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Role of First Impression in The Kite Runner Novel

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Summer Essay

Professionals have long asserted that people make up their minds about people for the first time within two minutes. Others claim that these first impressions about people take only thirty seconds to make. As it turns out, both maybe underestimates. According to Malcolm Gladwell, the decisions may occur much faster, in just two seconds. In the book “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, the influence of first impressions can directly affect a person’s decision and will takes its effect almost instantaneously.

The first and most direct attraction that happened in “The Kite Runner” was the meeting between Amir and Soraya; Amir was instantly drawn to the young lady. “She was standing behind us, a slim-hipped beauty with velvety coal black hair, an open thermos and Styrofoam cup in her hand. I blinked, my heart quickening. She had thick black eyebrows that touched in the middle like the arched wings of a flying bird, and the gracefully hooked nose of a princess from old Persia…….Her eyes, walnut brown and shaded by fanned lashes, met mine. Held for a moment. Flew away.” (Pg. 140) Amir gathered so much information from the few seconds he was able to gaze at Soraya, and has already developed feelings for her. However, it is impossible for him to explain to Baba the first impression that Soraya has left him; He unconsciously felt that Soraya was the right one.

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The power of first impression also had a huge impact on Amir when he finally met Sohrab, son of Hassan. “The boy had his father’s round moon face, his pointy stub of a chin, his twisted, seashell ears, and the same slight frame….His head was shaved, his eyes darkened with mascara, and his cheeks glowed with an unnatural red.”(Pg.279) The first impression of Sohrab was breathtaking and disorientating because he resembled Hassan like a clone. Amir instantly recognizes Sohrab as Hassan’s son with all his features. His unconscious reaction that recognized Sohrab did not just come out of nowhere. His memory and experience enabled him to interpret what lied behind the first impression that came from Sohrab.

Amir himself also left a powerful first impression on Farid, the driver that Rahim Khan introduced. “Farid threw me a cold glance. There was no empathy in his eyes…Farid gave me another dismissive look, this one with a hint of barely suppressed animosity.”(Pg.229) Amir’s Americanized accent and style had already introduced hostility between the two. Farid feels that Amir, born into an affluent family, has always been a visitor of Afghanistan since birth. However, after learning that Amir came to the dangerous Kabul just to look for a Hazara boy, Farid has changed his attitude towards Amir from dismissive to respectful. This instance is where the first impression leads people astray. Those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that spontaneously arise whenever people meet a new person had given Farid a negative view of Amir since the beginning.

The influence of first impressions is particularly strong in “The Kite Runner”. It is has caused instant affection, recognition, and hostility between the characters. A powerful tool in making decisions, the unconscious mind takes memories and past experiences into account and puts them in use. Even though it may sometimes lead us astray, the power of first impression does affect our unconscious thought process both powerfully and immediately.


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