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The Kite Runner - Chapters 18 through 21 Summary & Analysis

Khaled Hosseini
This Study Guide consists of approximately 41 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Kite Runner.
This section contains 923 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)

Summary

Chapter 18

Amir spends some time wishing Rahim Khan hadn’t called him and that he’d continued his life in America without knowing what happened to Hassan. But he announces he will go find Sohrab and instructs Rahim Khan to call the Caldwells, the couple who have agreed to accept Sohrab once he’s out of Afghanistan.

Chapter 19

Amir is paired up with a man named Farid who will provide transportation and guidance on his quest to find Sohrab. They spend a night at Farid’s house and Amir eats a meal. Farid’s sons stare at him and he gives them his watch only to discover later that there hadn’t been enough food in the house for his meal and for the children. He leaves money under a mattress, knowing they would not accept it from him otherwise.

Chapter 20

They arrive in Amir’s neighborhood and he’s appalled at the devastation. In a chance encounter, Amir meets a former teacher who is now a homeless beggar. The man remembers Amir’s mother and says she’d confided in him that she was “profoundly happy,” so much so that she was afraid something would be taken from her. Amir has to leave but realizes this old man has given him more information about his mother than his father ever did.

They arrive at an orphanage where they believe Sohrab is living. At first, the director claims to know nothing about Sohrab but eventually admits that he’s been taken captive by a Taliban soldier who periodically demands a child as “payment” for the safety of the orphanage as a whole. Sohrab has been gone for a month. He tells them how to find the man who took Sohrab.

Chapter 21

Amir asks Farid to drive through his old neighborhood, and they stop at his house. He stays until Farid reminds him they are in danger by being there. Then, he goes to a hotel where he rents a room for an incredibly high price. He starts to argue but realizes the man isn’t being greedy – he’s simply trying to feed his family. They go the next day to the soccer game where the orphanage director tells them they’ll find the man who took Sohrab. The soldier, who Amir later discovers is Assef, appears at halftime and stones a man and woman to death. Farid tells one of the Taliban soldiers that he and Amir want a meeting with the soldier in charge of the stoning. Amir is surprised when he’s told where to go at three o’clock that same day.

Analysis

Hassan spends a great deal of time berating himself for not realizing there was more to the connection between Baba and Hassan than mere affection. He recalls all the hints that might have led him to the right conclusion but he doesn’t seem to consider that Baba wouldn’t have likely admitted to the kinship even if Amir had confronted him about it.

Hassan doesn’t want to go to Afghanistan to retrieve Sohrab and it seems to be mostly guilt that drives him to it. He admits that if he hadn’t driven Hassan from their home when they were young, Baba might have taken Hassan and Ali with them when they fled for America. If that had happened, Hassan might have had an opportunity for a full life rather than being killed in the streets for trying to protect the property of a father who wouldn’t even publicly claim him.

The relationship between Farid and Amir is off to a rocky start and it’s obvious Farid has no use for Amir. Farid actually thinks Amir is a spoiled tourist and he’s somewhat embarrassed when he discovers Amir is searching for a boy. Farid seems like a tough man but he obviously has a soft spot for the children in his life.

The man who runs the orphanage indicates that he willingly gives the soldier one child each time the soldier demands it. This makes Amir furious and he jumps on the man, apparently intending to do bodily harm. When the scuffle is over, the man says he has given up his life, his money, and his chance to leave the country to work at this orphanage. He says there is no financial support, which means there is no way to feed the children. The soldier who takes a child is not making a request, but issuing a demand. If the director refuses, the man takes as many children as he wants. If the director gives in, the soldier gives him money. The director says he then takes the money to the market and buys food for the children who remain. While he’s obviously upset about the situation, he says he’s made his peace with his god and that he’s ready to stand in judgment for his decision.

Discussion Question 1

What does Amir learn about his mother from the beggar on the street? How does that compare to the memories his father has shared about Amir's mother?

Discussion Question 2

Chapter 21 ends with the knowledge that Amir is to see the military man the following day. Is this a good use of foreshadowing? Are there other examples of foreshadowing in the text?

Discussion Question 3

What is Amir's reaction to the information he receives from Rahim Khan? Why do you believe he reacts in this manner?

Vocabulary

Sultry, cranny, disoriented, smothers, swathed, oblivion, impregnated, morosely, commodity, succulent.

This section contains 923 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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