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"The Kite Runner"

kiterunner.gif2006 Summer Reading Assignment: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


Before you read the novel

The more you understand about Afghan culture, history, and geography, the more you will be able to enjoy the novel. Much of the story described in The Kite Runner takes place in Afghanistan during two time periods, the 1970's and 2001. The political climate of the country changed dramatically between those two times. Moreover, the novel describes ethnic and religious groups that are unfamiliar to many Americans. As you read about Pashtuns and Hazaras, and about Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, you will want to learn more about these groups and religious denominations.

For introductions to Afghan culture, history and geography, see:

  For up-to-date information on Afghanistan, see:

  Pre-reading Questions:

  1. With which nations does Afghanistan share a border?
  2. Since 1900, with which nations has Afghanistan fought wars?
  3. What is the nature of the division between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims?
  4. Which ethnic groups live in Afghanistan? Which parts of the country do they occupy?

Reading Questions: Chapter 1 – Chapter 10

  1. Why do Amir and Hassan have a strained relationship? Can their troubles be attributed to religious differences, as Amir seems to think? If not, what other factors may be involved?
  2. Which of Amir's sins is more egregious, the one described in Chapter 7 or the one described in Chapter 9?
  3. In Chapter 2 through Chapter 4, Hosseini paints a vivid picture of Kabul. What type of city was Kabul, according to Hosseini?
  4. Why is the relationship between Amir and Baba so difficult, even painful, for each of them? How does it change after Amir wins the kite-running tournament? Does Amir think he has finally won his father's love?
  5. Complete this sentence with one word: The Kite Runner is a novel about _______.

Reading Questions: Chapter 11 – Chapter 18

  1. Compare the relationships between Baba and Ali and Amir and Hassan. Were their personal relationships affected by their social statuses? How?
  2. Why does Amir and Baba's relationship improve after they move? How does it change?
  3. In what ways is Soraya and Amir's courtship/relationship American, and in what ways is it Afghan?

Reading Questions: Chapter 19 – Chapter 25

  1. Can Amir be called a hero? How does he (or does he not) fit this role?
  2. Why is Amir's conflict with Assef significant? Why does Hosseini have Amir find Sohrab in the way and place that he did?
Reading Questions: the complete novel
  1. Complete this sentence with one word: The Kite Runner is a novel about _______.
  2. Consider how Hosseini's uses the following stereotypes in the novel:
  3. Father/son relationship (Amir & Baba)
  4. Privileged son (Amir)
  5. Noble savage (Hassan)
  6. Religious fundamentalist (Assef)
  7. Does Hosseini use these effectively? Excessively? Erroneously?
  8. In what ways is this story distinctively Afghan? Could it have occurred in the United States? Under what circumstances or within which communities?
  9. What was the significance of religion in Kite Runner? Could such a story take place in the context of another religion? How would it have to change?
  10. How are women portrayed in the novel? Does any female character have an important role?
  11. What is the importance of education—of reading, storytelling, and writing in this book?
  12. Think about truth and lies. How would this story have been different if everyone told the truth? Why didn't they?
  13. What other novels or stories can you compare to The Kite Runner? Do they have similar characters or plots or themes?