Final Revision for the Kite Runner

Writing notes for prose can be a long, arduous task as you’re dealing with a bulky body of text. Thus, I prefer making a summary booklet with key points once I finish the novel instead, along with links to resources I found useful. This may or may not suit your study style! Below are the notes I made for the Kite Runner.

Kite Runner – Revision

(Use with highlighted copy of the text)

Key points:

  1. Narrative structure
  2. Narrative and chronological time, including the use of tense
  3. Narrative voice
  4. Use of speech
  5. Prose style and language choices including sentence structure
  6. Use of images, symbols and motifs
  7. Genre and generic conventions.


Narrative structure:

  • Historical drama
  • Coming-of-age (albeit a little unconventional…) — Bildungsroman novel
  • Retrospective novel!!!!!

Narrative and time:

  • Narrative time and chronological time differ due to the time skips
  • Wholly in past tense (except in the beginning). Links to nostalgia and remembrance and the novel was written after all the incidents have happened
  • Temporal shift!!!!!!!! Eventually jumps back to the present
  • Jumps from the present to the past, then to the present
    • This allows for a lot of irony when secrets are revealed in the future, e.g. Amir and Hassan’s connection is much more than the nursing woman.

Narrative voice:

  • 1st person narrative
  • Unreliable narrator — Amir is biased, one-sided, may romanticise parts of his experience
    • Makes the Kite Runner more complex — readers have to make a judgement on whether to trust Amir’s presentation of the story
  • Stream of consciousness?
  • Shifts in POV
    • Focaliser: the person whose point of view dominates
    • Letters: Kite Runner uses many letters to convey other characters’ feelings through the eyes of Amir — again, susceptible to bias although it does overcome limitations of 1st person narrative

Links: Quotes by Theme

Friendship (or lack thereof) and Loyalty

  • ‘Hassan never denied me anything’
  • ‘Then he  [Ali] would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast.’
  • ‘Mine [first word spoken] was Baba. His was Amir, my name.’
  • ‘As he was preparing my breakfast, Hassan asked if something was bothering me. I snapped at him, told him to mind his own business.’
  • ‘Ali and Baba grew up together as childhood playmates — just like Hassan and I grew up a generation later.’
  • ‘But in none of his stories did Baba refer to Ali as his friend. The curious thing was, I never thought of Hassan as a friend either — not in the usual sense, anyhow.’
  • ‘During the school year, we had a daily routine… (chapter 4)’
  • ‘“Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul.” That made it formal: the tree was ours.’
  • ‘As always, it was Rahim Khan who rescued me.’
  • Hassan’s scarred lip in chapter 5??
  • ‘But there was something fascinating — albeit in a sick way — about teasing Hassan. Kind of like when we used to play insect torture.’
  • ‘If i was going to toy with him and challenge his loyalty, then he’d toy with me, challenge my integrity.’
  • ‘He was always doing that, reading my mind.’ ‘Hassan couldn’t read a first-grade book but he’d read me plenty.’ p.58
  • ‘But even when he wasn’t there, he was…Everywhere I turned, I saw signs of his unwavering loyalty.’
  • ‘Think of something good, something happy.’ And Amir thinks of his time with Hassan.
  • ‘A perfectly encapsulated morsel of a good past.’
  • ‘It was a matter of respect. He moved to the hut, where he was born…Like he was preparing the house for someone’s return.’

Good/Evil or Just/Unjust

  • ‘Even in birth, Hassan stayed true to his nature: he was incapable of hurting anyone.’
  • ‘Baba had personally funded the entire project.’
  • Amir’s grandfather was ‘a highly regarded judge and a man of impeccable reputation’ whose ‘punishment was harsh but fair.’
  • ‘I would always feel guilty later… I would tell myself that was amends enough for a harmless prank.’
  • ‘It was the look of the lamb.’
  • ‘I had to make him stop kissing my hands.’ — Rahim Khan about Hassan
  • Some people stay evil — Amir (to Sohrab)


  • ‘There is a way to be good again’ — Rahim Khan
  • Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba’s heart.
  • ‘I understood the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it.’
  • Symbols of monster
  • I wish he’d give me the punishment I craved, so that I could finally sleep at night.’ (pomegranates)
  • ‘It was living in America that gave him an ulcer.’
  • ‘For me, America was a place to bury my memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his.’
  • ‘What was the old saying about a penny? My past was like that, always turning up.’
  • I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things… and leaving unannounced…
  • ‘And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.’ — Rahim Khan.

War/Politics/Religion (and their influence on private lives)

  • ‘I told him what the mullah taught us in class. Baba was pouring himself whisky…’
  • ‘God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands.’ (Dramatic irony?)
  • ‘There is only one sin, and that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft.’
  • ‘The year Baba was born an the year Zahir Shah began his forty-year reign of Afghanistan…’
  • ‘Never mind that to me, the face of Afghanistan is… (Hassan’s face’).’
  • ‘Because history isn’t easy to overcome. Neither is religion…Nothing is ever going to change that.’ // ‘But we were kids who learned to crawl together, and no religion, ethnicity or history is ever going to change that either.’
  • ‘The generation of Afghan children whose ears would know nothing but the sounds of bombs and gunfire was not yet born.’
  • ‘“We [Pashtuns] are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland.”’
  • ‘Baba was the lone Republican in our building.’
  • ‘What kind of a country is this? No one trusts anybody!’ — Baba
  • ‘Baba was like the widower who remarries but can’t let go of his dead wife.’
  • Hassan’s letter opens and closes with religious prayers. Difference between him/Amir
  • ‘A land mine. Is there a more Afghan way of dying, Amir jan?’
  • Lots of quotes in Chapter 19 about Afghanistan’s situation


  • (After watching the horserace) ‘I began to cry. I will never forget Baba’s valiant efforts to hide the disgust on his face.’
  • ‘He never fights back.’ — Baba ‘A boy who won’t stand up for himself won’t be able to stand up for anything.’
  • ‘I will never forget how Assef’s blue eyes glinted with a light not entirely sane and how he had grinned as he pummelled that kid unconscious.’
  • Calls Assef sociopath
  • ‘Cut him! Cut him! (during kite competition)’ like Romans chanting for gladiators to kill! kill!’
  • The Afghan wedding song.
  • Quiet vs Silence


  • The entire rape scene tbh
  • ‘This was Hassan’s last sacrifice for me.’
  • ‘Now it’s me who has to prove my worthiness (to Sohrab)’

Father and Son/Daughter

  • ‘He’d close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups’ time with him’
  • ‘Sometimes I sat there for an hour, sometimes two, listening to their laughter, their chatter.’
  • ‘I’m in his arms, but it’s Rahim Khan’s pinky my fingers are curled around.’
  • ‘Mine [first word spoken] was Baba. His was Amir, my name.’
  • All that bear stuff about Baba
  • ‘ He asked me to fetch Hassan too, but I lied and told him Hassan had the runs. I wanted Baba all to myself.’ ‘I think I have saratan (cancer)’. Baba told me I could get the soda myself.’
    • Irony: Baba is building an orphanage for children who are not his, and writing a speech for that orphanage but barely takes notice of his own and is too busy with the orphanage speech to listen to Amir.
  • ‘I was so proud of Baba, of us.’
  • ‘With me as the glaring exception, my father moulded the world around him to his liking.’… ‘You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.’
  • ‘It wasn’t often Baba talked to me, let alone on his lap — and i’d been a fool to waste it.’
  • ‘I already hated all the kids he was building the orphanage for; sometimes I wished they’d died alone with their parents.’
  • ‘I was always learning things about Baba from other people.’
  • ‘If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife, I’d never believe he’s my son.’ —Baba
  • ‘After all, didn’t all fathers in their secret hearts harbour a desire to kill their sons?’
  • ‘Most days I worshipped Baba with an intensity approaching the religious. But right then, I wish I could open my veins and drain his cursed blood from my body.’
  • ‘I wish he’d let me be the favourite.’
  • ‘And that right there was the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last.’
  • ‘I finally had what I wanted. Except now that I had it, I felt as empty as this unkempt pool I was dangling my feet into.’


  • ‘Lost her to a fate considered worse than death: She ran off with a clan of traveling singers and dancers.’
  • Sanaubar, misunderstood?
  • Soraya’s father’s control over her — Afghan customs to wed girls
  • Chapter 19 — women spoke in ‘low voices’ and ‘made no sound at all’, subservient.

The Kite (more like a symbol)

  • ‘Baba and I lived in the same house, but different spheres of existence. Kites were the one paper-thin slice of intersection between those spheres.’
  • ‘Fighting kites was a little like going to war in Afghanistan.’
  • Symbol for Amir’s reputation in Baba’s eyes.
  • ‘That was the thing with kite flying — your mind drifted with the kite.’
  • ‘Sitting on piles of scrap and rubble, was the blue kite. My key to Baba’s heart.’
  • ‘We’d actually deceived ourselves into thinking that a toy made of tissue paper, glue and bamboo could somehow close the chasm between us.’


  • ‘That was how I escaped my father’s aloofness, in my dead mother’s books.’
  • ‘Real men didn’t read poetry — and God forbid if the should ever write it!’
  • ‘That Hassan would grow up illiterate like Ali and most Hazaras had been decided the minute he was born… after all, what use did a servant have for the written word?’
    • Irony: Amir was only reunited with Sohrab through Hassan’s written word, despite him retaining his servant status. Ironic because Amir used to belittle Hassan through his superiority.
  • ‘My favourite part of reading to Hassan was when we came across a big word that he didn’t know. I’d tease him, expose his ignorance.’
  • ‘Baba went on staring me down, didn’t offer to read.’
  • ‘But the most impressive thing about your story is that it has irony.’ — Rahim Khan to Amir
  • ‘Taught by Hassan of all people,. Hassan who couldn’t even read and had never written a word in his entire life.’Summary + Link to themes
  • Chapter 1: Opens up with Amir’s current life in Seattle. Flashback to Kabul.
  • Chapter 2: Introduction to life in Kabul: history and politics, Hassan’s character.
  • Chapter 3: Mostly about Baba and Amir’s relationship, Baba’s figure from Amir’s perspective.
  • Chapter 4: Amir and his writing, some bits about his relationship with Hassan and Baba.
  • Chapter 5: References to Afghan politics, Assef.
  • Chapter 6: Introduction to kite running and build-up to competition. Friendship.
  • Chapter 7: The Kite competition and Hassan’s rape.
  • Chapter 8: Drifting away of Amir and Hassan (loss of friendship), Amir’s birthday party.
  • Chapter 9: Presents, Hassan’s last sacrifice and his departure with Ali.
  • Chapter 10: Escape to Pakistan. Baba’s bravery and closer relationship with Amir.
  • Chapter 11: New life in the USA. Adjustment period; culture, heritage. Amir falls in love.
  • Chapter 12: Baba’s waning strength, Amir’s pursuit of literature, Soraya’s confession, engage.
  • Chapter 13: Wedding, Baba’s death, Soraya’s sterile. Themes of fatherhood and redemption.
  • Chapter 14: Back to present time. Amir thinks of childhood. Decides to visit Rahim Khan.
  • Chapter 15: Descriptions from others of war-torn Afghanistan, religion. See Rahim Khan.
  • Chapter 16: Rahim Khan tells Amir Hassan’s story in Afghanistan after he left.
  • Chapter 17: Shift in narrative point of view. Secrets spilled, theme of betrayal.
  • Chapter 18: Amir reflecting on Rahim Khan’s news. Themes of redemption, betrayal.
  • Chapter 19: Stayed at Wahid’s house. Nightmare about Hassan. Starving Afghan children.
  • Chapter 20: Back to Kabul, war-torn place. Meet beggar. Just/injustice, orphanage.
  • Chapter 21: Go to Ghazi stadium to find Sohrab. Witness stoning. Appointment with Taliban.
  • Chapter 22: Meet Assef, fight. Themes of redemption and strength.
  • Chapter 23: Aftermath. Lots of flashbacks, disjointed thoughts. Go to Islamabad.
  • Chapter 24: Try to win Shoran’s trust, US visa, orphanage, Sohrab attempt suicide. Betrayal.
  • Chapter 25: Sohrab recovery, back to the US, he’s mute. Ending with kite. Redemption, cycle.

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