Summary: Chapter 6
For boys in Kabul, winter is the best time of year. The schools close for the icy season, and boys spend this time flying kites. Baba takes Amir and Hassan to buy kites from an old blind man who makes the best in the city. The highlight of the winter is the annual kite-fighting tournament, when boys battle kites by covering the strings in broken glass. When a string is cut, the losing kite flies loose, and boys called kite runners chase the kite across the city until it falls. The last fallen kite of the tournament is a trophy of honor. Hassan is the best kite runner in Kabul, and seems to know exactly where a kite will land before it comes down.
Summary: Chapter 7
In the winter of that year, 1975, the tournament is held in Amir’s neighborhood. Usually each neighborhood has its own competition, but the nearby districts will compete together this time. A few days before the tournament, Baba casually tells Amir he may win. An overwhelming desire to win seizes Amir as Amir thinks this will earn him Baba’s approval. The day of the competition comes. The tournament lasts all day, and Amir is doing well. He can see Baba sitting on a rooftop, watching. Eventually all that remain are Amir’s kite and one other, a blue kite. They battle and Amir wins, sending the blue kite flying loose. Amir and Hassan cheer and hug, but Amir sees Baba motioning for them to separate. Hassan vows to bring the kite back for Amir and sets off.
Amir reels in his kite and accepts everyone’s congratulations, then goes looking for Hassan, asking neighbors if they saw him. One old merchant asks Amir what he is doing looking for a Hazara. Amir replies that the Hazara is the son of his father’s servant. The old man looks at him distrustfully, but finally tells Amir he saw the Hazara going south. He adds that the boys chasing him have probably caught him by now. Amir searches the neighborhood until he comes to an alleyway. Hassan has the blue kite, and he is surrounded by Assef and the two other boys that are always with him, Kamal and Wali. Amir watches from around the corner. Assef tells Hassan they will let him go only if he hands over the kite. Hassan refuses. He ran the kite fairly, and it belongs to Amir. Assef says Amir would not be as loyal to him, an ugly pet Hazara. Hassan is not shaken. He says he and Amir are friends. Assef and the other boys charge Hassan. Amir almost says something, but ultimately he only watches.
Amir remembers something. He and Hassan fed from the same breast, that of a Hazara woman named Sakina. He recalls going to a fortune teller with Hassan. They each give the fortune teller money. The man looks at Hassan. After a moment he puts the money back in Hassan’s hand. Then Amir thinks of a dream: he is lost in a snowstorm until a familiar shape appears before him. Suddenly the snow is gone. The sky is blue and filled with kites. Amir looks down the alley where Assef and the others have Hassan pinned to the ground without his pants. Wali says his father believes what they are considering doing to Hassan is sinful, but Assef says he is only a Hazara. The boys refuse, but agree to hold Hassan down. Assef raises Hassan’s bare rear end into the air and takes down his own pants. Amir debates doing something, but instead runs away. Fifteen minutes later Amir sees Hassan coming toward him. He pretends he was looking for Hassan, who is crying and bleeding. He hands Amir the kite and neither boy speaks about what happened. When they arrive home, Baba hugs Amir, who presses his face into Baba’s chest and weeps.
Many of the tensions that have been building till now, such as the treatment of Hazaras by Pashtuns, Amir’s desperation to please his father, and the question of whether he can stand up for what is right, come together in the events of this section. The central event is Hassan’s rape, and it will be the catalyst that propels the rest of the novel forward. This event is the source of the guilt Amir feels as an adult, and it is why why the image of the alleyway, the place where Hassan was raped while he stood by and watched, stays with him. Hassan, we are led to infer, is the kite runner of the book’s title, and Amir tells us the story both as a confession and an act of penance. He wants to atone for his sins, and in fact atonement will become a major theme. Two other important themes also converge in the single image of Amir struggling with the decision to intervene while Assef, a rich Pashtun boy with a powerful father, rapes Hassan, a poor Hazara. This image conveys the challenge and importance of doing what is right, and the rape of Afghanistan’s powerless by those who have power.
In terms of Amir’s character growth, his desperation to please his father, which we have witnessed throughout the story, plays a significant part in the causing the events of the section. Although Amir feels paralyzed by fear when he sees what is happening, he admits that his main reason for not intervening is selfish. When Baba was a boy, he won the kite-fighting tournament. Though Amir had always done well in the competition, even making it to the final three once, he had never won. To finally please Baba, Amir feels he must show Baba he is like him by winning the tournament and bringing home the kite of his final opponent. Only then will Baba forgive Amir for killing the woman who was Baba’s wife and Amir’s mother. Amir does not stop Assef from raping Hassan first and foremost because he wants the kite to bring to Baba, and Hassan is the price he has to pay.
Textual Analysis of The Kite Runner, chapter 7 (answers)
1. a) How does Hosseini’s word choice in the opening paragraph create an unsettling mood on the morning of the kite tournament?
The final sentence in the opening paragraph creates the unsettling mood as it tells us that there is a ‘monster’ in the lake and that it has been swimming at the bottom, ‘waiting’. The idea that there is a monster is already unsettling as we see these as something disturbing and not to be trusted. It is a malevolent being. It is made worse by the point that the monster is ‘waiting’. There is a sense that it is lurking there, biding its time before it launches an attack or take some innocent.
b) Show how this mood changes in the telling of the rest of the dream.
The mood changes from unsettled to happy and exultant. The word choice demonstrates this – we read the people are ‘clapping’ for Amir and Hassan telling us they are applauded for their actions and therefore revered. The idea of them being revered and celebrated is also suggested in the name-change for the lake, it becomes the ‘Lake of Amir and Hassan, Sultans’. Here they are viewed as heroes and their actions catapults them to the highest rank in the land of ruler.
c) How does this dream mirror a later event in the chapter?
In the dream Amir and Hassan work together to prove there is no monster in the lake and are applauded by the adoring crowd. In the kite tournament, Amir and Hassan win, and are congratulated by the tournament audience. The monster however, comes to represent Assef. He is the lurking danger in the two boys life and although he shouldn’t really be a problem he is the thing that splits the two boys up.
2. Comment on the significance of the description of the snow covered scene on p. 57 in terms of later events. Look closely at word choice and imagery.
The snow in this scene is significant because it comes to represent purity and innocence. We are told that everything ‘glistened with fresh snow’ and that it was a ‘blinding white’. The snow should be seen to represent Hassan. The alliteration of the ‘blameless blue’ drags your attention to the odd word choice. The word choice suggests an event is going to happen for which someone should have taken responsibility. We know this event will be Amir’s betrayal of Hassan.
Building on this Amir notes that Ali “always said a prayer when his son left the house” – Ali knows Hassan is in permanent danger of discrimination because he is a Hazara. It is important that this is mentioned now. It gives a sense of foreboding to the chapter.
Both of these phrases are at odds with the purity image, suggesting something bad is going to happen.
3. Explain how the writer conveys the thrill of kite flying on p. 60
The section on kite flying conveys how thrilling it is in several ways. First of all Amir says a prayer – ‘koran ayat’ – before he plays. This is like a charm to protect himself. A series of similes are used to reinforce the thrill of kite-flying. He says the players are like Olympic athletes showing their gold medals. This suggests that they have gone through a tough competition to get where they are and suggests feelings of victory. The kites are also described as “paper sharks roaming for prey”, this makes it sound like the game they are playing is deadly and dangerous, again ramping up the sense of adrenaline. The last simile is that the kites looked “like shooting stars”. This tells us how beautiful they were to watch.
4. Show how sentence structure helps to reinforce how focused Amir is on winning both the tournament and his father’s approval on p. 61
There are a series of short sentences used which demonstrate Amir’s focus like ‘the blue kite’. His thoughts are becoming very centred on winning. In particular he tells us and convinces himself that “I was going to win”. A colon is used to add information that the competition is near an end point and that now there is only two of them left.
Parenthesis also adds that all Amir was thinking about was winning.
The use of ‘I’ and ‘me’ at the start of sentences demonstrates Amir is aware of only himself and the tournament.
5. Study Hosseini’s description of Amir’s ‘out of body experience’ on p. 62. How does this momentary pause motivate Amir into action?
This pause allows Amir to see what he needs to do. He can see himself and he smiles at himself which pushes him onto victory.
6. Comment on the effectiveness of the structure of the sentence beginning “and that right there was the single greatest moment…” p. 63
A list is used to build up a sense of Amir’s emotions. The sentence begins with the conjunction ‘and’ which tags it on to the rest of the paragraph and emphasises that this is a separate but linked point which expresses this is the happiest Amir had been up until that point. The placement of “at last” at the end of the sentence emphasises just how long Amir had been waiting for Baba’s approval.
7. What is the significance of Hassan’s final word to Amir on p.63
Hassan’s final words to Amir are “for you a thousand times over” shows the extent of Hassan’s devotion to Amir. Also becomes a motif throughout the novel of one’s devotion to another.
8. In light of later events, how do these words seem poignant?
Hassan refuses to give up the kite, proving he meant what he said. Amir’s loyalty to Hassan does not work like this though as he betrays Hassan by not stepping forward.
9. How do word choice and sentence structure reinforce Amir’s buoyant mood in the first paragraph on p. 64?
colon – to expand on how he plans the scene in his head
One word sentences – places a great deal of importance on these things. This shows how much Amir wants them from his father.
Rhetorical questions – Amir doesn’t know what else will happen. He has not planned beyond that point of celebration.
Elipses – a moments pause whilst Amir and the reader envision the scene.
“warrior”, “hero” – word choice, victorious champions of violence .
“prized trophy” – treasured reward for which one worked hard
“bloodied hands” – pride in his wounds, which prove his might
“worthiness” – deserving of his father’s attention.
“grand entrance” – dramatic scene
“Rostram and Sohrab” – pictures a happy ending to the tale, over the sad.
Vindication, salvation, redemption. – everything will be fine now