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Published: 08-09-2019

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A look at the culture in Afghanistan in The Kite Runner

Afghanistan translates to “Land of the Afghans” and is a nation with a sturdy culture, like diverse subcultures and Islamic traditions. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the story of a young boy, Amir. He lives in an affluent neighborhood in Kabul with his father, Baba. His very best buddy, Hassan, is their servant. The book follows Amir’s life, showing the difficulties that arise due to guilt over his turbulent previous. The Kite Runner requires place predominantly in Afghanistan, but scenes in America highlight the Afghan-American community. The book explores numerous elements of Afghan culture, a robust element of Hosseini’s background, which influences his writing. This includes Arabic dialogue, but also the actual storyline and character development. Afghan culture is the driving force behind the plot and character’s decisions in The Kite Runner. Kite fighting is a characteristic of Afghan culture that affects relationships in the novel. Honor, an additional centerpiece of Afghan culture, influences the choices of the book’s characters. Ultimately, ethnic tensions and discrimination inside the Afghan culture against Hazara folks result in problems for Hassan and Ali but also Baba’s internal strife more than his Hazara son.

Kite fighting is a essential cultural element of The Kite Runner that temporarily yet drastically improves the partnership amongst Amir and his father, Baba. In Kabul, schools close in the winter and the boys fly kites in their spare time. Using strings coated in glass, kites fly high attempting to reduce every single other. The highlight of this cultural tradition is the kite fighting tournament, and the last kite captured is an honorary trophy. Amir seeks to win this tournament in hopes of earning the respect of his father, who views him as overly passive and defenseless. Just before the tournament, Baba says in private that Amir “needs somebody who understands him, due to the fact god knows I don’t. But some thing about Amir troubles me in a way I cannot express. It is like… If I hadn’t seen the physician pull him out of my wife with my personal eyes, I’d never believe he was my son” (Hosseini 23). This tense father-son connection is an ongoing plight of Amir’s, but it sees a short-term yet drastic improvement after Amir wins the tournament. Kite fighting is aggressive, merciless, and the winners acquire a triumphant, honorable reputation as a result, this important cultural event aids Amir win Baba’s favor. Amir says that winning the competitors was “the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last” (66). The next part of the tournament, running for the kites, is also critical. Hassan runs the final blue kite for Amir, which Amir describes as his “key to Baba’s heart” (71). For a brief period of time following Amir’s triumphant win, Baba starts spending more time with Amir. As result of this cultural occasion, Amir’s connection with his father has a short-term improvement.

Kite fighting ends up destroying the friendship among Hassan and Amir. Amir asks Hassan to run for the blue kite to preserve as a trophy. Hassan smiles as departs, saying, “For you, a thousand times over!” (67). Amir foreshadows that the next time he will ever see “him smile unabashedly like that was twenty six years later, in a faded polaroid photograph” (67). Only a brief while later, Amir finds Hassan cornered by Assef and two other folks, who demand the kite. Hassan stands his ground, but Assef then beats him and rapes him for refusing to give up the kite. Amir watches from an alleyway, debating his choices, saying he had “One final opportunity to choose who I was going to be” (77). Amir chooses to run away rather of assisting Hassan, a decision that will haunt him for his complete life and sparks a chain of events that fully disrupts all the characters’ way of life. Amir knows the true explanation wasn’t fear, admitting, “Maybe Hassan was the value I had to spend, the lamb I had to slaughter, to win Baba” (77). This once more reverts back to the cultural significance of kite fighting and kite running as honorable, aggressive activities that Amir can use to win Baba’s approval. Winning the tournament was only half the battle, so Amir chose to get his opponent’s kite and winning Baba more than rather than saving his ideal buddy from a horrific rape. Amir is unable to live with the guilt, so he loses his friendship with Hassan and in the end frames Hassan for stealing, forcing Ali, Hassan’s father, and Hassan to leave and never be seen once again by Amir. This tension with Hassan, in turn, ruins Amir’s partnership with Baba as soon as again. Kite fighting is an critical cultural aspect of the book that Amir uses to win Baba’s favor but eventually ruins all of his relationships.

The importance of honor in Afghan culture influences the decisions of Amir and Baba. Honor is a fundamental value amongst Afghans that has transcended generations, like that of the characters in The Kite Runner. Baba shows a devotion to his honor, which comes hand-in-hand with his dignity and public perception. He does this in tiny techniques, such as returning government-issued food stamps when in America, which Amir says “alleviated one of his greatest fears, that an Afghan would see him getting food with charity money” (131). The book clearly shows that Afghan-Americans don’t stray far from their cultural roots, which includes a sense of honor. Honor plays a considerably much more substantial role in the plot Amir inflicted injury upon Hassan, and subsequently his personal livelihood, without the knowledge that Hassan was his half-brother. Baba had to shield the truth that he fathered Hassan since getting an extramarital affair is considered dishonorable in Afghan culture, as properly as a violation of Islamic principles. Even Baba says theft is the only sin, which includes stealing a man’s wife, but he does just that. Years later, Rahim Khan reflects on this by saying “It was a shameful scenario. People would speak. All that a man had back then, all that he was, was his honor, his name…” (223). Baba did not want to ruin his household name, nor lose his honored status in Kabul, by admitting he had an affair or illegitimate son.

The value of honor in Afghan culture is also emphasized in the complete method of Amir courting Soraya, the daughter of General Taheri. Honor manifests specifically in relationships amongst households. Soraya’s background story entails her running away to be with a man. She believes it is unfair that she makes a single mistake and “everyone is speaking nang [honor] and namoos [pride]” (164). Soraya feels she has dishonored her family, and she even asks Amir if he desires to go via with the marriage right after hearing her story. He admits that his pride, his “iftikhar” (165), was hurt by this. Amir, just like his father, holds honor in higher esteem. Baba warns Amir to be cautious when courting Soraya due to the fact General Taheri “is a Pashtun to the root. He has nang and namoos” (145). Basic Taheri naturally finds honor tremendously crucial as nicely, and he demonstrates this by warning Amir not to speak to Soraya in public. Sooner or later, when Amir wants to marry, he asks Baba to “go khastegari… ask General Taheri for his daughter’s hand” (161) which he stated earlier was the “honorable thing” (147). Until the wedding, Soraya and Amir in no way even went out alone, and the only reason they skipped the engagement period was simply because of Baba’s declining health. Their marriage was also a classic Afghan wedding with rituals like the Ayena Masshaf, when the bride and groom admire each other in the mirror. Honor, a centerpiece of Afghan culture, evidently guides the choices of all the Afghan characters in The Kite Runner.

Discrimination against Hazara men and women by the Pashtuns causes issues for Ali and Hassan. Hazaras are a big ethnic minority in Afghanistan, and they are stated to be descendants of the Mongol Genghis Khan. There are Asiatic attributes differentiate them from the Pashtun majority, and Hazaras are Shi’a Muslims, whilst Pashtuns are Sunni. Amir discusses Hassan’s ethnic variations proper away, but he admits he knows tiny about the Hazara individuals except that folks call them “mice-consuming, flatnosed, load-carrying donkeys” (9). Assef, the antagonist of the novel, tells Hassan that “Afghanistan is the land of the Pashtuns… the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here” (40). And even following his blatant insult, Hassan nonetheless refers to Assef as ‘Agha,’ a title of superiority. Amir notices this and asks himself what it should be like to live with “an ingrained sense of one’s spot in a hierarchy” (40). Amir, despite getting buddies and living with Hassan, still has his own biases. He calls Hassan an “illiterate Hazara” (34) right after Hassan identifies a plot hole in Amir’s story. Hassan and Ali are each tormented, degraded, and demeaned simply because of their ethnicity not only by strangers but by Amir. They are observed as inferior, and this complex attitude plays a main role in the most pivotal scene in the plot: Hassan’s rape and Amir’s inaction. Moments before raping Hassan, Assef tries to exploit Amir’s ethnic bias and the awkwardness of the arrangement amongst Amir and Hassan by asking, “Would he [Amir] do the exact same for you [Hassan]? Have you ever wondered why he in no way includes you in games when he has guests? Why he only plays with you when no a single else is around? I’ll inform you why, Hazara. Since to him, you are nothing but an ugly pet” (72). Later, soon after Amir fails to stop the rape, Amir says to himself, “He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?” (77). Amir justifies failing to intervene or stop Hassan’s rape with several issues. As discussed earlier, he says he was scared but admits his ulterior motive: winning Baba’s approval. In pondering deeper, though, he rationalizes his inaction by calling his ideal friend “just a Hazara,” something inherently inferior and therefore expendable. In the finish, Hassan is Amir’s servant, but he’s also Baba’s. Additionally, and unbeknownst to the kids, he is Baba’s other son.

Baba’s internal strife over his illegitimate son is partly caused by the Pashtun-Hazara ethnic divide. Amir and Hassan can not show their friendship in public. Right after winning the tournament, Amir and Hassan embrace one another but quit when they notice Baba motioning them to let go. Amir describes this, saying, “But he was doing something now, motioning with his hands in an urgent way. Then I understood. ‘Hassan we–‘ ‘I know,’ he stated, breaking our embrace” (66). Amir and Hassan are not supposed to publicly to show affection, friendliness, or brotherhood simply because, in their culture, it would be inappropriate for a Hazara servant to have such a close partnership with his Pashtun master. For the identical purpose, Baba can not show affection to Hassan, a Hazara, either. Nonetheless, he does so in subtle techniques, such as through gestures of kindness, purchasing Hassan gifts, or even paying for a hair-lip surgery. The partnership among Ali and Baba also demonstrates Baba’s inability to openly accept his Hazara son. Baba describes his childhood with Ali in a warm way but never refers to Ali as a pal. Ali points out that he was the “poor laborer” to Baba’s “mischief” (25). Baba is not supposed to befriend a Hazara, let alone have a Hazara son. Baba believed the cultural and social stigma connected with getting a Hazara son would ruin his reputation. Regardless of all this, he snaps at Amir for suggesting they get new servants, saying Hassan is their “family” and with them is “where he belongs” (90). Baba’s internal conflict, unbeknownst to Amir, is balancing fatherhood with the social stigmas of possessing an illegitimate, Hazara son.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini revolves about the robust Afghan culture. Social customs, religious tenants, family members tradition, personal honor, and even negative elements like racism and ethnic tension are elements of Afghan culture presented in the novel. Afghan culture is the driving force behind the plot and character’s decisions in The Kite Runner, as components of Afghan culture like kite fighting, honor, and an ethnic divide influence the relationships between characters, character’s choices, and the whole storyline. Afghan culture is deeply rooted in the Afghani folks, and, as the book demonstrates, neither political turmoil nor human exodus can strip the men and women of their beliefs, their culture, or their values.
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