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The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Setting

Main ideas Setting

The Kite Runner is set primarily in Afghanistan and the United States between the 1960s and early 2000s. The setting of Afghanistan is particularly important to the arc of the novel, because the violence and betrayal inflicted upon the country are reflections of the events that happen to the main characters. Notably, there are multiple distinct Afghanistans described in the novel. There is the idyllic Afghanistan of Amir’s youth, before the military coup overthrows the King. In those days, Amir and Hassan “climb the poplar trees,” skip stones on the water, and climb up “the bowl-shaped hill” to read under the pomegranate tree. Amir’s childhood memories with Hassan are marked by the relatively stable nature of his country, and remain peaceful even after the monarchy is abolished. When Soviet military forces invade Afghanistan a few years later, Amir is a young adult. Amir and Baba escape to America, and this setting represents not only a respite from persecution, but a potential exile from the guilt Amir has felt toward Hassan for years. A community of displaced Afghans forms in California, and Amir finds himself able to easily assimilate. Finally, there is the Afghanistan that Amir returns to as an adult, which has been ruined by years of fighting and Taliban rule. This setting is the Afghanistan in which Amir fights Assef and rescues Sohrab, ultimately atoning for his sin against Hassan and finding inner healing.