3rd May 2018


I intend to write a literary essay discussing the topic on the kite runner by Khaled Hosseini and the focus being on narrative P.O.V, foreshadowing and symbolism to develop on the main character, Amir.ˇ

Discuss how the author uses language techniques to develop a main character in the novel, and how this character helps you understand one or more themes/ideas- guilt/redemption.

 In the novel, “the Kite Runner,” Khaled Hosseini incorporated many language techniques to enhance the depth of the story and its appeal to readers. A few of them being Narrative point of view, foreshadowing and symbolism. These features were manipulated to best convey the messages shown in the turning point if the film, leading up to it and afterwards. The turning point was the rape scene, positioned early on in the text and is the scene that defined the relationship between Amir and Hassan. The development of the main character, Amir, is shown throughout the text through these techniques, on his journey of redemption.

 The first language feature to define Amir as a person, his values and his development is narrative point of view. In the beginning, the story is narrated by Amir as a young boy, sheltered and naive. Because in 1970’s Kabul, Afghanistan, where the book is set and where Amir grew up, his family is considered wealthy and of good status(high cast) so the beginning of the war between the Afghans and the Russians and the rape scene changed his perception of how the world is. What was games and kites is now bombs and stolen lives. The narrative starts off as innocent and full of childhood life, as the storyline progresses the language and themes mature showing us how Amir has developed over time. ” I became what I am today at the age of 12.” Telling us that the rape scene is a burden he has carried for many years on his conscience, like a branding. First person gives the reader the opportunity to feel what Amir felt, to understand the sacrifices he made, trading his dignity and a lifelong friend for approval from his father. The use of this technique enhances the empathy invoked in the readers, they can relate to or feel sorry for Amir and other characters in the text. “…I realise I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last 26 years.” Said by Amir in the first introduction paragraph of the text, showing us how this incident, the rape scene, impacted his life. Along with this, Amir telling his own story, incorporating the larger representation of Afghanistans war and his own self doubts and mistakes makes the war feel more personal, the Taliban, the soviets and being an immigrant in a new country.

Secondly, Hosseini uses foreshadowing in the text to keep the storyline gripping and fast paced for the readers. Foreshadowing is a technique done by manipulating the written text to share details that may occur later on in the storyline such as a betrayal or death of a character. These hints are given through phrases and word choice, giving the reader the impression that something big may happen in the upcoming storyline, this is used to build momentum and expectation for a main event or scene in the text. ” Because that was the winter Hassan stopped smiling.” This line was said before the turning point, to suggest the nature of the incident and the affect it would have on Hassan and Amirs relationship. Also it uses irony to further the depth of the text, before the rape Hassan used to smile all the time despite his cleft lip, but now that Assef has hurt him and his lip has been fixed, he no longer smiles.” For you, a thousand times over,” this quote shows he contrast in the relationship between Amir and Hassan, before and after the rape scene. Hassan is loyal and forgiving even after the rape scene which is surprising, most people would not be so forgiving. The real shift in the relationship lays with Amir, when he looks into Hassans eyes all he sees is the monster inside himself and what lead him to abandon his friend like that. So instead of facing what he had done he removed Hassan from his life, what will later be one of his biggest regrets. ” There is a way to be good again.” This quote is in the text more than once and it is the quote that allows Amir to transcend from a guilty life to earning redemption for his wrongdoings. Rahim Khan said this to him, it meant a lot coming from him, an old friend of Babas.

  Lastly, Hosseini plays on the use of symbolism to show how Amir has developed through the story, changing himself to try escape his demons. Before the war Amir and Hassan were happy and naive boys, knowing little of the monsters hiding under afghani roofs and poisoning society with Taliban laws. Kites were flown for fun and friendly competition, the kites being a symbol of old Kabul and the freedom its people once had. And the later banning of the flying of kites in Kabul was the confiscation of freedom and the feeling of safety for anyone in Afghanistan. Later on, whenever Amir thinks back to the winter of 1975, kite running with Hassan was his best memory. The kite could also symbolise innocence, Hassan sacrificing himself and his innocence to help Amir keep his. Amir will always remember the decision he made that night, letting Hassan get raped just so he could get approval from Baba for winning the kite. He clearly regrets his decision and its consequences and wishes it had turned out differently. The rape scene could also be considered as a symbol in the story, representing the dream Hassan had. Hassan had a dream that there was a monster lurking, waiting to get him. Amir feels like the monster is deep inside him, full of hatred and envy. Because the dream was told in the chapters before the rape scene, it ties in the two techniques, symbolism and foreshadowing as well. ” Better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.” Amir went on with his life trying to ignore what he had done, but in the end he understood that the past would come out and he would have to repent for his sin. This line symbolises the inner battle that Amir and, most people deal with in their lifetime. Faced with the choice between telling the truth to yourself, accepting yourself and fixing your mistakes or living a lie to make yourself feel better.  “You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘liberating’ until you’ve done that, stood in a roomful of targets , let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, know you are virtuous, good, and decent. Knowing you’re doing God’s work. ” This was said by Assef, when he was a head Taliban officer. Assef plays the villan in this story, a murderer, rapist and an enforcer of Taliban law. Assef represents all the wrongdoing going on in Afghanistan and in the end he gets payback for what he has done. Amir, earns his redemption in the end, by saving Sohrab from living the life his father did. He risked his life to save him, something he should have done for Hassan in that alley all those years ago.

 In conclusion, Khaled Hosseini incorporated 3 main language techniques to convey the development of the main character, Amir. These were narrative point of view, foreshadowing and symbolism. All of these combined helped display the shift in the relationship between Amir and Hassan and Amirs development through out the text.

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About Tracey Hames

Teacher of English at Mount Aspiring College, Wanaka, New Zealand.

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