Summary and Analysis
Chapter 6 is divided into four shorter sections. The first section mentions the winter and how the schools shut down during the icy season. And it mentions the flying and running of kites. Kites, according to Amir, are the only things that connect him to his father.
The next section describes the kite-fighting tournaments. Kites are flown, and their strings, coated with glass, enable flyers to be victorious in their fights. Hassan and Amir are better kite fighters than kite makers, and Baba always purchases identical kites for both Amir and Hassan. The assistant to the kite fighter, Hassan to Amir, holds the spool and feeds the line, and chases the kites that have been cut down — hence the name, the kite runner. The last fallen kite of the tournament is the most coveted prize. Hassan is the greatest kite runner. One time, while waiting for a kite to land, Amir turns a simple little comment made by Hassan, "I'd sooner eat dirt" into a challenge of the hierarchy and nature of their relationship. Hassan not only answers but also is able to challenge Amir's integrity with his own reply, questioning if Amir would ever ask such a thing. At the end of this episode — in an aside — Amir questions the existence of God.
The third section of this chapter mentions the winter of 1975 as Amir reveals this is the last time he sees Hassan run a kite. Four days prior to the start of the tournament, Baba hints that Amir might win the tournament this year. Amir is determined not to fail Baba.
In the final section, historical information about most Iranians being Shi'a Muslims is revealed during the night before the tournament. Later, Baba comments about the jealousy many Afghanis have when people assert that Iran is becoming a world power and Afghanistan is remaining a two-bit player in the world market, claiming he would rather be hurt by the truth than find comfort in a lie. The section closes with Hassan stating he likes where he lives because "it's my home."
Although this is a short chapter, many significant things occur in the four episodes. The first episode serves as the exposition to the chapter, transitioning from the growing-up narrative to the specifics of kite flying, returning to one of the most important symbols in the text — the kite. Hassan is clearly identified as the kite runner — and readers need to be asking themselves whether this novel about Hassan rather than Amir. Or about the effect Hassan has on Amir. Based on the information Amir has already supplied, Hassan is probably involved in the incident that has been hinted at since the opening line of The Kite Runner. And it is not too far-fetched to expect the incident to occur during the running of a kite, based on the title of the book as well as the fact that Amir just revealed that kite fighting occurs during the winter. Hosseini continues to add to the suspense even as he moves steadily toward the revelation.
The most significant line in the chapter may be when Hassan asks Amir, "Would I ever lie to you?" Not only does it address the thematic topic of truthfulness, but it also illustrates the difference between the two characters. Amir's jealousy and confusion with regard to the nature of relationships — his with Hassan, Hassan's with Ali, Baba's with Ali, and most important, Baba's with Hassan — are indicative of his struggle with truthfulness and the aftereffects that Amir's actions (and lack thereof) have on all of these relationships. Amir explicitly mentions Hassan's loyalty and his own integrity, again explicitly mentioning two important thematic topics of The Kite Runner.
Another interesting juxtaposition is the comparison of smiles: Amir's smile is forced, whereas Hassan's is natural. Forcing himself to smile indicates that Amir is not really happy. This is another example of appearance versus reality, which is another prevalent motif in the novel. Things are not always what they seem. Yet, Hassan seems to be too good to be true; Hassan seems to live for others; Hassan is an ideal friend and brother.
Two seemingly minor lines actually have great importance. The first occurs during Amir's discussion of kite fighting. At one point, Amir states that "Afghans cherish customs but abhor rules." This emphasizes a sense of cultural tradition — a tradition that many Afghanis will hold onto, even when they are no longer in Afghanistan. The hating of rules brings to mind the saying, "The only rule is 'there are no rules.'" This foreshadows the fighting and insurgency that will rock the nation for many years. The second line is an explicit comment about God — "if He exists" — which demonstrates Amir's ambivalence about a supreme being. This lack of faith, yet desire to turn toward something greater than himself, permeates the novel.
Not wanting to fail his father, readers will find Amir ends up failing both Hassan and himself. The curious thing is that even though Baba says, "better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie," this may not, ironically, be truthful. Baba specifically refers to the political situation in Afghanistan, but his comment also refers to personal relationships as well.