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The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Foreshadowing

Main ideas Foreshadowing

Hosseini uses foreshadowing repeatedly in The Kite Runner. Because the novel is narrated by an older Amir reflecting on his life, the foreshadowed events serve to connect Amir’s childhood to his adulthood.

Amir and Hassan’s Relation

When Amir and Hassan are children, Hassan’s favorite story is “Rostam and Sohrab,” foreshadowing his blood relation to Amir. In the tragic tale, the warrior Rostam kills his enemy Sohrab in battle, but then learns that Sohrab is his long-lost son. As he reads the story aloud, Amir marvels at the “tears pooled” in Hassan’s eyes, wondering which character Hassan grieves the most. The boys’ engagement with this story foreshadows how years later, Amir will learn that Hassan was his half-brother the whole time. Like Rostam and Sohrab, this realization comes too late, as Hassan is already dead.

Amir and Hassan’s brotherhood is also foreshadowed by the favor Baba shows Hassan. Growing up, Amir becomes jealous of the attention Hassan receives from Baba, often excluding Hassan so that he can have time with Baba all to himself. Baba treats Hassan with an affection Amir craves, going as far as gifting Hassan with cleft lip surgery for his birthday, which Amir later finds out is because Baba “could not love Hassan the way he longed to, openly, and as a father.” When Amir asks Baba if he has ever considered replacing Hassan and Ali, Baba’s fury at the idea indicates that Hassan is much more than the son of his servant; Hassan is actually his own son.

One-Eyed Assef

In childhood, Hassan threatens to shoot Assef in the eye with his slingshot, foreshadowing how Sohrab will one day fulfill his father’s threat. Assef also foreshadows the future of their animosity—and ultimately his confrontation with Amir and Sohrab—when he angrily claims “this doesn’t end today.” In the same way that Hassan wields his weapon to defend Amir, Sohrab saves Amir’s life with his perfectly timed shot at Assef. Sohrab’s slingshot prowess solidifies the notion that Sohrab is an extension of Hassan’s character, suggesting that Amir’s efforts to rescue Sohrab could repair his relationship with the deceased Hassan.