Literary Devices In The Kite Runner

Introduction to “The Kite Runner”

Published in 2003, The Kite Runner is the debut novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul. The tale is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through Soviet military intervention, the mass exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime.

While growing up in the Kabul of the early 1970s and coping with an often distant but caring father, Amir’s dearest friend Hassan is a young Hazara who is the son of Ali, his father Baba’s longtime servant. Themes of guilt, redemption, cruelty and the power of friendship dominate the first half of the story that follows Amir into adulthood decades later.

Considered one of the most famous English-language Afghan novels, The Kite Runner became a beloved bestseller around the world soon after its publication. Its appraisal of the Afghan immigrant experience, evocative content exploring history and the meaning of home, and timeless coming-of-age narrative earned considerable critical acclaim.

Summary of “The Kite Runner”

Best friends and kite-flying competitors Amir and Hassan spend their boyhood happily in the same household. But Amir is continuously tortured by his father’s perception of his amoral behavior and cowardice. On the gloriously triumphant day Amir wins the local kite-fighting tournament, a shocking tragedy befalls Hassan that Amir powerlessly witnesses yet refuses to intervene in. Meanwhile, the political turmoil of Afghanistan in the late 1970s leads to Baba and Amir fleeing to America as refugees.

After establishing a successful life in California, Amir’s adult days are still tormented by guilt over his past relationship with Hassan. Finally redeeming himself by returning to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan nearly three decades later, Amir risks his life to right his moral wrongs of inaction as a young man. A crippled Hassan emerges briefly before finally meeting his fate, imparting lessons of forgiveness and hope in the power of redemption for new generations that symbolizes Afghanistan’s own rebuilding process.

Themes in “The Kite Runner”

  • The redemptive power of loyalty and sacrifice in relationships
  • The lingering trauma of childhood experiences and guilt over immoral inactions
  • The quest for forgiveness, personal redemption and life’s renewal
  • The destructive and regenerative forces of violence, both personal and political
  • The importance of personal courage and conviction even in the face of injustice
  • The privileges, dividedness and conflicts inherent in Afghan class, ethnic and religious identities

Writing Style of “The Kite Runner”

Hosseini employs a mostly straightforward narrative style with simple yet evocative language. Short, direct sentences populate the prose:

“Hassan never denied me anything.”

This clarity allows the imagery and storytelling to shine:

“The sky was a goldfish bowl painted in streaks of red and yellow, rimmed by the purple haze of the mountains.”

Occasional poetic flourishes raise the emotional stakes:

“The alleyway crouched like a tiger in the city…”

The aural richness of Dari, Farsi and Pashto words texture the diction, while some incorporated Afghan names and terms add cultural specificity. The narrator’s first-person perspective lends immediacy and intimacy to the unfolding tale. Amir’s confessional reminiscing allows for deep psychological insight into the characters and events being recounted. Overall Hosseini prizes dramatic clarity, emotional authenticity and a simple wisdom in crafting his poignant narrative style.

Characters in “the kite runner”

  • Amir is the main character and narrator. Through first-person storytelling, we get glimpses into his complicated thoughts and emotions. Amir often feels guilt over past mistakes and regrets not taking action at critical moments when he was young. His inner conflicts drive much of the narrative.
  • Hassan is Amir’s closest friend growing up. He has an incredibly forgiving and selfless nature which contrasts with Amir’s lingering guilt. Hassan almost takes on the role of a martyr or Christ-like figure, sacrificing himself for the sake of others. His character represents the power of unconditional love and redemption.
  • Baba is Amir’s father, who casts a strong authoritative presence over Amir’s upbringing. Baba has high expectations and Amir struggles to live up to them, causing him to feel insecure. Baba is described as proud and commanding in his bearing, from his posture to his beard. His powerful persona awes and intimidates the more sensitive Amir.
  • Rahim Khan is a friend of Baba’s who seems to understand Amir in ways his own father does not. He mentors Amir with patience and empathy. Where Baba is forceful, Rahim Khan is gentle. His calm, nurturing nature is conveyed through descriptions of his tranquil voice and soothing laugh. He provides comfort to Amir when needed.

Literary Devices in “The Kite Runner”

1- Symbolism

Kites, kite flying, and the vivid descriptions centered around this Afghan tradition carry tremendous symbolic weight as emblems of childhood, freedom, competition and the fragility of life:

“Baba readied the spool for another run. He stood at the center of the makeshift wrestling arena, like a jockey tightening the cinch on a wild pony.”

In this excerpt, the Baba is getting ready for the kite fight. It shows that he is in the middle of a wrestling ring getting set for a big challenge. The part where the writer says that “he’s like a jockey tightening the cinch on a wild pony”, it shows that he is really good at handling tough situations just like someone who can ride a wild horse. This makes the readers think that Baba is strong and knows what he is doing. Even when the things get hard. It is a way of showing that what kind of person Baba is, without just telling the readers directly.

2- Motif

The recurrence of particular images help shape key motifs, like the symbolic pomegranate tree, allusions to mythological stories, and the idea of a peaceable “paradise” amidst violence:

“Where did it all go so wrong? There were good reasons this side of heaven.”

There were good reasons on this side of heaven; “this side of heaven” was a recurring theme. A motif is a feature found repeatedly in a tale. It’s used to talk about people down on earth have a good reason or purposes behind their actions though sometimes things don’t come to a good end. It is like when I carefully do my homework, in search of a good grade but sometimes it turns out not as good as I believed. This sentence reflects that whatever the intentions are, it will not get all worked out at the end and makes us think about the difference between what we want and what really happens.

3- Allusion

Religious and poetic allusions amplify the mythic significance of events, as when Hosseini references the classic Persian epic The Shahnameh:

“Hassan’s name was a famous one in Wazir Akbar Khan, for his great-great grandfather had been a companion of King Nadir Shah.”

It tells about Hassan’s great-great-grandfather, who was a courtier serving under King Nadir Shah. The author employs a real allusion to historical events and characters by adding this detail concerning Hassan’s ancestor. Specifically, King Nadir Shah was a famous Persian ruler back in the 1700s. His loyal followers were known to be his “companions.” Thus, the great accomplishment, therefore, that Hassan’s great-great grandfather had of keeping company with this powerful king of the past brings honor and notoriety to Hassan’s name in his neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan. So much is signified in one sentence; the informed reader who knows who King Nadir Shah was will get the import. This allusion thus relates Hassan’s present-tense story to much older myths of actual Afghan royalty. The writer doesn’t need to describe who Nadir Shah was, or why Hassan might be proud of his great-great grandfather’s status. The mere reference is embued with deeper meaning and context.

4- Repetition

The stylistic use of repetition adds emotional impact and reinforces important ideas, especially when addressing religious and ethical themes:

“There is a way to be good again.”

5- Simile

Vivid similes further animate the imagery while underscoring deeper thematic associations, as when Hassan smiles like “the sun had just come out”:

“The kid laughed, jubilant, so happily that he might have been covered not in dirt, blood, and snot but, rather, gold dust.”

This excerpt uses a simile to describe how joyfully the kid was laughing. The happiness of the kid was an overpowering feeling depicted through the use of a simile likening it to that of being covered with gold dust. Even though this kid was spattered really bad with awful things like dirt and blood. His laugh was so thrilled and ecstatic as if he was simply spilling over with something as splendid as gold dust. The simile paints the laughter of the boy so happy, overwhelming, and victorious – as if struck gold. Emotions are compared to some material, though precious in the form of gold dust, which makes one visualize and be in the kid’s shoes in the moment of his pure delight and success.

6- Foreshadowing

Important plot points are often richly foreshadowed, hinting at significant future events:

“All night, I lifted the curtain and scoped the yard, listening to Hassan’s labored breathing, his anguished moans.”

This excerpt contains foreshadowing about something bad that has happened to the character Hassan. The narrator was checking the yard all night and listening to Hassan’s difficult breathing and painful moaning sounds. This shows Hassan is hurt in some way that is serious enough to keep the narrator worriedly checking on him. The words “labored breathing” and “anguished moans” are ominous clues that Hassan may be gravely injured. The narrator also seems anxious as they keep peeking out at the yard, which builds suspense for the reader wondering what danger might have occurred there.

7- Extended Metaphor

Powerful extended metaphors develop throughout the novel, increasing the complexity of meaning-making:

“A pair of red sandal ribbons danced in the wind, sashaying between two sugar cane poles.”

Hosseini’s imaginative and emotive literary style brings depth and resonance to this moving story. His craftsmanship elevates the novel’s heartfelt vision into an epic literary experience.

Literary Devices In The Kite Runner
Literary Devices In The Kite Runner

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