree was ours." In a letter to
Amir later in the story, Hassan mentions that "the tree hasn't
borne fruit in years." Discuss the significance of this tree.
We begin to understand early in the novel that
Amir is constantly vying for Baba's attention and often feels like
an outsider in his father's life, as seen in the following
passage: "He'd close the door, leave me to wonder why it was
always grown-ups time with him. I'd sit by the door, knees drawn
to my chest. Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two,
listening to their laughter, their chatter." Discuss Amir's
relationship with Baba.
After Amir wins the kite running tournament, his
relationship with Baba undergoes significant change. However,
while they form a bond of friendship, Amir is still unhappy. What
causes this unhappiness and how has Baba contributed to Amir's
state of mind? Eventually, the relationship between the two
returns to the way it was before the tournament, and Amir laments
"we actually deceived ourselves into thinking that a toy made of
tissue paper, glue, and bamboo could somehow close the chasm
between us." Discuss the significance of this passage.
As Amir remembers an Afghan celebration in which
a sheep must be sacrificed, he talks about seeing the sheep's eyes
moments before its death. "I don't know why I watch this yearly
ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the
bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch, I watch
because of that look of acceptance in the animal's eyes. Absurdly,
I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that
its imminent demise is for a higher purpose." Why do you think
Amir recalls this memory when he witnesses Hassan's tragedy in the
alleyway? Amir recollects the memory again toward the end of the
novel when he sees Sohrab in the home of the Taliban. Discuss the
image in the context of the novel.
America acts as a place for Amir to bury his
memories and a place for Baba to mourn his. In America, there are
"homes that made Baba's house in Wazir Akbar Khan look like a
servant's hut." What is ironic about this statement? What is the
function of irony in this novel?
What is the significance of the irony in the
first story that Amir writes? After hearing Amir's story, Hassan
asks, "Why did the man kill his wife? In fact, why did he ever
have to feel sad to shed tears? Couldn't he have just smelled an
onion?" How is his reaction to the story a metaphor for Amir's
life? How does this story epitomize the difference in character
between Hassan and Amir?
Why is Baba disappointed by Amir's decision to
become a writer? During their argument about his career path, Amir
thinks to himself: "I would stand my ground, I decided. I didn't
want to sacrifice for Baba anymore. The last time I had done that,
I had damned myself." What has Amir sacrificed for Baba? How has
Amir "damned himself"?
Compare and contrast the relationships of Soraya
and Amir and their fathers. How have their upbringings contributed
to these relationships?
Discuss how the ever-changing politics of
Afghanistan affect each of the characters in the novel.
On Amir's trip back to Afghanistan, he stays at
the home of his driver, Farid. Upon leaving he remarks: "Earlier
that morning, when I was certain no one was looking, I did
something I had done twenty-six years earlier: I planted a fistful
of crumpled money under the mattress." Why is this moment so
important in Amir's journey?
Throughout the story, Baba worries because Amir
never stands up for himself. When does this change?
Amir's confrontation with Assef in Wazir Akar
Khan marks an important turning point in the novel. Why does the
author have Amir, Assef, and Sohrab all come together in this way?
What is this the significance of the scar that Amir develops as a
result of the confrontation? Why is it important in Amir's journey
toward forgiveness and acceptance?
While in the hospital in Peshawar, Amir has a
dream in which he sees his father wrestling a bear: "They role
over a patch of grass, man and beast...they fall to the ground
with a loud thud and Baba is sitting on the bear's chest, his
fingers digging in its snout. He looks up at me, and I see. He's
me. I am wrestling the bear." Why is this dream so important at
this point in the story? What does this dream finally help Amir
Amir and Hassan have a favorite story. Does the
story have the same meaning for both men? Why does Hassan name his
son after one of the characters in the story?
Baba and Amir know that they are very different
people. Often it disappoints both of them that Amir is not the son
that Baba has hoped for. When Amir finds out that Baba has lied to
him about Hassan, he realizes that "as it turned out, Baba and I
were more alike than I'd never known." How does this make Amir
feel about his father? How is this both a negative and positive
When Amir and Baba move to the States their
relationship changes, and Amir begins to view his father as a more
complex man. Discuss the changes in their relationship. Do you see
the changes in Baba as tragic or positive?
- Discuss the difference between Baba and Ali and
between Amir and Hassan. Are Baba's and Amir's betrayals and
similarities in their relationships of their servants (if you
consider Baba's act a betrayal) similar or different? Do you think
that such betrayals are inevitable in the master/servant
relationship, or do you feel that they are due to flaws in Baba's
and Amir's characters, or are they the outcome of circumstances
Resources on Afghanistan Bibliography -
prepared by Andrea Kempf, Johnson County Community
For further information contact:
Kansas City Metropolitan Library & Information
15624 E. 24 Highway
Independence, MO 64050
Fax: (816) 461-0966
Last Updated 6/7/04