What happened to Hassan in the alley?

When Hassan refuses to hand over the kite he ran for Amir, Assef pins Hassan to the ground and rapes him. While Hassan’s rape is in many ways the center of the entire novel, the word “rape” appears only once. Amir says—in the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping—that he watched Hassan’s rape, but no one is awake to hear his confession. Amir realizes this secret he must carry is his “new curse,” and spends the rest of the novel struggling with his moral failure.

Why does Rahim Khan lie about the American couple?

In order to save both Sohrab and Amir, Rahim Khan lies to Amir about the Caldwells, a supposed American couple, who will take care of Sohrab if Amir can get him out of Kabul. Later, Amir learns the Caldwells never existed. Rahim Khan summons Amir to Afghanistan to atone for his betrayal of Hassan, and knows that Amir cannot be trusted to rescue Sohrab unless he believes someone else will take over the responsibility.

What is the significance of Ali’s first wife?

Rahim Khan tells Amir that Ali’s first wife was never able to conceive a child with Ali, but became pregnant multiple times once she remarried. This statement proves that Ali was not able to father children and could not possibly be Hassan’s biological father. Amir understands that Baba slept with Sanaubar, and that Hassan is actually his half-brother. Rahim Khan’s revelation adds gravity to his request: in saving Sohrab, Amir would not only be atoning for his past, but he would be rescuing his own nephew.

What are Ali and Hassan's distinct physical characteristics?

Ali’s leg was damaged by polio and his face paralyzed since birth, and Hassan was born with a cleft palate (a “harelip,” as Amir describes it). Possibly, Hosseini intended these qualities to be a misdirect, making Ali and Hassan seem physically similar although—as Rahim Khan later reveals—they are not biologically related. More importantly, Ali and Hassan’s physical differences symbolize how both men suffer marginalized existences through no fault of their own.

Why do Amir and Baba go to America?

After the Russians invade Afghanistan and executions become commonplace, Amir and Baba flee the turmoil and danger destroying their home country. While the characters find safety in California, Baba becomes frustrated by his misunderstandings of American customs and takes great insult at his lower social status. Amir assimilates far more easily, describing America as “a river, roaring along, unmindful of the past.” Amir views his American life as an opportunity to start over and free himself from his sins against Hassan in Afghanistan.

Why does Amir sometimes treat Hassan badly in childhood?

As a child, Amir sometimes treats Hassan badly partly because of class distinctions. Amir is an upper-class Pashtun, and Hassan is a Hazara, a member of an ethnic group considered inferior by Pashtuns. Amir sees Hassan as his servant and feels no need to treat him well. Amir also treats Hassan badly because he resents and is jealous of Baba’s affection for Hassan; Baba doesn’t express much affection for Amir, and his feeling of rejection brings out the worst in him.

Why doesn’t Amir help Hassan in the alley?

At first, Amir tells himself he doesn’t help Hassan because he’s afraid of being hurt by Assef if he intervenes: “I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me.” But Amir heard Assef tell Hassan that he will let him keep the kite so it will remind him of the rape. Amir then admits that he doesn’t help Hassan because he wants to get the kite to bring back to his father, a gesture that he believes will cause his father to finally love and accept him: “Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.”

Why does Amir want Hassan to hit him with pomegranates?

Amir wants Hassan to hit him with pomegranates to punish himself for not intervening and helping Hassan in the alley. Amir feels incredible guilt over sacrificing Hassan in order to get the blue kite, the kite he believed would cause his father to finally love him. Amir even throws pomegranates at Hassan while yelling at him, trying to make Hassan angry enough to throw pomegranates at him in return. Amir explains, “I wished he’d give me the punishment I craved, so maybe I’d finally sleep at night.”

Why does Amir want Hassan to leave Baba’s household?

Amir tells himself that having Hassan leave Baba’s household would lessen both Hassan’s and his own suffering. He got such an idea from Baba’s friend, Rahim Khan, who once told Amir of loving a Hazara woman who was then sent away from his family. Although Rahim Khan loved the woman and it was his father that sent her away, he explains to Amir that such a decision was for the best because the woman would have suffered due to their different social classes. Amir eventually comes to the conclusion that he and Hassan can no longer live under the same roof because of the suffering caused by his guilt: “Either way, this much had become clear: One of us had to go.”

Why does Amir ask Baba if he has seen Amir’s new watch?

Amir asks Baba if he has seen Amir’s new watch as part of his plot to have Hassan sent away. Amir tells Baba his watch is missing, knowing that later he is going to frame Hassan for stealing it. The next day, Amir plants the watch and some of his gift money under Hassan’s mattress. Amir’s plot and manipulation of Baba show how devious he is.

Why does Hassan lie about stealing Amir’s watch?

Hassan lies about stealing Amir’s watch because, once again, he is making a sacrifice for Amir. Hassan understands that if he denies taking the watch, Baba would know of Amir’s devious plot to frame Hassan. Hassan recognizes that such an event would create an irreconcilable break between father and son. Hassan takes the blame because he loves Amir, and this unconditional love and willingness to sacrifice himself for those he loves are part of Hassan’s true nature.

Why does Amir accept Soraya even after she tells him of her past?

Amir accepts Soraya even after she tells him of her past because he, too, has done something seriously wrong and doesn’t feel he can judge others. He asks himself, “How could I, of all people, chastise someone for their past?” In Afghan culture, a woman who has had premarital sex is socially frowned upon and is no longer considered desirable as a wife, so while Amir knows he can’t judge Soraya, his pride is a little hurt, especially because he has never slept with a woman. However, his acceptance of Soraya shows he is mature and tolerant and has learned from his past. In fact, he admires Soraya’s courage in telling him her truth.

Why did Baba lie about Hassan being his son?

Baba lied about Hassan being his son because if he didn’t, he would have had to admit that he had sex with Sanaubar, Ali’s wife and a Hazara woman. He’d also have to reveal that the encounter occurred soon after Amir’s mother had died. As Rahim Khan explains, “It was a shameful situation. People would talk.” Baba’s “honor” and standing in society were more important to him than recognizing Hassan as his son. In the end, however, Baba’s guilt led him to do good.

Why does Rahim Khan disappear?

Rahim Khan disappears because he lied to Amir about there being an American couple who would take in Sohrab, Hassan’s son, and care for him once he gets to the United States. Rahim Khan knew that if and when Amir returned with Sohrab, Amir would realize the lie and bring the boy to him. Rahim Khan is dying and wishes to spend his last days alone, not raise Sohrab or explain his actions to Amir.

Does Amir redeem himself?

Yes, Amir redeems himself, and by the end of the novel, he has paid for his betrayal of Hassan. He puts his safe, comfortable life in America on the line to return to Afghanistan and rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab. He stands up for Sohrab by confronting Assef—something he didn’t do for Hassan years ago—even though it leads to his brutal beating. In addition, not only does Amir take Sohrab in, but he tells him the truth about who Hassan is. The scar on Amir’s upper lip—reminiscent of Hassan’s cleft lip—and his joy in running the kite for Sohrab are evidence of Amir’s redemption.