Summary and Analysis
When they arrive in Islamabad, the mosque — reputedly the largest in the world — captures Sohrab's attention. Before Farid leaves, Amir gives him an envelope of money, and then never sees him again. Amir falls asleep, and when he wakes up, Sohrab is gone. Eventually he thinks about searching at the mosque and gets the clerk from the front desk to drive him there.
When they find Sohrab outside the mosque, Amir sits down next to him, and they talk. After Amir says that Sohrab must miss his parents, Sohrab asks whether Amir misses his. Then Sohrab admits that he is beginning to forget his father's face. Amir gives Sohrab the Polaroid photo of Hassan. Sohrab then asks Amir if he thinks God will put him in hell for hurting the bad man. Sohrab is concerned about disappointing his father. He then says that he is full of sin because of what the Taliban men did to him.
Amir asks Sohrab whether he wants to go to America with him. And a week passes before the topic is mentioned again. While talking, Amir admits to Sohrab that he and Hassan were half-brothers. He acknowledges that Hassan's being Hazara was the reason for the distance between the two. Sohrab admits to being scared about the uncertainty of their future together: What if Amir's wife doesn't like him? What if they tire of him? In response to his concerns about going to an orphanage, Amir promises him that we will never need to go to an orphanage again. Sohrab nods in agreement after Amir implores him to "Come home with me."
Amir finally calls home, after having been away for almost a month, and he tells Soraya everything that has occurred, not only during this return visit to Afghanistan, but also during his entire life.
Amir encounters red tape at the American embassy, finding out that adopting Sohrab will not be as easy as he initially anticipated. Raymond Andrews is the agent who tells Amir, "It's a dangerous business, making promises to kids." He gives Amir the name of an immigration lawyer who might be able to help his situation. Although Amir is initially annoyed with Mr. Andrews' attitude, afterward he discovers that Mr. Andrews' daughter committed suicide.
Sohrab takes a bath for an hour every night. Amir thinks to himself, "Do you feel clean yet, Sohrab?" Talking with Amir on the phone one night, Soraya mentions that Kaka Sharif, her uncle, has contacts in the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) who might be able to help.
Omar Faisal is the immigration lawyer Amir seeks out for help and guidance. Faisal explains the workings and the thinking of the INS for both readers and Amir and shows how difficult it will be to get a visa for Sohrab. Faisal goes through the various options with Amir, with the most promising — but by no means guaranteed — being the placing of Sohrab in an orphanage and the filing of an orphan petition.
Although Sohrab smiles when Amir mentions that Mr. Faisal may have a way for them to get Sohrab to America, the smile vanishes when Amir mentions going to an orphanage. Amir rocks Sohrab to sleep, and then falls asleep himself. He is awakened by a phone call from Soraya with news that they first need to get Sohrab into the country and then they could worry about the adoption. Kaka Sharif practically guarantees being able to acquire a humanitarian visa for Sohrab.
Amir goes into the bathroom to share with Sohrab the news that he will not have to go into an orphanage, but starts screaming. He is still screaming when the ambulance arrives.
Explaining the difficulty of taking Sohrab to the United States mixed with the mentioning that Raymond Andrews's daughter committed suicide combine to foreshadow Sohrab's attempt on his own life. Sohrab's daily bath is a metaphorical attempt at cleansing his perceived sins; scrubbing in the tub is Sohrab's outward effort to deal with the guilt and shame he feels about everything he was forced to do and endure. The detail of the razor that Amir uses to shave is significant and foreshadows Sohrab's suicide attempt. Without specifically mentioning what had happened, it is perfectly clear that Sohrab did something. Insightful readers will not only pick up on the suicide attempt but also realize the method.
Critics are divided about the end of this chapter. Kaka Sharif's contact in the INS serves as a deus ex machina that serves as a sharp contrast to the realistic portrayal of the red tape of international adoption, yet Sohrab's suicide attempt is considered a realistic response based on what he has experienced during the past year.