The Kite Runner is the first novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini which was published on May 29, 2003. Briefly, the story depicts the relationship between two friends, Amir who is someone who belongs to the upper-class and Pashtun and Hassan who is their servant’s lower-class son and a Hazara, and the tragic story behind their friendship. Besides that, we can see the father-son relationship, and Soviet invasion, Taliban rule, Afghan immigrants and the suffering of Afghan natives. The novel became a bestseller after selling over seven million copies in the United States. Today being the anniversary of the publishing date of this influential work by Khaled Hosseini, I am going to analyze the novel from a Marxist point of view to better understand the this book that goes beyond a simple narrative.
In the opening scene, we see Amir as an immigrant, filled with guilt, who flees to the United States because of the Soviet invasion. The main story however, dates back to 26 years earlier in his life when he was living in Afghanistan and is told in a flashback. As a child, Amir lived in Afghanistan with his father, Baba and their two servants, Ali and his son Hassan. Ali and Hassan are marginalized Hazaras, the ethnic minority in society, however, Baba and Amir are Pashtun, Sunni Muslims and a dominant part of the society. Although Hazaras are inferior to Pashtuns and are treated inhumanly by them, Amir and Hassan are very close friends despite their different ethnic groups, they grew up together and shared the same woman’s milk when they were babies.
In Afghan culture, there are several competitions, one of them is the kite running competition we see in the novel. As readers, we observe the hegemony which describes the dominance of a group over others through that kite running competition since Hassan is the victim of racism throughout the work because of his belief. In the kite running, we see the antagonist character Assef who is half Pashtun and half German. He is a violent figure in the novel, who is constantly attacking Hazaras, and even Amir because he is friends with a Hazara. He threatens Amir by saying that he will beat him. During the tournament, Hassan who is a kite runner, is raped by Assef, but Amir does nothing to save his friend. At the end of the novel, Assef beats Amir for betraying their culture as well, which makes him a symbol of dominant class oppression. The class system is seen throughout the novel; for example, Baba makes fun of Ibrahim since he sacrifices a sheep in the Eid-e-Qorban. Although they live with Hazaras, Baba and Amir don’t understand the idea of being marginalized until they immigrate to the US because of the Soviet invasion, and begin to face the same problems. In the novel, we don’t observe as many examples of Amir and Baba’s dehumanization however, Amir gives the reader some hints about their situation.
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