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The Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini

Summary and Analysis Chapter 16


Rahim Khan admits that the primary reason he searched for Hassan was his own loneliness. It happened like this: After Rahim Khan hears of Baba's death, he drives to Hazarajat to search for Hassan and asks him to move to Kabul with him. Rahim Khan learns that Hassan is married and that his wife is expecting a child. He also learns that a land mine killed Ali two years earlier. Hassan has many questions about Amir and his life in America. Initially, Hassan says he does not want to go with Rahim Khan, but after a night of whispers and tears between Hassan and his wife, in the morning, Hassan agrees.

Hassan and his wife, Farzana, refuse to move into the house with Rahim Khan; instead, they live in Ali's old hut. They begin to take care of both Rahim Khan and the house. Their child is stillborn. Years pass. In 1990, Farzana is pregnant again. One day a disfigured old woman arrives. The woman is Sanaubar, Hassan's mother. Upon hearing this news, Hassan flees the house; however, he returns the next morning, welcomes his mother, and nurses her back to health. That winter, Sanaubar delivers Hassan's son, Sohrab, named after the hero from the Shahnamah. Sanaubar becomes inseparable from her grandson until her death four years later.

By this time it is 1995, and Kabul suffers from the infighting of three factions — Massoud, Rabbani, and the Mujahedin. Hassan teaches Sohrab to use a slingshot, and like his father, Sohrab becomes deadly with it. Hassan and his son also run kites. It is 1996 when the Taliban rolls in, and they are viewed as heroes by many, but not by Hassan. Hassan's response to their coming is "God help the Hazaras now." And he is right. A couple of weeks after they seize power, the Taliban ban kite fighting. "And two years later, in 1998, they massacred the Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif."


For the first time in the novel, the narrative shifts in this chapter from Amir's to Rahimi Khan's point of view. The most telling details that Rahim Khan shares with Amir about Hassan are the questions Hassan asks about Amir and Amir's life, especially the one asking whether Amir is happy. Hassan is still more concerned about Amir's welfare than his own; this serves as a sharp contrast to Amir's reaction every time he has heard a mention of Hassan's name.

At one point in his narrative, Rahim Khan comments, in response to Hassan's reaction to his mother's return, "I guess some stories do not need telling." But some stories do need telling — especially the story The Kite Runner. Although this statement is an offhand remark that refers to a minor character, the implication of its significance to the greater whole is quite clear. Without novels like The Kite Runner, many readers will remain blissfully unaware of life in Afghanistan. A novel like this puts a face and a name to citizens that otherwise exist only in newspaper headlines, news programs, and Internet reports. Chapter 16 makes perfectly clear that one of the most important reasons for writing this book is to share historical information in a compelling manner. Although the story of Amir is fiction, the narrative is based on fact, and the information about life in Afghanistan makes The Kite Runner a notable historical novel.

Some critics view Hassan as a Christ figure, and the forgiveness he gives to the mother who abandoned him supports this interpretation. These critics like to identify the similarities between Islam and Christianity and consider the overlapping ideas and beliefs another example of the universality of the novel. Other critics bristle at this need to find a Christian figure in a text that contains so few Christians and find such a characterization as demeaning and insensitive.