The Fluidity of the Kite Runner. Gender Norms & Racial Bias in the Study of the Modern "The Kite Runner"

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 The Kite Runner is a novel by Khaled Hosseini. Published in 2003 by Riverhead Books, it is Hosseini's first novel, and was adapted into a film of the same name in 2007. The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan, his father's young Hazara servant. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy through the Soviet invasion, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime. Plot summary

Part I
Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara who is the son of Ali, Amir's father's servant, spend their days in the hitherto peaceful city of Kabul, kite fighting. Amir's father, a wealthy merchant, whom Amir affectionately refers to as Baba, loves both boys, but is often more harshly critical of Amir, considering him weak and lacking in courage. Amir finds a kinder fatherly figure in Rahim Khan, Baba's closest friend. Khan understands Amir and supports his interest in writing. Amir explains that his first word was 'Baba' and Hassan's 'Amir', suggesting that Amir looks up most to Baba, while Hassan looks up to Amir. Assef, a notorious sociopath and violent older boy, mocks Amir for socializing with a Hazara, which is, according to Assef, an inferior race whose members belong only in Hazarajat. One day, he prepares to attack Amir with stainless-steel brass knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot out Assef's eye out with his slingshot. Assef and his posse back off, but Assef threatens revenge. Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without watching it. One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally Baba's praise. Hassan runs for the last cut kite, a great trophy, saying to Amir, "For you, a thousand times over." Unfortunately, Hassan encounters Assef in an alleyway after finding the kite. Hassan refuses to give up Amir's kite, and Assef decides to teach Hassan a lesson. He beats him severely and then anally rapes him. Amir witnesses the act but is too scared to intervene. Secretly, he also knows that if he intervenes, he might not be able to bring the kite home; therefore, Baba would be less proud of him. After witnessing this brutal act against his dearest friend, he feels incredibly guilty, but knows that his cowardice would destroy any hopes for Baba's affections, so he tells no one what he saw. Afterward, Amir keeps a distance from Hassan, his guilt preventing him from interacting with the boy. Jealous of Baba's love for Hassan, Amir worries that if Baba found out about Hassan's bravery and his own cowardice, Baba's love for Hassan would grow even more. Amir, filled with guilt on his birthday, cannot enjoy his gifts. The only present that does not feel like "blood" money is the notebook to write his stories in given to him by Rahim Khan, his father's friend and the only one Amir felt really understood him. Amir feels life would be easier if Hassan were not around, so he plants a watch and some money under Hassan's mattress in hopes that Baba will make him leave; Hassan falsely confesses when confronted by Baba. Baba forgives him, despite the fact that, as he explains earlier, he believes that "there is no act more wretched than stealing." Hassan and Ali, to Baba's extreme sorrow, leave anyway. It is clear that Ali knows about Hassan's rape. Their leaving frees Amir of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in the shadow of these things. Part II

Five years later, the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan in 1979. Amir and Baba escape to Peshawar, Pakistan and then to Fremont, California, where Amir and Baba, who lived in luxury in an expensive mansion in Afghanistan, settle in a run-down apartment and Baba begins work at a gas station. Amir eventually takes classes at a local community college to develop his writing skills...
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