‘The Kite Runner’ depicts Afghanistan’s history as both troubling and beautiful

    When reading “The Kite Runner,” any preconceptions the reader may have about life in Afghanistan are knocked away and replaced by the true experiences of a native Afghani. In this book, Khaled Hosseini tells a story about a boy growing up in Afghanistan in the second half of the 20th century. The novel is narrated by a privileged young boy living in Kabul before the Russian invasion, and he depicts the country in a way one would not commonly imagine. Despite everyday prejudices and strict schooling, the boy loves his country’s traditions, food, friendly people and beautiful landscapes. Through the narrator, Afghanistan is portrayed as home: comforting, peaceful, pleasant. However, as the boy grows older, he witnesses an Afghani commit brutality against a countryman and is forced to come to terms with the severity of the religious intolerance that exists in his home country. Filled with discrimination, poverty, war and death, “The Kite Runner” evolves to tell a story so disturbing and so haunting that it seems almost unreal. The most shocking aspect of all, however, is that the book is historical, and this is precisely what makes it so important to read.

    More than just describing a foreign country and its struggle for stability and peace, “The Kite Runner” focuses on a friendship between a wealthy Sunni Muslim boy and his servant, a Shia Muslim, at a time when Sunnis are oppressing Shiites. The strong bond that exists between the two boys is constantly tried by the religious discrimination in Afghanistan. While the reader wants the friendship to overcome its obstacles, this is not that type of book. The protagonist is no hero. He does not do things that an everyday person could not do. He is fallible and even cruel at times. The reader watches him make serious mistakes, some almost unforgivable. Still, he is a likable character because he is human and not extraordinary as protagonists tend to be. The reader relates to his fears and views him as a real person, someone the reader might even know. The fact that the protagonist is so normal makes “The Kite Runner” a believable, engaging book.

    Throughout the tale, the narrator constantly refers back to a time when he was 12 years old and his whole life changed. The critical moment comes when the narrator does not help a loyal friend who is in a dangerous situation. The moment haunts the protagonist every day of his life, until he makes the choice to redeem himself 20 years later. The book then becomes a painful and shocking adventure story involving poverty, murder and confrontations with the Taliban government. In the end, the book tends to leave the reader with a feeling of both fulfillment and sadness.

    While Hosseini’s book is not difficult to read, it is difficult to endure. There are moments that may cause the reader to wince, cringe or cry, along with unpleasant surprises evoking shock and distress. However, as a respected character says in the book, “Sad stories make good books.” This could not be truer for “The Kite Runner.”

    Hosseini is not a “pretty” writer. His rhetoric is not poetic or flowery, and he does not overuse fancy adjectives or similes. His book is straightforward and to-the-point, making it feel as if the reader is listening to someone tell a story. “The Kite Runner” is important to read because it gives the reader further insight and understanding cancerning development of current events in the Middle East today. It portrays Afghanistan through the eyes of an Afghan-American who escaped the Russian invasion, witnessed the Taliban’s brutality firsthand, and was in the United States during the Sept. 11 attacks. Hosseini describes Afghanistan as a country filled with culture and ancient beauty. With the help of the narrator’s love for his home, Afghanistan becomes a place the reader grows to love as well.

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