Summary and Analysis Chapter 21



As Amir and Farid travel north to his father's house, they see a dead body and a man selling his artificial leg. As Amir arrives, he remembers playing with Hassan in the yard. The house is not as large and magnificent as Amir remembers, and it is in a state of disarray. Amir climbs the hill and finds the old pomegranate tree and the inscription carved into the trunk: "Amir and Hassan. The Sultans of Kabul." Amir sits and looks at the war-torn remains of the city of his youth.

After visiting his father's house, Amir and Farid head toward Pashtunistan Square. He rents a room at a small, rundown hotel. That night, Farid and Amir share stories of their lives and exchange Mullah Nasruddin jokes.

The next day, Amir and Farid go to Ghazi Stadium to find the man with the black sunglasses. Despite the heat, the players are wearing long pants. At halftime of the soccer game, the sign of the Taliban (the red trucks) enter the field. The entertainment is the public stoning of two people accused of adultery. Using the word of God as their excuse, the Talibs murder both the man and the woman. Although Amir is unable to watch the stoning, the noise of the crowd lets him know what is going on. In the end, Farid is able to successfully arrange a meeting that afternoon with the Talib who wears the black sunglasses.


Amir explicitly states the symbolism of the house when he says, "Like so much else in Kabul, my father's house was the picture of fallen splendor." Baba's life, like his house, is one of fallen splendor, and both Baba and the General represent the part of society that no longer exists. Physically, both Baba's house and the pomegranate tree represent a world that has passed on. Farid instructs Amir to "Just forget it all. [Forgetting] makes it easier." But when one is unable to forget, it is not easier. Not only can Amir not forget his past, but he also knows that the only way life will be better for him is if he faces his past. And that is what Amir is doing.

Mullah Nasruddin jokes are the equivalent of "dumb blonde" jokes and are used to show the similarity between Afghan and American cultures. Jokes made at the expense of another group of people, usually those who are not in the majority or who are easy targets, exist in most societies. In addition to demonstrating the similarities between cultures, the jokes exist to demonstrate how humor is often used as a means of dealing with stressful and difficult situations. And humor can forge a bond between relative strangers by finding common ground between the two.

This chapter also illustrates the hypocrisy of the Taliban. Baba once said, "God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands," based on his belief that the Taliban was self-righteous and hypocritical. And Baba was correct. Many critics of the Taliban contend that the Taliban does not follow the teaching of the Koran but rather uses its interpretation of the Koran to further its own agenda.