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The Kite Runner Portrayed Through an Orientalist Perspective

By robby123456789 Oct 27, 2013 871 Words

The Kite Runner Portrayed Through an Orientalist Perspective

The novel, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was portrayed from an Orientalist perspective, projected through the characters and how they were described from their personal attributes and looks. The Kite Runner was also viewed as an Orientalist novel from its constant reminder of the ‘Cultural Status’ and where one stands if they are from different divisions in social class and different castes. Finally, the Kite Runner is viewed as an Orientalist view from the time period the novel was written about, which determined whom where and when one stand in the setting, it also played a huge role from how people were portrayed by others to be like.

The characters were portrayed in the novel as one would think a person from the Western culture would seem to be characterized as, which backed up the Orientalist view. With the barbarity shown by not all but some characters in the novel, the stereotypical idea of a Western person being barbaric, fierce and brutal, demonstrated by Assef who was the one of the braver characters in the novel, showed bravery and barbaric actions, which portrayed the stereotypical Western person. Assef who was talking to Amir showed his bravery by saying, "like pride in your people, your customs, and your language. Afghanistan is like a beautiful mansion littered with garbage, and someone has to take out the garbage" (Page 284). What Assef is trying to explain to Amir is that, with the complications that arrived in Kabul, actions needed to be taking in order for Kabul to maintain their way of life and with all the bad things, which is described as ‘garbage’ they had to destroy those things and take them out. Not only Assef but Baba as well who has a characteristic of a brave and heroic rich man, which was portrayed by him throughout the novel, by Khaled Hosseini. Constantly reminded throughout the novel, one scene really showed Babas’ bravery. As a woman was going to be raped by a Russian soldier, Baba stood up for the woman by bravely replying to the Russian soldier, “tell him he's wrong. War doesn't negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace,” and later on replying again with, "Tell him I'll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place" (122). With all the bravery shown by the characters in difficult situations, they ended up meeting the stereotype of how a Western individual is portrayed through the Orientalist lens.

Cultural Status is showed when the division in social class is even seen in the eyes of young children. Moreover, a teacher of Amir explained to him that Iranians were Shi’s Muslims like Hazara’s (57). Assef who portrays ‘Cultural Status’ very effectively by constantly teasing Hassan about his cultural status as very low, they were discriminating people they do not know because of their ethnic background. Also the sensual woman is looked at when Rahim Khan is describing a woman that he had almost got married to; she was beautiful as a pari, light brown hair, big hazed eyes … (104). Woman were described to be beautiful with breathe losing views. The Orientalist themes in this novel were demonstrated and made the novel focus on making an Orientalist narrative.

The setting and time period which the novel portrayed was also very important in describing the Orientalist view. The novel takes place during the 1960s in Kabul, Afghanistan. For Hassan who is a Hazara, a very low social caste during the time period was treated very unjustly and unfairly in the society, is constantly made fun of and teased by the surrounding individuals and other higher social castes. Assef who constantly bugs Hassan of his position in society bothered Hassan by saying, “Hazaras are not pure Afghans and all they do is polluting ‘his’ homeland with their dirty blood (40). He is explaining to Hassan that he is just a waste of a human being and should just get out of his homeland as they are just garbage polluting his air. The novel was based around family relations that were later showed to be broken and destroyed because of false ethical tensions. Amir’s and Assef’s crime is not only against Hassan, but is against the whole family. Due to his crime, Hassan and his father had to move out of living with Amir and Baba. Any country facing war will not be able to recover to how it originally was and go back to being how it was. Therefore, the setting and time period of the novel sets a difficult atmosphere which helped with proving the Orientalist themes.

In conclusion, the Kite Runner was effectively showed to be an Orientalist novel because of its constant reminders of how the Western society is portrayed in the lens of an Orientalist perspective. From the stereotypical description of a Western individual as an heroic and brave person, its cultural status and portraying where one stands in society, and finally the time period which the novel takes place in, all helps with backing up why Khaled Hosseini’s novel the Kite Runner is all portrayed through an Orientalist lens in the perspective of the reader.

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