HISTORY 1973-- July 17th: Zahir Shah is on vacation in Europe, when his government is overthrown in a military coup headed by Daoud Khan and PDPA (Afghan Communist Party). Daoud Khan abolishes the monarchy, declares himself President---Republic of Afghanistan is established. 1974-- UNESCO names Herat as one of the first cities to be designated as a part of the worlds cultural heritage. 1975--1977-- Daoud Khan presents a new constitution. Women's rights confirmed. Daoud starts to oust suspected opponents from his government. 1978-- Bloody Communist coup: Daoud is killed, Taraki is named President, and Karmal becomes his deputy Prime Minister. Tensions rise. Mass arrests, tortures, and arrests takes place. Afghan flag is changed. Taraki signs treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union. June--Afghan guerrilla (Mujahideen) movement is born.
HISTORY. 1979-- Mass killings US ambassador killed Taraki is killed and Hafizullah Amin takes the Presidency. Amin is executed, and he is replaced with Babrak Karmal. Soviet Union (Russia) invade in December. 1980-- Dr. Najibullah is brought back from USSR to run the secret police. 1984-- UN sends investigators to Afghanistan to examine reported human rights violations. 1986-- Babrak Karmal is replaced by Dr. Najibullah. 1987-- Najibullah proposes ceasefire, but the Mujahideen refuse to deal with a "puppet government". Mujahideen make great gains, defeat of Soviets eminent.
HISTORY 1988--1989-- Peace accords signed in Geneva. Soviet Union defeated by Afghanistan, total withdrawal by the Soviets occurred on Feb. 15, 1989. Experts agree that at least 40,000-50,000 Soviets lost their lives in action, besides the wounded, suicides, and murders. Mujahideen continue to fight against Najibullah's regime. May--Afghan guerrillas elect Sibhhatullah Mojadidi as head of their government-in-exile. 1992-- April 15--The Mujahideen take Kabul and liberate Afghanistan, Najibullah is protected by UN. The Mujahideen form an Islamic State--Islamic Jihad Council--elections. Iranian and Pakistani interference increases--more fighting-- Professor Burhannudin Rabbani is elected President. 1994-- The Taliban militia are born, and advance rapidly against the Rabbani government. Dostum and Hekmatyar continued to clash against Rabbani's government, and as a result Kabul is reduced to rubble. 1995-- Massive gains by the Taliban. Increased Pakistani and Iranian interference. 1996-- June--Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of Hezbi-Islami, having been eliminated as a military power, signs a peace pact with Rabbani, and returns to Kabul to rule as prime minister. September 27--Taliban militia force President Rabbani and his government out of Kabul. After the capture of Kabul, the Taliban execute Najibullah. Alliance between Government, Hezbi Wahdat, and Dostum Oppression of women by the Taliban--women must be fully veiled, no longer allowed to work, go out alone or even wear white socks. Men are forced to grow beards. Buzkashi, the Afghan national sport is outlawed. Tensions rise as Afghan government accuse Pakistan of aiding the Taliban. Massive human rights violations by the Taliban.
HISTORY 1997-- Mass graves of Taliban soldiers containing between 1,500 and 2,000 bodies are found. The men were believed to have been captured in May by general Abdul Malik during the Taliban's brief takeover of Mazar-i-Sharif. 1998-- February--Earthquake strikes in northeastern Afghansitan, killing over 4,000 people, destroying villages and leaving thousands of people homeless. August--Taliban finally capture Mazar-i-Sharif, and massacre thousands of innocent civilians afterwards, mostly Hazaras. August 20th--United States launches cruise missiles hitting Afghanistan's Khost region. US states its intent was to destroy so called terrorist bases/training facilities used by Osama bin Laden and his followers. Some Afghan civilians are also killed. September--Tensions rise between Iran and the Taliban. Iranians are angry about the killing of their diplomats and a journalist by the Taliban when they captured Mazar-i-Sharif. Soon they deploy 70,000 troops to carry out military exercises near the Afghan border. In the end, no fighting occurs between the Taliban and the Iranian army. 1999-- February--Earthquake hits eastern Afghanistan, affecting over 30,000 people, and killing at least 60 to 70 people. September--The ex-king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir Shah, calls for a grand assembly, or Loya Jirga to discuss ways of bringing peace to the country. The United Front soon welcomes the idea, but the Taliban ridicule Mohammad Zahir Shah's attempts at establishing peace. October-- UN Security Council Resolution 1267 is adopted; sanctions against the Taliban on grounds that they offered sanctuary to Osama bin Ladin. 2000-- May--Taliban torture and kill civilians in the Robatak Pass (on the border between Baghlan and Samangan provinces). September--Taloqan finally falls to the Taliban. December-- UN Security Council Resolution 1333 is adopted; additional sanctions against the Taliban for their continuing support of terrorism and cultivation of narcotics, etc.
HISTORY 2001-- January--Taliban torture and kill numerous civilians (Hazaras) in Yakaolang. March--Despite pleas and requests from various international diplomats, Islamic scholars, the Taliban destroy ancient historical statues in the Kabul Museum, historical sites in Ghazni, and blow up the giant Bamiyan Buddhas from the 5th century. World expresses outrage and disgust against the Taliban action. April--Ahmad Shah Masood visits Europe to gather support against the Taliban. April--UN accuses Pakistan of not allowing adequate supply of food and medicines to displaced Afghans, at the Jalozai camp, near Peshawar. April-- Mullah Rabbani, the Taliban's second-in-command dies of liver cancer. May-- Taliban order religious minorities to wear tags identifying themselves as non-Muslims. September 9-- Ahmad Shah Masood is killed by assassins posing as journalists. Two days later (September 11th), suicide attacks on the U.S. kill more than 3,000 people and destroy the two towers of the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon. October-- Abdul Haq is killed by the Taliban. The United States and UK working with the forces of the United Front (UNIFSA) launch air strikes against the Taliban. ( The Americans hold Osama bin Laden directly responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center, and the Taliban were targeted for protecting him.) November: Taliban lose control of Mazar-i Sharif. December 5-- Bonn Agreement. Afghan political groups come together in Bonn, Germany and form an interim government. Hamid Karzai is chosen as Chairman. 2002-- April-- Former King Mohammad Zahir returns to Afghanistan (April) -- does not claim throne. War continues against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. June-- Loya Jirga elects Hamid Karzai as President of a Transitional Government. Karzai picks members of his administration to serve until elections are held in 2004 July-- Haji Abdul Qadir (brother of Abdul Haq) is killed. US air raid in Uruzgan province kills approximately 48 civilians, many of them members of a wedding party 2003-- War against Al Qaeda and the Taliban continue -- further weakened. August - NATO takes control of security in Kabul.
HISTORY 2004 October/November - Presidential elections are finally held after being delayed twice. Hamid Karzai is declared the winner, with 55.4% of the votes. He is sworn in December. Karzai's strongest challenger, Yunis Qanuni, came in second with 16.3% of the votes. The elections were not without controversy; allegations of fraud and ballot stuffing were brought up by many of the presidential candidates including Yunis Qanuni. Many felt that Hamid Karzai had an unfair advantage over the other candidates as he had access to financial and logistical resources that many of the other candidates did not have. A panel of international experts was setup to investigate the matter. The panel did find evidence of voting irregularities, however, they said that it was not enough to affect the outcome of the elections. 2005-- Harsh winter leaves hundreds of people dead. Major advances in the disarmament process announced. March-- Dostum appointed as the Chief of Staff to the Commander of the Armed Forces. Yunis Qanuni announces new political alliance (March 31st). April-- Karzai welcomes the formation of Qanuni's political alliance.
Structure 1 – 9 Afghanistan 10 Pakistan and escape 11 – 13 transition, adjusting to America 14 old life comes back to haunt
CHAPTER 1 DECEMBER 2001 (38) ‘I became what I am today at the age of twelve.’ (1975) Semantics: –Cold –Frigid –Frozen Slow, sombre, detached writing ‘It was my past of unatoned sins.’ symbol: kite ‘Hassan the harelipped kite runner.’ The whole story is revealed but concealed in one page of tight prose. ‘there is a way to be good again.’ Chapter ends ‘And made me what I am today.’ – returns to beginning.
CHAPTER 2 The story begins: ‘When we were children’ – echoes two kites in Ch 1. side by side. The scene is set – Hassan follows Amir obediently and loyally, unquestioning. Ali/Hassan = Shi’a Muslims – Hazara Baba/Amir = Sunni Muslims – Pashtun P4 – old Afghanistan = affluence v poverty The end of each chapter is vital – Amir’s first word was Baba; Hassan’s first word was Amir ‘the foundation …… was already laid in those first words.’
CHAPTER 3 Allusions to religion – Mullah (at school) preaches against alcohol but Baba drinks. He builds orphanage – foreshadows end of novel when Amir raises funds for hospital and rescues Sohrab from orphanage/Assef Baba says worst sin is theft – all else is a variety of theft Mother lecturer in poetry – Amir a writer (p20) Hassan stands up for Amir who won’t fight for himself – motif throughout novel – backing down until the big fight (p14) ‘my father moulded the world around him.’
CHAPTER 4 1933 – the story begins – Ali is orphaned and brought into Baba’s family the year he is born (Ali is 5); brought up together like Hassan and Amir. (p22) ‘in none of his stories did Baba ever refer to Ali as his friend’ ‘my entire childhood seems like one long lazy summer day with Hassan.’ Hassan gets everything ready for Amir to go to school and get education. Hassan is illiterate – Baba is not much of a father! Amir reads to Hassan and begins to tell his own stories – he uses it as an opportunity to tease him (p27) 1973 Amir presents first story to father who is not interested but Rahim Khan (another surrogate father!) is. ‘As always it was Rahim Khan who rescued me.’ (p30) ‘Suddenly Afghanistan changed forever.’
CHAPTER 5 1973 – opens with gunshots and explosions – end of Zahir Shah’s reign (40 yrs) P33 – Assef Wali Kamal – German mother and Afghan father – Nazi ideals – savage – believes Afghan should be for Pashtuns. Fair skin and blue eyes P36 Amir denies Hassan ‘He’s not my friend.’ ‘He’s my servant.’ Assef threatens Amir; Hassan protects him with a slingshot and threatens to take out Assef’s eye – this foregrounds Sohrab actually taking out his eye with a slingshot later in the novel P37 Assef warns ‘this doesn’t end today’ 1974 Hassan has his hare lip corrected by surgery – why so long after the event?
CHAPTER 6 Winter = kites ‘Flying kites. And running them.’ ‘Kites were the one paper-thin slice of intersection between those spheres.’ (Baba and Amir) Made their own for a while then Baba bought them the best. Amir is the kite fighter; Hassan the runner ‘Hassan was by far the greatest kite runner I’d ever seen.’ P47 Amir is teasing Hassan and sees his face change – for a second he sees two faces but he does not recognise the familiar glimpse he gets of this other face – it is Baba we think.
CHAPTER 7 1975 – Hassan’s dream p52 – lake – monster – Amir dives in – Hassan follows. Who is the monster? Assef? P53 ‘The streets glistened with fresh snow and the sky was a blameless blue/’ P55 ‘Next to me Hassan held the spool, his hands already bloodied by the string.’ (reversal at end of novel, Amir has bloodied hands for Sohrab) P58 ‘You won, Amir agha.’ ‘We won! We won!’ ‘For you a thousand times over.’ – Amir says to Sohrab at end of book, echoing Hassan’s words to him. Amir gets his redemption through patiently waiting on Hassan’s son and taking a beating for him. P62 THE ALLEY That winter Amir becomes what he is. What is that? Coward? Deserter? Judas? Or just a little boy who is scared?
CHAPTER 7 Assef, Wali and Kamal trap Hassan in the alley, he wants the kite for Amir; they want revenge. P63/64 ‘Before you sacrifice yourself for him, think about this. Would he do the same for you?’ ‘I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost.’ ‘I just watched. Paralyzed.’ ‘I bit on my fist. Shut my eyes.’ Amir trades Hassan for the kite.
CHAPTER 8 1976 Hassan stays out of sight; Amir lies about what happened. Amir and Baba are going to Jalalabad alone but Baba invites lots of people. Baba boasts about the kite fight. Amir is car sick ‘That was the night I became an insomniac.’ P77 ‘Hassan milled about the periphery of my life after that.’ Amir wants nothing to do with him. ‘When he was around, oxygen seeped out of the room Big birthday party for Amir. Assef gives him a biography of Hitler. Baba gives him watch. Rahim Khan gives him notebook for his writing. Rahim tells him of his thwarted love for Hazara girl. ‘In the end the world always wins.’
CHAPTER 8 KEY SECTIONS P73 -5 car sickness/ insomnia P77 headache P78 conversation with Baba P80-81 incident with pomegranate P86 Rahim’s story Physical suffering mirrors emotional turmoil; like punishment
CHAPTER 9 1976 – doesn’t want his presents ‘blood money’ Plants money and watch in Hassan’s bed (years later he puts money under Walid’s son’s mattress as thanks for hospitality – all his bad acts turn to good by end) ‘This was Hassan’s final sacrifice for me.’ no one tells truth even though Ali and Hassan both know. Refuse to stay when Baba asks them. ‘I loved him in that moment, loved him more then than I’d ever loved anyone.’
CHAPTER 10 1981 leaving Kabul to go to Jalalabad then Peshawar Leave everything behind so Russians don’t know they are going Baba protects woman from guard – is saved by Russian officer End up in cellar with other people because there is no truck Kamal is there (foregrounds Sohrab) he has been raped and does not speak They are offered a fuel truck to escape in Amir panics and Baba tells him to think of something happy – he thinks of kite and Hassan ‘Our twin shadows dance on the rippling grass.’ P108 Kamal dies in truck then his father shoots himself
CHAPTER 11 1980s California (sunshine/big hair/money) Baba becomes a Republican Culture clash – Baba wrecks store because owner won’t take cheque – in Afghanistan they used stick as credit card P112 ‘For me, America was a place to bury my memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his.’ P114 Amir graduates High School and Baba creates a party for him. ‘I wish Hassan had been with us today.’ ‘A pair of steel hands closed around my windpipe.’ Baba starts buying and selling junk. He buys a bus. P121 meet General Sahib and Soraya.
CHAPTER 12 Long chapter covers over a year. ‘Yelda’ is a starless night when lovers keep vigil. Amir has countless yelda waiting for Soraya. A year later he finally talks to her Soraya wants to be a teacher and taught a servant to read (Amir mocked Hassan) General disapproves – why? P134 Baba is ill – cancer, inoperable; it metastasises to brain –all the Afghans come to pay respect and Amir sees how much good Baba has done again. ‘I thought of all the empty spaces Baba would leave behind when he was gone.’ Soraya agrees to marry Amir
CHAPTER 13 P145 the wedding is pushed forward so Baba can live for it. P151 Baba dies; endless mourners arrive with stories of his goodness and generosity. P159 summer of 1988 Amir finishes first novel P160 ‘I wanted to be just like Baba and I wanted to be nothing like him’ Soraya and Amir try for baby but nothing happens ‘Maybe this was my punishment.’
CHAPTER 14 2001 (13 years barren – his age when he abandoned Hassan) P167 Narrative returns to page 1, with some additions: ‘I sat on a park bench, watched a man throw a football to his son’ Foregrounding of man and son flying kites (red and blue) Marriage is hollow without a baby
CHAPTER 15 Amir returns to Pakistan. Rahim Khan is ill. (he has written four novels now) Rahim Khan fills in gaps in Afghan history for reader and Amir Talibans ousted Russians, seemed like saviours; Hassan lived with Rahim for a while after Ali died stepping on a landmine
Discuss the different narrative techniques in chap 15 in pairs and be ready to feedback in 7 minutes. ‘then a thing made of skin and bones pretending to be Rahim Khan opened the door’
Rahim Khan Amir is very hard on himself – Rahim sees him differently – ‘you’ve always thought too highly of me, Rahim Khan’- ‘and you’ve always been too hard on yourself’ p194 ‘I’d always thought of him as Baba’s quiet alter ego, my writing mentor, my pal’ p85 ‘The first grown up I had ever thought of as a friend’ p167
CHAPTER 16 Rahim Khan narrates 1986 found Hassan when Baba died. Tall, dark with pregnant wife Farzana. Hassan asks about Amir. Won’t live in house, live in servants’ quarters. Baby girl is still born Hassan can read 1990 pregnant again – Soraya realises she is barren P184 Hassan’s mother Sanaubar turns up and stays with them. Son is born Sohrab P186 he becomes deadly with the slingshot 1996 Taliban ban kite fighting 1998 Taliban massacre Hazaras
CHAPTER 16 How does the narrative voice change? Style? Discuss and feedback.
CHAPTER 17 Back to Amir narrator Letter from Hassan with photo of self and son Sohrab tells him pomegranate tree is now barren hopes to see him ‘You will find an old faithful friend waiting for you.’ Literacy – what is significant about Hassan becoming literate and teaching his son to read and write? Letter to Amir? Power of written word?
CHAPTER 17 Taliban interrogated Hassan and shot him in the back of the head; Farzana attacks them they shoot her too. Sohrab is in orphanage ‘I want you to go to Kabul. I want you to bring Sohrab here.’ ‘Why me? Why can’t you pay someone here to go? I’ll pay for it if it’s only a matter of money.’
CHAPTER 17 The topics of secrets and family lies comes to a climax in this chapter. ‘Why me? Why can’t you pay someone here to go? I’ll pay for it if it’s only a matter of money.’ P194 ‘A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. I wonder is that what you’ve become?’ Baba was Hassan’s father too; Ali was sterile. ‘I’m 38 years old and I’ve just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie.’
CHAPTER 17 P192 – narrative technique when Amir hears about Hassan’s death ‘Rahim Khan had summoned me here to atone not just for my sins but for Baba’s too’
CHAPTER 18 P196 both he and Baba betrayed Hassan. P199 ‘Hassan had loved me once….. A little part of him lived on. It was in Kabul. Waiting.’ Short sentences show processing information, not able to articulate more eloquently.
CHAPTER 19 P200 still car sick. Farid the driver is very cold to him. P203 he is back in Afghanistan. Farid despises him for being a rich Afghan who ran away ‘You’ve always been a tourist here, you just didn’t know it.’ (204) Never knew life for common people. They spend the night with Wahid, Farid’s brother and his family. The boys go without food to feed the guest. P212 Amir gives them watch and then leaves money the next day. Recalls his framing Hassan – making amends. P210 Amir dreams of Hassan’s death, he is holding the gun.
CHAPTER 20 Shock of ruined Kabul ‘rubble and beggars’ Beard patrol Beggar – knew his mother, was a lecturer Sohrab is no longer at orphanage, has been sold to Taliban officer
CHAPTER 21 P227 sees old house, occupied by Taliban Finds tree – no fruit P231 hotel room has blood on the walls P233 – Sharia law – adulterers are stoned to death at football stadium; the officer is the one with Sohrab; eyes hidden behind glasses Meet him at 3.30
CHAPTER 22 P241 Assef’s house. P248 – first recognition P244 brings Sohrab and makes him dance Amir finally speaks up and decries Assef’s behaviour ‘I had crossed a line.’ P249 Sohrab’s eyes are like sheep about to be slaughtered; like Hassan in alley Tension – action switches to hospital and we don’t know what has happened; he tells doctor, ‘I think I gave him a good fight.’ in reality he says, ‘I don’t know if I gave him a good fight.’
Chapter 22 ‘Getting thrown against the wall.’ ‘Getting hurled against the wall.’ ‘choking on my own teeth.’ ‘Getting hurled against the wall.’ - lying on the floor ‘The sound of my ribs snapping.’ ‘That snapping sound again.’ (cheek) ‘That snapping sound yet again, now my nose.’ ‘for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace.’ Sohrab begs Assef to stop and then fells him with his slingshot taking out his eye as his father threatened to so many years before. David takes Goliath.
CHAPTER 23 They escape to Pakistan – Peshawar; lots of questions. Lots of medicals. P259 blow to mouth has cut lip in two; it has been stitched; he will always have a scar like Hassan Rahim Khan has gone away to die. Sohrab and Amir play cards and Sohrab says his father said Amir was the best friend he ever had. The orphanage in Pakistan does not exist.
CHAPTER 24 Islamabad p271- Sohrab disappears When he finds him, Amir tells him that he and Hassan were brothers. Things go awry – can’t adopt, no death certificate – he tells Sohrab he may have to leave him in orphanage then apply to adopt him. Soraya finds a better way for him to come as refugee but too late; Amir finds him in bath – we don’t know what or how yet.
CHAPTER 25 P303 Sohrab had slit his wrists over broken promise. Amir had promised he would never have to go back to orphanage. P310 ‘How long before he trusted me. If ever.’ ‘almost a year would pass before I would hear Sohrab speak another word.’ P311 Afghans always want to know end of film; Americans don’t. ‘Was there happiness at the end?’ P312 room decorated with kite bedding P314 Amir stands up to General and tells him how to talk of Sohrab P316 – Twin Towers 11 Sept 2001 P317 helps with funding for hospital in Rawalpindi – like Baba and orphanage
CHAPTER 25 P321 Amir launches the kite because Sohrab won’t. ‘The kite was lifting behind my shoulder now, lifting, wheeling.’ ‘suddenly I was twelve again.’ Sohrab follows and takes the string. P322 ‘he was still just a child.’ P323 Amir cuts the green kite and runs for it. Sohrab smiles, ‘Lopsided. Hardly there. But there.’ ‘For you a thousand times over.’ ‘I ran. A grown man running with a swarm of screaming children.’ ‘I ran.’