What mark do you think my Kite Runner essay would get?Watch
Write about the way Hosseini tells the story in Chapter One (21 Marks)
In the opening chapter of Hosseini’s 2003 novel The Kite Runner, a reflective tone is present in the narrative and is used to plant the seeds of three prominent themes in the novel: guilt, betrayal and atonement. The chapter both starts and ends with the currently unnamed Amir alluding to a yet-unknown event which ‘made [him] what [he is] today’. Despite providing specific details such as the ‘when’ (‘winter of 1975’), and the ‘where’ (‘behind a crumbling mud wall’), Hosseini, through the first-person perspective of Amir, neglects to provide the ‘what’ thus shrouding the chapter in a purposeful ambiguity no doubt used to entice the reader. The details that Hosseini is willing to confide are provided with a precision which works to emphasise the character-shaping significance of the foreshadowed event.
With hindsight one can see that Hosseini uses subtle juxtapositions in the chapter to accentuate the extent of Amir’s guilt. The idyllic and utopian descriptions of San Francisco (e.g. ‘[the sun] sparkled on the water’, ‘[the boats were] propelled by a crisp breeze’) contrast notably with the feelings of self-disgust and remorse which consume Amir – feelings so strong that they ultimately force him to leave the freedom and ‘utopia’ of the city he now calls ‘home’ and return to the turmoil and instability of Afghanistan.
Alongside Amir, the character of Rahim Khan is introduced by Hosseini. Characterised in a prophet-like manner, Rahim is used in the opening chapter by Hosseini as a plot device. Through his phone call to Amir, Rahim acts as the catalyst in forcing Amir to come to terms with his past and his immorality – ‘I knew it wasn’t just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins’. Rahim is used as a medium to connect Amir with the past he has tried to bury and forces him into the realisation that he has been ‘peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years’.
Hosseini’s inclusion of the kites in the opening chapter is greatly symbolic of the friendship shared between Amir and Hassan before the event in the ‘deserted alley’. The expressive and animated movement of the kites (‘they danced above the trees’) invoke a sense of nostalgia within Amir. Amir describes the kites with the simile ‘like a pair of eyes’ which, considering how they fly over Amir in San Francisco, carries connotations of judgement – Amir’s past judging his present perhaps, making the kites another device deployed by Hosseini and used to coerce Amir into fully realising the necessity of atonement.
To conclude, Hosseini tells the story by constructing some of the key themes through an enigmatic narration. Through the use of such things as Rahim Khan’s character, and the symbolic kites, Hosseini works to instil a sense of purpose within Amir: his need to atone. An integral part of the novel is Amir’s search for a ‘way to be good again’ which Hosseini provides solid foundations for in this opening chapter.