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The Kite Runner Chapter Summary & Analysis - Chapters 1 through 3 Summary

Khaled Hosseini
This Study Guide consists of approximately 55 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Kite Runner.
This section contains 1,199 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)

Summary

Chapter 1

This chapter begins in December of 2001. Amir recalls the exact moment that was to forever shape his destiny. He says he was twelve and crouched in an alley, and that he has never been able to fully bury that day in his past. He now lives in San Francisco and he ends a phone call and takes a walk, noting the kites in the air at Golden Gate Park. Amir sits and thinks back on his past and the day that made him into the man he is now.

Chapter 2

In Chapter 2, Amir and Hassan are children together. They spend time playing as young boys did in this time in their Afghanistan home of Kabul. Hassan has a harelip and is teased unmercifully by the other children. Hassan’s father, Ali, chastises the boys when he catches them at mischief and Hassan never reveals that the mischief is always Amir’s idea. Amir and his father, who he calls Baba, live in a nice house in a wealthy neighborhood. Hassan and Ali, servants of the household, live in mud huts in the back. Baba’s best friend and business partner is Rahim Khan. Hassan is one year younger than Amir. Amir’s mother died in childbirth. Hassan’s mother, Sanaubar, ran away a week after his birth. Hassan never mentions his mother but a midwife said Sanaubar had taken one look at Hassan’s cleft lip and declared him an idiot to match Ali.

Chapter 3

Amir says his father had once wrestled a black bear. He says the story might have been put down to the tendency of the Afghan people to exaggerate but the fact that it was Baba means the story is true. In the late 1960s, Baba builds an orphanage, financing and overseeing the entire project.

One day Amir comes home from school after having been told by a teacher that drinking is a horrible sin. He relates that to his father who is having a glass of whisky. Baba tells Amir that there is only one serious sin – theft. He says there are versions of that sin, such a lying because that robs someone of the truth, and murder because that robs someone of life. Baba says the teachers are “bearded monkeys” and that Amir will not get a true education from them. Baba then says that “if there’s a God out there,” He has better things to do than to worry about someone who drinks liquor.

Amir says he knows his father is disappointed in him. Baba often ignores Amir’s conversations. Once Amir says he has cancer and Baba tells him to get a soda. Amir believes Baba hates him on some level because Baba’s beautiful wife died in childbirth giving life to Amir. Amir says he is nothing like his father and prefers the written word to the pursuits Baba enjoys, such as hunting. One day, Amir hears Baba talking with Rahim Khan. Baba says there’s “something missing” in Amir. Rahim Khan says Baba doesn’t get to make Amir into what he want and that there’s nothing wrong with Amir. He says all that’s missing in Amir is “a mean streak.” Baba says doesn’t stand up for himself when the neighborhood boys pick on him, letting Hassan defend him. Baba predicts Amir will become “a man who can’t stand up to anything." The following morning, Hassan is preparing Amir’s breakfast and asks what’s wrong. Amir snaps at Hassan and realizes he’s being mean, though Rahim Khan had said Amir doesn’t have what it takes to be mean.

Analysis

The time flow is chronological except for the first chapter. This chapter takes place in 2001 and the author then drops back in time to the 1970s and the story moves forward from there to 2001. There is a great deal of foreshadowing in this first chapter, which is very brief. Several characters are mentioned though it will be several chapters before the reader meets some of them. It should be noted that the story is written entirely in first person from Amir’s perspective which means the reader may get some skewed information. Amir seems to judge himself harshly in some situations though the reader learns that it’s because Amir failed to stand up for Hassan in a moment that was vital to both of them. From Amir’s perspective looking back almost three decades, he judges himself based on that failure though that failure hasn’t even yet happened as Chapter 2 opens.

Rahim Khan is introduced only briefly in Chapter 2, but his importance as a character is hinted even in this brief introduction. Amir describes many aspects of the house including a photograph of Amir as a baby with his father and Rahim Khan. Amir says that his father is holding him “but” Amir is clutching Rahim’s finger.

There is some discussion of Sanaubar and Ali and how their marriage happened. Sanaubar is a beautiful young woman. Ali had polio as a child and he has a “twisted, atrophied” leg that makes his walk a subject for unkind people to ridicule. Apparently, even Sanaubar joined in the tormenting. Ali is a kind man who withstands the taunts without obviously reacting. Some people believe that Ali agreed to marry Sanaubar because her family lack respect and it was hoped that he, as an honorable man, might help in that regard. Sanaubar attracts a great deal of male attention. It’s only much later that this information takes on another level of interest. Amir eventually learns that he and Hassan are half brothers. There’s no indication how Baba and Sanaubar came together or whether Ali knows, but it seems possible that Ali is impotent because of the polio. There’s also no indication why Sanaubar leaves but it may have been that she’s unhappy living in the little hut in the back while her lover and the father of her son is living in a mansion.

There is a deep connection between the two boys from birth. They are fed by the same wet nurse and Amir says his father reminded him often that a bond of that kind cannot be ignored or broken. Amir also says that his first word was “Baba,” referring to his father. Hassan’s first word was “Amir.”

Amir’s relationship with Baba is also described in the opening pages. He desperately wants Baba’s love and attention. On the rare moments when they connect, Amir is elated though it always ends badly, at least in his opinion. It’s also noteworthy that Amir is jealous of his father’s time. He occasionally lies, saying Hassan can’t join them on an outing so that he’ll have his father to himself.

Discussion Question 1

What is the moment Amir says defines the rest of his life?

Discussion Question 2

What are Amir's and Hassan's first words? What does this indicate about the boys' devotion to each other?

Discussion Question 3

What happend to Amir's mother? What happened to Hassan's mother?

Vocabulary

Chiseled, appendage, unatoned, affluent, unscrupulous, sallow, congenital, garrulous, veracity, opportune, atrophied, havoc.

This section contains 1,199 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Copyrights
The Kite Runner from BookRags. (c) 2013 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.
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