The Kite Runner Relationship and Symbolism

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How does Hosseini use symbolism in ‘The Kite Runner’ to present key relationships? You should consider different reader responses and the extent to which your critical approach assists your interpretation.

In Khaled Hosseini’s novel, ‘The Kite Runner’, it is often thought that symbols and metaphors are used as visual representations to reinforce and put emphasis on important stages in the novel. In can be seen that symbols are used in the novel to highlight particular moments in key relationships. For example Kites, the Pomegranate tree, Scars and the Slingshot are each used to put emphasis on specific moments in the relationships between Amir and Hassan and Amir and Baba. Through using symbolism and metaphor to present these key relationships, Hosseini is able to show the reader these relationships through ‘a matter of the extraordinary rather than ordinary language’ giving the novel depth and diversity.

Firstly, in the relationship between Amir and Hassan, Kites are a central and, arguably, the most important symbol. Kites are thought to represent the freedom and bonding of the two boys, both at the beginning and the end of the novel. When the boys were children, kite flying is seen to be fun and pleasurable; something that the two boys enjoyed very much, whereas when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, kite flying was banned. This could represent the more unpleasant times when the relationship between Amir and Hassan was destroyed and when there was little freedom in Kabul. Kites also symbolise the brotherhood and friendship between the two of them, particularly when they are building their kites together- ‘We saved our weekly allowance in the fall’. It makes it easy for the reader to see and understand the innocence and love between the two of them. The use of kite flying and kite running is also used to show the class distinction between Amir and Hassan. Amir is Pashtun whereas Hassan is ethnic Hazara. In kite flying, one role is thought to be more ’grand’ than the other. Amir, at the beginning of the novel is ‘the kite flyer’, the grander of the two roles, and Hassan is ‘the kite runner’. At the end of the novel, the roles are swapped. Amir acts as the kite runner, whereas Sorhab (Hassan’s son who represents Hassan at this point) is the kite flyer. This could be symbolic of Amir completing his journey of redemption and him re establishing his relationship with Hassan. In particular, I feel that in chapter 7, the Blue Kite is used as a symbol of Hassan’s loyalty towards Amir. Hassan will not give up the blue kite which he ran for Amir after winning the kite tournament, even when he is faced with rape as he is afraid that giving up the kite will jeopardize his friendship with Amir. This could be seen as symbolic of the protection and dedication which Hassan shows towards Amir. The blue kite is an object which is in between Hassan and Assef in chapter seven, in the same way that in chapter five, Amir is in between Hassan and Assef. Hassan won’t let the blue kite get torn or damaged by Assef in the same way that he wouldn’t let Assef hurt Amir in chapter 5, in my opinion the blue kite is clearly a symbol of Hassan’s dedication and devotion towards Amir; he would rather endure rape than disappoint him.

Secondly the Pomegranate tree can be seen as a symbol of Amir and Hassan friendship, childhood innocence and shelter. The tree is presented to the reader in two different states. When the tree appears in the first part of the story, in chapter 4, the tree is shown as being fruitful and blooming with ‘blood red’ pomegranates. This to me connotes happiness and contentment. The blooming tree parallels the two boy’s lives at this point, which are lively and full of hope. Amir carves ’Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul’ into the tree. This could be seen as being symbolic of their friendship at this point, being permanent and inerasable; it is physically engraved into the tree. At the beginning of the novel the...
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