What Role Does Religion Play in the Lives of Baba, Amir, and Assef, and in the Novel as a Whole?
The Kite Runner is a controversial narrative novel written by Khaled Hosseini – an author of the Afghan-American heritage. The story revolves around the life of Amir and is set throughout such events like the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan, the military intervention of the Soviet Union, mass departure of refugees to the U.S. and Pakistan, and the Taliban regime establishment. This narrative is known for its familial settings and clearly expressed father-son relationships, as well as for raising the themes of guilt, redemption and atonement. The story itself enables the reader to get a thorough insight into the daily life of the Afghani people and into their culture. Even though it is not the main theme of the novel, religion is always there, and its influence on the lives of the characters is vivid. Author approached the topic of religion from two sides – from the point of view of religious characters and from the point of view of those, who have their own understanding of religion, and, as a result, he was able to portray the process of Amir’s finding his own religion amongst these two sides.
Amir, who is as well a main protagonist, tells the entire story in The Kite Runner. The narration is set in such a ways that a reader starts to feel compassion towards Amir, but not because of his personality, but rather because of the events that he gets involved into. Therefore, one gets an insight of the importance of religion in the life of ordinary Afghani family first of all through the perception of Amir, and religion might seem to not be a major focus for him, but it is always present there. Since religion is an inalienable part of the Afghani culture, it is present in each aspect of the protagonist’s everyday life. Throughout the narrative, reader is able to see both positive and negative aspects of religion. In the story, the negative side of religion is expressed mainly through the fundamentalists who use religion beliefs as a tool to exert violence onto other people and to spread their control onto other people’s freedom (Hosseini, 2003).
The reader can also grasp the views towards religion from Baba – Amir’s father. He is a respected wealthy businessman. What is peculiar about him is that he is a freethinker, who always strives to do what is right and to think for oneself. What is more, Baba is not a supporter of the fundamentalism in the Islam religion, but he does have his own moral code that he follows throughout life and tries to raise Amir according to it. One of the first important episodes concerning religion in the lives of Amir and Baba is an occurrence when Ali, comes home from school and tells his father that he was taught that drinking alcohol is a sin. As a response, in order to teach Amir a lesson, his father pours himself a glass of whiskey (Hosseini, 2003). This scene is one of the many that contradistinguishes Baba and his views from the ones preached by mullah. Further, Baba tells his son “I see you’ve confused what you’re learning in school with actual education,” he then proceeds and calls the mullah and others like him ‘bearded idiots’, and tells Amir that it will be impossible for him to learn anything of value from them. Baba’s difference from the majority and his core attitude towards the fundamentalism in Islam is expressed in such a manner: “They do nothing but thumb their prayer beads and recite a book written in a tongue they don’t even understand,”… “God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands” (Hosseini, 2003). Afterwards, Baba tries to explain Amir that theft and all the variation that it has is the only real sin. Growing up with this kind of moral grounds, Amir gets confused and questions the existence of God. When the reader follows Amir through his childhood, it is possible for one to see that he was not a very religious child, but still he is able to develop a Muslim faith, yet with the solid moral grounds that his father had preached to him. Throughout his life, when Amir was in the need of comfort – after Baba’s CAT scan or when Sohrab tried to commit suicide – he turned to Allah, trying to find reassurance in the prayer (Hosseini, 2003).
It is impossible to detach the life of Amir’s family from the events happening in Afghanistan. Amir and his father were forced to leave the country and to immigrate to the U.S. There is no detailed description given by the narrator of the political events happening in Afghanistan, but the reader knows about the conflict that was continuing within the country after the Soviet troops left. When Amir narrates about the Taliban being in control of the country, the reader learns that the controlling group is using religion only for justifying the violence and authoritarianism (Hosseini, 2003). In the novel, there is Assef, a character who shows the reader the clear and vivid image of the Taliban. He was born into the Afghan-German family, and as the plot develops, it becomes clear that he possesses strong fundamentalist views on religion. It is obvious that Assef is the antagonist of the novel. Since childhood, he is portrayed to be a sociopath and a generally quarrelsome person. When he wanted to hurt Amir, he raped his closest friend Hassan, and he gave Amir Adolf Hitler’s biography as a birthday present. As he was growing up, his views on religion became stronger, even though they are usually contradicting with the main principles of Islam. Regardless of screening himself as a Muslim, Assef is a cruel racist, incapable of remorse, who is just using religion to justify his violent actions because he believes that the God is on his side (Hosseini, 2003).
The Kite Runner is a rather controversial literary piece that answers many questions, but rises even more. The reader follows the life of what might seem a typical Afghan family, but as the plot thickens, the things are more complicated than they seemed. Author raises many themes and religion, even though it is not clearly stated, is one of them. The reader can observe three views on religion – Baba’s free interpretation of what it really means to be a religious person; Amir’s confusion and ability to find his religion after all; and Assef’s radicalism that contrasts the religion as a whole.
Hosseini, K. (2003). The Kite Runner. Retrieved from http://www.bestlibrary.net/classics/The_Kite_Runner/
O’Rourke, M. (2005). Do I Really Have to Read The Kite Runner? Retrieved from
Wilson, C. (2005, April 19). ‘Kite Runner’ Catches the Wind. USA Today. Retrieved from
Khaled Hosseini, the author of the novel Kite Runner, shows his readers a gap between religion and morality and faith in his book. The protagonist Amir hesitates between the canon of Islam and the principles of his father Baba. This choice is a basis of his individuality and affects all his decisions. This Kite Runner essay is not only about influence of religion on a person’s life. The writer presents it as a powerful force that can change the destiny of the whole country together with its population. The essay includes strong argumentation that you may use for your own paper. Just don’t forget about citing!
If you see your life passing buy while you are hitting the books and trying to provide an excellent literary analysis essay, it is a strong reason to contact us. There is nothing wrong in asking for some help if your inspiration is away on vacation. Our essay writing service EssayShark is always ready to show you the way in the jungles of academic disciplines and assignments. Don’t worry about safety of payments: you pay only for completed parts of your order. Moreover, you can get a preview of your order for free!
Could the story of the novel exist without the class difference between Amir and Hassan? Make a case, using specific plot points and historical facts to ground your argument.
Examine the concept of circularity in the novel. What important cycles exist in the characters' lives and histories? How is circularity connected to redemption?
Explore the way in which courage is portrayed in the novel. What constitutes true bravery? What are the key moments when characters are brave and who is the bravest character, if any? Use specific examples from the text to support your argument.
Each character in the novel is shaped not only by his particular circumstances, but by the historical and political events that occur during his life. Consider Sohrab, the only character of his generation; how is he different from the other characters and how are these differences a function of what he has experienced?
Consider the idea of a homeland or "watan." How do you think the novel defines a homeland? Make sure to consider the opinions of Farid and Assef. Also, consider this question in terms of Amir and Sohrab, two characters who leave Afghanistan when they are still growing up.
Even though countless events occur in the novel, the title refers to kite fighting and kite running. What do these activities represent in the novel and why are they so important? To whom or what does the title, "The Kite Runner," refer?
Examine what it means to be American in the novel. How do different characters see America and is there one perspective that comes across most definitively? Some characters you may want to consider: Amir, Baba, General Taheri, Omar Faisal, Farid.
Think about the fathers in the novel. According to the novel, what does it mean to be a father? How can one measure one's success at fathering? Some characters to consider: Baba, Ali, Amir, Hassan, General Taheri, Farid, Wahid, Raymond Andrews.
"Like father, like son." "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." "Monkey see, monkey do." Use one of these cliches as a starting point to consider the way characters in the story behave. Characters to consider: Amir, Hassan, Assef, Baba, Sohrab, Rahim Khan.
Make a list of instances in the novel where someone is forgiven. What constitutes true forgiveness? Why is forgiveness so important? You may want to consider moments between Hassan and Amir, Baba and Hassan, Hassan and Sanaubar, Amir and Sohrab, General Taheri and Soraya, and Amir and himself.
Think about acts of violence in the novel individually and as a whole. Why is violence so essential to the story? Could the story occur without so much violence? Using your answer from the previous question, explain what you think Hosseini is using violence to say. You may want to consider: Hassan's rape, Sohrab's rape, the stonings at Ghazi Stadium, Assef and Amir's fight, Sohrab's suicide attempt, the story of Kamal and his father, Hassan and Farzana's murders, Sanaubar's appearance at the house, and the activity of kite fighting.