The Kite Runner is a novel written by Khaled Hosseini. The text follows the main character Amir as he tries to navigate his way to redemption for mistakes he has made in his past. The text is set in both Afghanistan, at differing points in time, and America. The text looks at the concept of afghan diaspora post-soviet occupation and shows an idea of the life and experiences of Afghan immigrants and the ties they hold to their past and culture. It also gives a context to the Afghan history and ties this idea with the afghan culture from an afghan perspective.
The idea of the afghan culture is looked at in the text with an emphasis on its importance towards the people, in different ways and stages dependent on circumstance. In the earlier chapters of the text, during Amirs childhood, the reader is exposed to culturally significant events, such as the Kite flying tournaments and the Eid Al Qurban religious holiday. In both these events, there is an idea of togetherness and a connection and bond formed between the communities through these shared events. The kite flying tournaments take place between all the surrounding areas. The community holds a certain level of respect and value in this tournament. The sacrifice of the lamb during the Eid al Qurban by Amir’s father is also significant as he has given the impression of someone who isn’t religious (quote) yet he respects the custom of sacrificing the lamb. This ties together religion and culture in the society, but also reflects the value of these traditions which people such as baba follow despite how ridiculous they find it to be.
This idea is furthered later in the text. Once Amir and his father have moved to America, they show a strong connection to their culture and community as is shown through the afghan markets, Amir’s marriage, and Soraya’s past. The marriage of Amir and Soraya reflects the more traditionalist and conservative ideas of the culture. Their relationship is at first secret from Soraya’s father as this type of relationship can be seen as inappropriate in the culture unless it were to lead to a marriage. When their relationship evolves Baba must seek Soraya’s hand for Amir in a custom known as Khost Gari. The wedding is rushed due to Baba’s cancer, but it involves lavish and expensive parties. This also ties into Soraya’s past. In the afghan society it is clear that there is a traditional idea surrounding relationships and marriage, as is shown through Amir and Soraya’s relationship. The fact that Soraya had been in a previous relationship at 18 when she ran away with a boyfriend is a point of significance in the text. Soraya’s mother has a certain affection for Amir which is largely due to him being a good suitor for her daughter as she is said to fear she would never find but is what she wants as would any mother for her daughter. Soraya’s father’s response upon finding out about the relationship also reflects the traditionalism of the culture. The fact that he threatens to kill himself speaks to the value of status in the community and how the relationship would impact the status of the family.
The text also sheds light on the history of Afghanistan from the perspective of someone who lived there. The history occurs in the background and is delivered as a plot device rather than as a history lesson. The first introduction to history is the “bloodless coup” of King Zahir Shah by his brother Daoud Khan. This event occurs in line with changing points in Amir’s life.