Symbols

1. Identify the symbol in the novel.
2. Explain and interpret the symbol as it relates to the novel.
3. Locate and provide evidence from the novel that supports your symbol i.e. quotations.

Symbols in the novel:

1. The Kite
2. Pomegranate
3. Hassan’s Rape
4. The sling shot
5. The lamb
6. The harelip

If I’ve missed anything, let me know.

17 Responses to Symbols

  1. Angus says:

    Kites are, unsurprisingly, a very important symbol in The Kite Runner. In general, they act as a symbol

    of the relationship between Amir and Hassan, and their childhood. In the first few chapters, kites are

    mentioned fairly often. Amir talks about how he and Hassan used to fly kites together, and one important

    scene, in which Hassan proves his loyalty by saying that he’d eat dirt if Amir told him to, takes place

    while the two of them are running a kite. Another time, Baba buys Hassan a kite as a birthday present,

    and Amir feels jealous of the attention that Baba gives Hassan – here, the kite could signify Baba’s

    fatherly love for Hassan, which he has to keep a secret from everyone. After the incident in the alley,

    there are few mentions of kites as the book turns to darker themes. In the final chapter, Shorab ends

    his withdrawl from the world by flying a kite with Amir, symbolizing the bond that Amir and Hassan

    shared so many years ago and the mending of the rift between Amir and Hassan (now Sohrab) that was

    created after the kite tournament that Amir won. The blue kite from said tournament holds a particular

    importance, as it symbolizes Amir’s victory and Baba’s acceptance of him as a son. Hassan sacrifices

    himself for the blue kite and, by extention, for Amir to become accepted by his father.

    The importance of kites is quite apparent in the book. In the very first chapter, Amir refers to Hassan

    as “The Harelipped Kite Runner”, and the book’s title also refrences Hassan’s talent at running kites.

    In the early chapters, the kites have a prominent role, such as when Baba buys Hassan a kite as a

    birthday present (which causes jealousy in Amir) and especially the kite tournament. Amir’s real prize

    for winning is gaining his father’s love, and the material prize – the blue kite – acts as a symbol for

    this, particularily when Amir enters his home holding the kite to a hero’s welcome. The symbolism of

    kites for Amir and Hassan’s friendship is also strong – Baba usually buys them the same kites, they fly

    the kites together, and after their friendship disintegrates after the kite tournament, kites cease to

    be mentioned. Later, while Amir is in America, he sees kites flying after Rahim Khan calls him to ask

    him to return to Kabul, acting as a symbol of his childhood and, again, of his relationship with Hassan.

    Finally, the last chapter has Amir and Sohrab flying a kite together, the first time Amir has flown a

    kite since Hassan left him, and this time, it symbolises the reforging of the broken bond between Amir

    and Hassan, and also Sohrab’s recovery from his long period of withdrawl.

    • Angus says:

      Apparently, the site’s formatting doesn’t agree well with Notepad’s word warp. I can repost this if it’s too hard to read with all the line breaks.

  2. Ms Chan says:

    Yes Angus — please repost so that it looks like a more fluid paragraph. Don’t forget to embed quotes into your analysis. Thanks.

  3. In Christianity and Islam, the sacrifice of an innocent is symbolized by a lamb. Both Hassan and Sohrab were described to have the look of a lamb waiting to be slaughtered in Amirs eyes. Hassan was described with this feature during the rape commited by Assef. During the act, Amir was watching and revealed that Hassan, “moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face. Saw the resignation in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb.” (Ch.7, pg.81). He notes that it reminds him of the lamb they had sacrificed during the celebration of Eid Al-Adha, honoring Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son for God. When he meets Assef, he see’s a mirror image of Hassan in Sohrab, “The boy had his fathers round moon face… It was the Chinese doll face of my childhood…” (Ch.22, pg.293). Sohrab reminds him of Hassan and innocence. He describes him as a slaughtered lamb. However, instead of sacrificing him like he did to Hassan in order to recieve Baba’s love, he chose to save him from sexual abuse thus signifying that sacrifice is only the exploitation of an innocent.

  4. Samantha says:

    Lying north of Amir’s property is a prime example of symbolism Khaled Hosseini used in his novel “The Kite Runner.” The pomegranate tree is a symbol of Amir’s childhood in Afghanistan. Beneath the tree, Amir and Hassan spent hours, till the sun sets in the west, together; creating memories of their childhood.

    After school they would climb the hill and Amir would read a book to Hassan beneath the pomegranate tree, sometimes purposely deceiving, teasing, and mocking the illiterate Hazara. “Let’s see. ‘Imbecile.’ It means smart, intelligent. I’ll use it in a sentence for you. ‘When it comes to words, Hassan is an imbecile.'” (31) Ultimately, this demonstrates Amir’s mischievous mean streak and Hassan’s fascination to the mystery of words, something he is denied of. Despite the cruelty Hassan went through underneath the branches of the pomegranate tree, it largely represent their close friendship. Carved onto its barks by Amir using one of Ali’s kitchen knife are the words, “Amir and Hassan, the Sultans of Kabul.” These words, according to Amir, made it formal, the tree was theirs.

    The tree makes two other reappearances in the novel. After Amir stood idly by witnessing Hassan’s rape, he is naturally haunted by guilt. In this state of both childhood innocence and selfishness, he avoided Hassan. Eventually, they return to the pomegranate tree, the sanctuary that stood as their place of friendship. Amir picks up a piece of overripe pomegranate. “What would you do if I hit you with this?” (97) He starts to throw it at Hassan hoping that Hassan will retaliate, so that he can get “the punishment he craved, so maybe [he] can finally sleep at night.” (98) However, the ever loving, humble, and loyal Hassan responded by crushing a pomegranate against his own forehead. This scene depicts the disintegration of their friendship, as though it is now broken and bleeding. Also, it presents the conflicting natures of the two boys, selfishness versus loyalty.

    Fast forward, in chapter twenty-one, Amir revisits his old home and the tree as an adult; now on a mission to find Hassan’s son, Sohrab. Reaching the top of the hill and seeing the tree Amir thinks, “Hassan had said in his letter that the pomegranate three hadn’t borne fruit in years. Looking at the wilted, leafless tree, I doubted it ever would again.” (276) The lifelessness of the tree can be linked to the dying friendship between Amir and Hassan.

  5. Kelly Tsia says:

    The pomegranate has a deep red colour, reminiscent of blood. When Hassan smashes the pomegranate on his own head, it looked as if he was bleeding himself. This showed the pain that Hassan felt when he was got raped. He knows that Hassan betrayed him, yet he still remains loyal to him (pg 98 “Are you satisfied? Do you feel better?”). So in some sense, the pomegranate symbolizes the loyalty the Hassan has for Amir. even though Amir has clearly betrayed him, he has no intention of wronging him back. However, the pomegranate tree itself, represents the friendship and loyalty between Amir and Hassan.

  6. Annie says:

    One of the symbols that appear in the story The Kite Runner is the slingshot. It represents as bravery. The slingshot could be represented as bravery because when Assef and his friends were harassing both Amir and Hassan, Hassan took out the slingshot and threatens to shoot Assef in the eye if he didn’t stop harassing them. Hassan was scared but he stood up for Amir. Amir states in the story, “… because I have this rock pointed at your left eye. He said this so flatly that even I had to strain to hear the fear that I knew hid under that calm voice.”(pg.42)Even though Hassan was as scared as Amir of Assef, Hassan stood up for both and saved them from being harassed by Assef and his friends.
    The slingshot appears another time when Hassan’s son, Sohrab, saves Amir. When Amir confronted Assef to bring back Sohrab to America, Amir was force to fight with Assef in order to decide whether the boy gets to stay with Hassan or leave with Amir. If Amir wins the fight then he can bring Sohrab with him but if he loses then Sohrab stays with Assef. Amir and Assef fought in a room with Sohrab because Assef wanted Sohrab to see their fight. In the middle of the fight where Assef kept on beating up Amir, Sohrab shot Assef in the eye with his slingshot which caused Assef to be screaming on the ground crying for help. Sohrab and Amir took this opportunity to leave the place quickly and go to a better place. Sohrab was really scared when he did that as it states. “The tears broke free. Sohrab shook his head. “Please, Agha.” He said. “Stop”” (pg. 290) Sohrab was scared as he was crying but he still tried to stand up for Amir. In the end, Sohrab did shoot Assef in the eye and protected Amir from Hassan.

  7. Leon says:

    Leon – My Paragraph (Slingshot)
    In The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini portrays the symbol of the slingshot to represent courage and retaliation. First, the slingshot symbolizes Hassan’s courage in the novel. For instance, Hassan with Amir, stood up to Assef telling him to “leave us alone” (45). Second, the slingshot symbolizes Hassan and possibly the Hazara’s retaliation towards Assef and the Pashtuns. For example, Hassan is a Hazara and is of lower class than Assef whom is a Pashtun. Despite this, Hassan retaliated against Assef threatening him “I’m the one holding the slingshot. If you make a move, they’ll have to change your nickename from Assef “the Ear Eater” to “One Eyed Assef” (45). To conclude, these representations show Hassan’s persistence as a Hazara and his friendship with Amir.

  8. David says:

    In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini portrays the symbol of the rape to represent power of social classes and the social issues in Afghanistan. In this novel the “rape” occurs many times. It is one of the most appeared in the novel. For example, the Hassan’s rape scene, Kamal’s rape, Sohrab’s rape, and also when the Russian soldier wanted to rape the woman with baby in the back of the truck. From these events, Afghanistan can be judged to be one of the most corrupted countries with the worst possible social issues.
    First, the rape symbolizes the power of high class society in the novel. Groups such as the Pashtuns, Soviet Soldiers, and the Taliban possess the power to oppress and show off to the lower class people like the Hazaras. For instance, when Assef raped Hassan after the kite tournament, he told Hassan that “to him, you’re nothing but an ugly pet. Something he can play with when he’s bored, something he can kick when he’s angry. Don’t fool yourself and think you’re something more” (77). In this statement, Assef is telling Hassan that he is only a Hazara, which he refers to a loyal dog, an animal. Basically, Assef, the Pashtun bullies, and rapes Hassan, the Hazara boy. The author used this symbol because it is something that is far worse than a murder.
    Secondly, the rape also symbolizes the social issue in Afghanistan. Ever since the Soviet invasion, somewhat peaceful Afghanistan became corrupted to the root. It shows how Afghanistan uses rape for almost every occasion. For example, in this novel, Sohrab was sexually abused by the Taliban official, Assef so does other kids from that orphanage. The rape is something that violates deeply to the victim especially same gender rape. I think the author used this symbol, rape, because it is something that is far worse than a murder and to make it clear to audience that it is common in Afghanistan.

  9. Samantha says:

    Khaled Hosseini uses the pomegranate tree to express childhood innocence and friendship in his novel The Kite Runner. Firstly, Amir would read a book to Hassan beneath the pomegranate tree. It embodies the time when Amir and Hassan are the best of friends despite their different background. Eventually, Amir carved the words “Amir and Hassan, the Sultans of Kabul” (30) into its barks. This made the tree officially theirs, a sanctuary for them to turn to. Next, the tree symbolizes the bond between Amir and Hassan. They spent a majority of their childhood beneath the tree’s branches that it is also the place that saw their friendship fall apart. Following Hassan’s rape, their friendship crumbles. Then later on, after leaving Afghanistan, Amir returns and visits his old home and the pomegranate tree. Seeing the tree made him think “Hassan had said in his letter that the pomegranate tree hadn’t borne fruit in years. Looking at the wilted, leafless tree, I doubt it ever would again” (276). Similarly, the death of the tree can be seen as the death of the boys’ friendship. In the end, Hosseini creates two distinct message through the pomegranate tree; the boys’ innocence and as well as their friendship.

  10. Johnny says:

    In The Kite Runner, Khalid Hosseini presented the slingshot as a symbol of courage and the resiliency of Hazaras. The slingshot is mentioned a few times in the novel. Hassan and Sohrab are the only ones to have a slingshot.

    Notably, the slingshot symbolizes the bravery and courage to stand in the face of fear. Both Hassan and Sohrab had stood up to Assef and had also protected Amir. Hassan told Assef to leave them alone “please leave us alone, agha”(45), and repeated “please leave us be, agha”(45) when Assef threatened him to put down the slingshot. Amir also noted that Hassan was scared “I saw he was scared. He was scared plenty”(45). Even in the face of danger and fear he stood up to Assef, Proving that he is both brave and courageous.

    Additionally, Sohrab protected Amir when Assef beat Amir to a pulp. With the slingshot Sohrab was able to protect Amir by getting a brass ball from a table that had fallen. He had enough of the violence and said “no more, agha. Please, stop hurting him” (304). Standing up to a person who’s of a higher class is something only Hassan and Sohrab could’ve done. Hassan and Sohrab were Hazaras and it was uncommon to see Hazaras mistreating a Pashtun. It is usually the other way around. The slingshot was a representation of how resilient Hazaras are. Even if they face hard conditions and oppression, they will stand up for themselves and for the people they love.

  11. Angus says:

    Repost – Edited:

    Kites are, unsurprisingly, a very important symbol in The Kite Runner. In general, they act as a symbol of the relationship between Amir and Hassan, and their childhood. In the first few chapters, kites are mentioned fairly often. Amir talks about how he and Hassan used to fly kites together, and one important scene, in which Hassan proves his loyalty by saying that he’d eat dirt if Amir told him to, takes place while the two of them are running a kite. Another time, Baba buys Hassan a kite as a birthday present, and Amir feels jealous of the attention that Baba gives Hassan – here, the kite could signify Baba’s fatherly love for Hassan, which he has to keep a secret from everyone. After the incident in the alley, there are few mentions of kites as the book turns to darker themes. In the final chapter, Shorab ends his withdrawl from the world by flying a kite with Amir, symbolizing the bond that Amir and Hassan shared so many years ago and the mending of the rift between Amir and Hassan (now Sohrab) that was created after the kite tournament that Amir won. The blue kite from said tournament holds a particular importance, as it symbolizes Amir’s victory and Baba’s acceptance of him as a son. Hassan sacrifices himself for the blue kite and, by extention, for Amir to become accepted by his father.

    The importance of kites is quite apparent in the book. In the very first chapter, Amir refers to Hassan as “the harelipped kite runner” (2), and the book’s title also refrences Hassan’s talent at running kites. In the early chapters, the kites have a prominent role, such as when Baba buys Hassan a kite as a birthday present (which causes jealousy in Amir) and especially the kite tournament, which is a very big deal in their life. “…If you were a boy living in Kabul, the day of the tournament was undeniably the highlight of the cold season” (52). He even says that “flying kites [i]was[/i] a little like going to war” (53). Amir’s real prize for winning is gaining his father’s love, and the material prize – the blue kite – acts as a symbol for this, particularily when Amir enters his home holding the kite to a hero’s welcome. “I’d had it all planned. I’d make a grand entrance, a hero, prized trophy in my bloddied hands… Vindiction. Salvation. Redemption” (72). The symbolism of kites for Amir and Hassan’s friendship is also strong – Baba usually buys them the same kites, they fly the kites together, and after their friendship disintegrates after the kite tournament, kites cease to be mentioned. Later, while Amir is in America, he sees kites flying after Rahim Khan calls him to ask him to return to Kabul: “I looked up at those twin kites. I thought about Hassan” (2). Finally, the last chapter has Amir and Sohrab flying a kite together, the first time Amir has flown a kite since Hassan left him, and Sohrab finally begins to recover from his depression: “It was only a smile, nothing more… When the spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.” This time, it symbolises both Sohrab’s recovery and the reforging of the broken bond between Amir and Hassan, and Amir’s finally repaying his debt to his childhood friend, and signalling it with the same words: “For you, a thousand times over” (71, 391).

  12. In Christianity, Islam, and The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini expresses the symbol of the lamb to represent the sacrifice of an innocent. Both Hassan and Sohrab were described to have the look of a lamb waiting to be slaughtered in Amirs eyes. First, Hassan was described with this feature during the rape committed by Assef, thus sacrificing his innocence for Amir. This is shown during the act, as Amir watches and catches “a glimpse of his face… It was the look of the lamb” (81). He notes that it reminds him of the lamb they had sacrificed during the celebration of Eid Al-Adha, honoring Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son for God. Hassan honorably took punishment in order to help Amir gain a stronger bond with Baba. Furthermore, Sohrab was also given this feature by Amir. When Amir meets Assef, he see’s a mirror image of Hassan in Sohrab as “the boy had his fathers round moon face… It was the Chinese doll face” (293). Sohrab reminds him of Hassan and innocence. He describes him as a slaughtered lamb. However, instead of sacrificing him like he did to Hassan in order to receive Baba’s affection, he chose to save him from sexual abuse thus signifying that sacrifice is only the exploitation of an innocent. As you can see, the story revolves around the idea of redemption. Khaled Hosseini uses the lamb as a symbol of sacrifice throughout the story to show the growth and progression of Amirs view on the aspect of sacrifice on the innocent.

  13. Kelly Tsia says:

    In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini presents the symbol of the pomegranate tree to symbolize blood, pain and as well as the friendship that lies between Amir and Hassan.

    First, the pomegranate fruit itself represents blood, which is from the pain that Hassan felt during the incident in the alley. This can be shown when Amir sees “the dark stains in the seat of his pants, or the tiny drops that fell between his legs (page 84)”.

    Aside from the fruit, the second thing the tree symbolizes is the friendship between Amir and Hassan. For instance, when they were just kids, the tree was full of life, but as they grew older and after the rape incident, their friendship began to diminish and so did the tree. Amir reads in Hassan’s letter that “the droughts have dried the hill and the tree hasn’t borne fruit in years (page 228)”.

  14. Annie says:

    In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini portrays the symbol of the slingshot to represent bravery. First, the slingshot symbolizes Hassan’s bravery in the novel. For instance, when Assef was harassing Amir and Hassan, Hassan points out ““…because I have this rock pointed at your left eye.” He said this so flatly that even I had to strain to hear the fear I knew hid under that calm voice”(46). Hassan showed this in the story when Assef and his friends were harassing Amir and Hassan, Hassan took out the slingshot and threatens to shoot Assef in the eye if he didn’t stop harassing them. Hassan was scared but he stood up for Amir and saved them from being harassed by Assef and his friends.
    Finally the slingshot represents Sohrab’s bravery towards the end of the novel. For instance, when Amir confronted Assef to bring back Sohrab to America, Amir was force to fight with Assef in order to decide whether the boy gets to stay with Hassan or leave with Amir. If Amir wins the fight then he can bring Sohrab with him but if he loses then Sohrab stays with Assef. Amir and Assef fought in a room with Sohrab because Assef wanted Sohrab to see their fight. In the middle of the fight where Assef kept on beating up Amir, Sohrab shot Assef in the eye with his slingshot which caused Assef to be screaming on the ground crying for help. Sohrab was really scared as the story reveals, “The tears broke free. Sohrab shook his head.“Please, Agha.” He said. “Stop” (290). Even though Sohrab was really scard of Assef, like his dad Sohrab took his slingshot out to save Amir and protected Amir from Hassan.

  15. Alexander Lee says:

    In the Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini portrays the pomegranate tree as a symbol to represent the friendship and sacrifice between Amir and Hassan.
    In the beginning, the pomegranate tree is fruitful and alive, symbolizing the state of the friendship between the two adolescent boys. The tree bears fruit, provides shade, and is a space where Amir and Hassan further their relationship. For example, Amir reflects their relationship on the tree by engraving “Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul.”(30)
    The tree also symbolizes the blood of sacrifice. Hosseini foreshadows the sacrifice of Hassan by using the “bloodred pomegranates”. For instance, Amir throws pomegranates at Hassan out of anger, but Hassan retaliates only to injure himself. “He opened it and crushed it against his own forehead. ‘There,’ he croaked, red dripping down his face like blood.” (98)
    However, the tree not only represents life and blood, but the death in the relationship between Amir and Hassan. As the tree is withered and no longer bears fruit, it closely relates to Amir and Hassan’s friendship after the rape. Both boys move to different locations and no longer keep contact with each other. The relationship is no longer there as both grow older into their own separate lives.
    The pomegranate tree is used few times in the novel, but is utilized to symbolize the blood that is shed as sacrifice and the slow decay of the friendship between Amir and Hassan.

  16. Cybil says:

    In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini ties sacrifice and the loss of innocence into the novel by using sheep as the symbol. This is first mentioned when Assef brutally raped Hassan in the alley. Hassan refused to let Assef take Amir’s kite, so he stands his ground, fully knowing that he will be punished. As Amir watched from the shadows, he saw Hassan’s face and “saw the resignation in it… it was the look of the lamb” (81). Hassan sacrificed himself for his best friend, losing his innocence in the act.
    The sheep symbol is brought up again when Amir sees Hassan’s son, Sohrab, for the first time. When their eyes meet, Amir recognizes that “they were slaughter sheep’s eyes” (298). Parallel to how sheep are fed a cube of sugar before being slaughtered, Assef “plucked a red grape. Put it, lovingly, in Sohrab’s mouth” (295). Hassan’s innocence was taken from him for protecting the blue kite; Sohrab’s,when his parents were murdered and he was forced to live as a toy for the Taliban, abused and raped.

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