“The Kite Runner”, by Khaled Hosseini, is an astounding novel that takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The theme primarily revolves around 'family and betrayal' with an additional plot of terrorism and war', which creates an enticing harmony captivating the readers. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Amir, the readers, explore Amir's childhood with Hassan in Afghanistan his married life with Soraya and Baba in San Francisco, and finally back to Kabul, Afghanistan on his quest for 'redemption' through Shorab.
- Amir- Amir is the main protagonist of the novel. He is a Sunni Muslim with pure blooded Pashtun ancestry.
- Baba- Amir’s father and the most powerful man in Kabul. Another purer blooded Pashtun with the nickname of Mr. Hurricane due to his brave and courageous image.
- Hassan- A Hazara and a Shi’a Muslim, often bullied by Sunni Muslims of Afghanistan. He grew up with Amir as his play mate. He’s Ali’s son and servant as his father.
- Ali- A Servant at Baba’s house and Hassan’s father. He has a crippled leg due to suffering from polio as a kid.
- Soraya- A Muslim girl who grew up in USA as Amir. She has a dark past and marries Amir.
- Rahim Khan- Baba’s close friend and advisor. A father figure to Amir. Informs Amir about Baba’s past and Shorab.
- Shorab- Hassan and Farzana’s son. Possesses his father’s good qualities and slingshot skills. Was abused by the Taliban in Afghanistan after his parents’ death. Adopted by Amir and Soraya at the end.
- Farid- Afghan taxi driver with poor living conditions. Helps Amir to rescue Shorab.
- Assef- Half German and half Afghan. Bullies Amir and Hassan as in their childhood. Becomes the leader of the Taliban after growing up.
The story begins in the year 2001, with an adult Amir looking over flying kites covered San Francisco sky. He recalls a call that he received from Rahim khan and recounts back to 1975 regarding a certain incident in an abandoned alley of Kabul that turned him into who he grew up as. The reader is then taken back to a flashback narrated by Amir. He recalls his house in Kabul where he lived with Baba and Hassan. Although Hassan and Ali lived in a servant quarter beside their actual house, Amir and Hassan grew up as brothers. Hassan is noted to have a cleft upper lip which stood out in his features other than the features of Hazara that differentiated him from the rest of the major Pashtun ethnicity residing in Afghanistan. Hassan loved Amir more than anything and even took all the blames for their mischief solely on himself.
Baba is a strict father to Amir who was a firm believer in Honesty. Baba hated thieves and Liars with a passion which made him raise Amir with a stern hand after his wife's death at Amir's birth. Amir both loved and feared his father, he viewed his father as a "force of nature" from whom he felt distant. Amir felt inferior to Hassan at times when he came to Baba's affection as he always felt as if he had to compete with his servant who seemed to get more recognition from his father.
One unfortunate day Amir and Hassan stumbled upon Assef and his two minions on their way home. Assef was a racist bully with knuckle brass who threatened to hurt Amir if he hangs out with Hassan. Assef was known for being a neurotic Psychopath who wanted to abolish Hazaras out of Afghanistan and even bullied the cripple-legged Ali in the streets.
Amir was rather timid scared to defend himself from bullies however Hassan stood up for both of them with his exceptional slingshot aim and managed to save both himself and Amir. The story progresses towards the end of winter during a kite tournament in Kabul. Amir wielded the kite while Hassan was responsible for catching the cut-off kite which marked Amir's Victory.
Amir was vastly excited to present Baba with the cut of Kite which was thought to be a souvenir of triumph back then, however, his happiness was cut short when he found Hassan being sexually assaulted by Assef and his two minions in an abandoned alley. Hassan was caught by them on his way back from retracting the Kite for Amir but it was snatched away from him by Assef who raped him in return for the Kite. Amir acted like a total coward and did not show himself to the abusers to save Hassan that day.
Hassan arrived back at the house and handed Amir his kite without uttering a single word. Ali who took notice of his son's state comforted him but didn't speak up. On the other hand, riddled with guilt Amir tries to get Hassan to punish him by hurting him. But, upon Hassan's refusal to do so he accuses Hassan of stealing his watch and gets Baba to send Ali and Hassan away to escape his guilt.
The story progresses further to 1981, during a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Baba and Amir escape to The United States as refugees. From then on Amir grows into an adult in California where Baba and Amir work at the local market during the day while Baba sells gas at night to make the ends meet.
Soraya is introduced shortly after in the story as Amir catches her with her parents Mr. and Mrs. Taheri at the local market selling fruits. Amir falls for Soraya at the first encounter and then they get married after Amir completes his education. Baba dies a few months after their wedding due to poor health conditions.
The story revolves back to Rahim khan's calls which request Amir's presence in Pakistan. Amir visits Rahim Khan in Pakistan where he finds him sick and on the verge of death. Rahim khan gives Amir a letter written by Hassan and reveals to him about Hassan is Amir's half-brother.
Hassan was Baba and Sanuabar's illegitimate child, Ali's ex-wife who took off with a bunch of dancing Hippies abandoning Hassan behind, who was later taken in by Ali under Baba's supervision. Amir felt insanely betrayed by his father and felt even more guilt for what he did to his half-brother. Rahim khan then reveals Hassan and Farzana, his wife's death at the hands of the Taliban in Kabul, and begs Amir to save Shorab, his only living nephew.
Next, Amir travels back to Kabul and searches for Shorab along with a noble-hearted taxi driver Farid who helps him throughout his journey. To Amir's absolute and utter horror he finds Shorab with Assef who grew up to join the Taliban. Disgustingly enough, Assef bought Shorab, the little boy from an orphanage to keep him satisfy his disgusting sexual urges.
Amir manages to rescue the boy from under Assef's clutches after a harsh and bloody fight. Later, he brings Shorab to San Francisco along with him and adopts him as their son. The novel ends with the scenario of Amir teaching Shorab how to fly a kite with a smiling Soraya by his side. Amir finally managed to redeem himself by giving Shorab the life Hassan never had as he promised his new son to catch the kite "a thousand times over".