Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snow Mountains of Kabul (Photo made by: Joe Bu...Image via Wikipedia

Part I

Amir, a well-to-do Pashtun boy, and Hassan, a Hazara who is the son of Ali, Amir's father's servant, spend their days in the then peaceful city of Kabul, kite fighting and roaming through the streets. Amir’s father, a wealthy merchant, who Amir affectionately refers to as Baba, loves both the boys, but seems critical of Amir for not being manly enough. Amir secretly believes his father blames him for his mother’s death during childbirth. However, he has a kinder father figure in the form of Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend, who understands Amir better, and is supportive of his interest in writing. Amir tells us that his first word was 'Baba' and Hassan's "Amir,' suggesting that Amir looked up most to Baba, while Hassan looked up to Amir.
Assef, a notorious sociopath and violent older boy with sadistic tendencies, mocks Amir for socializing with a Hazara, which is, according to Assef, an inferior race that should only live in Hazarajat. He prepares to attack Amir with brass knuckles, but Hassan bravely stands up to him, threatening to shoot out Assef's left eye with his slingshot. Assef and his posse back off, but Assef threatens revenge.

Hassan is a successful "kite runner" for Amir, knowing where the kite will land without even watching it. One triumphant day, Amir wins the local tournament, and finally Baba's praise. Hassan runs for the last cut kite, a great trophy, saying to Amir, "For you, a thousand times over." Unfortunately, Hassan runs into Assef and his two friends. Hassan refuses to give up Amir's kite. Amir searches for Hassan but hides when he hears Assef's voice. Assef decides to teach Hassan a lesson by raping him. Amir witnesses the act but is too scared to intervene, and returns home ashamed, guilty for not being able to help his best friend. He feels that his cowardice in Hassan's rape would destroy any hopes for Baba's affections, so he says nothing. Afterwards, Hassan and Amir keep a distance from each other. Amir reacts indifferently because he feels ashamed, and is frustrated by Hassan's saint-like behavior. Already jealous of Baba's love for Hassan, he worries that if Baba knew of Hassan's bravery and his own cowardice, that Baba's love for Hassan would grow even more.
Amir, filled with guilt on his birthday, cannot enjoy his gifts.[2] The only present that does not feel like "blood" money is the notebook to write his stories in given to him by Rahim Khan, his father's friend and the only one Amir felt really understood him.

Amir felt that life would be easier if Hassan was not around, so he planted a watch and some money from his birthday party under Hassan's mattress in hopes that Baba would force him to leave; Hassan falsely confesses when confronted by Baba about the watch and the money. Baba forgives him, despite the fact that, as he explained earlier, he believes that "there is no act more wretched than stealing." Hassan and his father Ali, to Baba's extreme sorrow, leave anyway. Hassan's departure frees Amir of the daily reminder of his cowardice and betrayal, but he still lives in their shadow and his guilt.

Part II and Part 111

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