Summary and Analysis
Chapter 4 opens with the back story of Ali, who was orphaned and welcomed into the home of Amir's grandfather, a respected judge. Ali and Baba grew up as playmates. Yet Amir comments that Baba never refers to Ali as his friend. Amir rationalizes this due to the history of the region, their religions, and their culture.
Amir describes his relationship with Hassan and the role each played in the daily workings of their lives. Education, and the lack thereof, is a major difference between the two boys. Amir tries to use his literacy to prove his superiority to Hassan, yet Hassan can solve the riddles Amir quizzes him with, so Amir stops sharing them. Likewise, if Hassan wouldn't know a word, Amir would tell him an incorrect definition. Amir would later placate his own guilt by giving Hassan an old shirt or broken toy.
Hassan's favorite book is the Shahnamah, and his favorite story is "Rostam and Sohrab," the story of a father who knowingly kills a man who is unknowingly his son. Stories about heroes and what it means to be one are another important motif in The Kite Runner. Amir uses the stories in the Shahnamah to compare and contrast the story of Amir and Hassan. And Amir is not nearly as admirable as Hassan is.
One time, when Amir is reading to Hassan, Amir decides to deviate from the written text, believing he is tricking Hassan; however, Hassan is delighted by the story that Amir tells. Amir writes his first short story, attempts to share it with his father but instead receives encouragement from Rahim Khan. After receiving the note of encouragement, Amir wakes up Hassan and shares his story with him. Hassan loves the story but also points out "the Plot Hole" that Amir had missed. Just as Amir is attempting to answer, "Afghanistan changed forever."
Ali and Baba were playmates, a situation that is repeated and paralleled by Hassan and Amir in the next generation. Amir metaphorically follows his father's footsteps as he fails to call Hassan his friend. Because both Ali and Hassan are Hazara, they are distinctly below Baba and Amir. The Sunni and the Shi'a don't mix. The effect of religious and cultural differences is explored throughout The Kite Runner but is extremely apparent in these relationships.
Amir compares his first twelve years, growing up with Hassan, to a "long lazy summer day," which contrasts with the shocking event of the winter day that will move Amir from childhood to adulthood. Instead of using a single year to symbolize the stages of Amir's life, Hosseini uses the seasons to symbolize different emotional states in Amir's existence.
Storytelling is another important motif in The Kite Runner, and the story emphasized from the Shahnamah is one of mistaken identities and fathers and sons, supporting the thematic topic of relationships, which is the heart of The Kite Runner. Baba refuses to offer to read Amir's short story, yet Amir does not back down. In one of the "longest minutes of my life" Amir stands up to his father because writing is important to him. This incident displays the strong-willed nature of both Baba and Amir, simultaneously illustrating the similarities and differences between father and son.
Hassan's response to Amir's story furthers his character's development. Hassan's line, "people
will read your stories" not only foreshadows Amir's future vocation but also illustrates Hassan's knowledge, insight, and dedication to Amir. Unlike Amir, Hassan is not morally ambiguous. Instead, his character serves as a foil to demonstrate Amir's shortcomings and to provide a point of comparison.
Throughout The Kite Runner, Hosseini blends character, plot, and thematic development, while intermixing flashback with foreshadowing. Hosseini's style and narrative technique continues to build suspense as more information is revealed, thus having the readability of popular fiction, but it is the recurring motifs mixed with the character and thematic development that make The Kite Runner a contemporary classic.