Summary and Analysis
On the morning of the tournament, Hassan shares a dream with Amir. The dream is about an alleged monster and how together they demonstrate bravery, friendship, and leadership and prove to people that it is safe to swim in the lake. When Amir hesitates when they should be starting for the tournament, Hassan encourages him, saying, "There's no monster, just a beautiful day."
And Amir has an excellent day fighting on this beautiful day. After hours of flying and fighting, he is one of the two finalists. Finally, with a bit of luck and skill, and Hassan's help and guidance, Amir wins. But, when an ever-loyal Hassan states, "You won," Amir corrects him with "We won." Hassan then takes off to run the blue kite for Amir, and after Amir yells for him to come back with it, Hassan replies, "for you a thousand times over!" Smiling, Hassan takes off after the kite.
Searching for Hassan and the kite, Amir is pointed toward the bazaar. An old man eventually points him in the right direction and tells Amir that although Hassan has the blue kite, the other boys have probably caught him already. The other boys were Assef, Wali, and Kamal. By the time Amir finds them, they have Hassan captured in an alley. Assef initially demands the blue kite in order to allow Hassan to leave, but Hassan refuses. Assef then taunts Hassan with the nature of the relationship between Hassan and Amir. When Hassan is undaunted, Assef changes tactics. Amir opens his mouth to say something, but he does not.
Then the narrative breaks, and two memories and a dream are inserted. The first memory was Ali telling Amir that he and Hassan fed from the same breast. The second, and longer memory, is a visit to a fortune teller who seemingly knows of Hassan's horrific future, so instead of sharing it with him, he give Hassan his money back. In the dream, Amir is lost in a snow storm. A hand reaches to guide him and leads Amir to safety.
As Assef sodomizes Hassan, Amir compares the look he sees on Hassan's face to that of the sacrificial lamb. A flashback explains the comparison, as Amir remembers a lamb that was led to the slaughter and has a look of resignation on its face.
Again Amir has the opportunity to stand up for Hassan or to run. In his own words, he says "In the end, I ran. I ran because I was a coward." Amir attempts to rationalize his decision with the dehumanizing thought that Hassan was "just a Hazara." Amir hides until after Assef and the other boys leave, and then he finds Hassan. Hassan relinquishes the kite, yet he and Amir do not discuss what had happened. Amir pretends not to hear the crack in Hassan's voice nor notice the stain on Hassan's pants.
The chapter ends with Amir entering Baba's study, moving toward his father's arms full body embrace. The final lines are "In his arms, I forgot what I'd done. And that was good."
The narrative begins with a dream, which mirrors the dreamlike state Amir is in as he watches the nightmare. The word dream is an important motif in The Kite Runner, though usually it is the metaphorical dream — the desires, the aspirations. One of the most important aspects of this motif is the dual nature of dreams — sweet dreams and nightmares. A nightmare is what Amir watches and Hassan experiences, but because he doesn't do anything about Hassan's attack, Amir lives in a nightmare for the next twenty-five years.
At breakfast, when Hassan is sharing his dream in an attempt to soothe Amir, Amir is curt with Hassan. Afterward, Amir almost apologizes to Hassan, but he does not. This is typical of the cultural situation in which they live. Hassan is the loyal servant, and Amir is the almost aloof master.
The juxtaposition of the beautiful day with the ugly incident is another example of the motif of appearance versus reality. This motif is further developed with Amir's ambiguity toward religion — he's not sure if there's a God, but he says a prayer, rationalizing, "if there's a God, then He'll allow me to win." And Amir does win, though it is highly unlikely God played an active part in the victory. As usual, Hassan is focused on Amir. And, in an instant that may appear to be out of the ordinary, Amir includes Hassan in the victory. Yet, Hassan's inclusion is of a private nature. Hassan will not have the glory. And, as soon as the kite fight is won, Hassan is off to run the fallen kite for Amir. And Amir is going to take it from him. Hassan is also smiling as he takes off running, and Amir mentions that he will not see Hassan smile like that until twenty-six years later in a Polaroid picture.
After his victory, when Amir is searching for Hassan, the seemingly-defining moment of Amir's life takes place, and readers are shocked at the violence as well as at Amir's reaction. As shocking as it is, Amir's reaction is understandable, though. Amir is but a child, and a child of privilege, and not very strong physically, emotionally, or spiritually. But clearly, it is not the event, or Amir's actions during it, that are the focal point of the novel, but rather, Amir's response in the days, weeks, months, and years afterward. The Kite Runner is a bildungsroman, and unlike many protagonists, Amir's actions are hardly heroic.
In Chapter 1, Amir alluded to his crouching in the alley in the winter of 1975, and initially it seems as though the event in the alley was going to be the climax of the plot. When that event occurs roughly one-third of the way into the novel, however, readers realize that it is not just the actual event itself that has had such an impact on Amir, but rather, that the aftermath and aftereffects of Amir's nonactions will play a much larger role in Amir's development. Amir ends the chapter with a statement of finality but, clearly, the effects of the event are far from over. And Amir may tell himself "And that was good," but the reader already knows that Amir is haunted by this event for more than the next quarter century. But it is not just Amir's inaction in the alley that haunts him — for Amir does something far worse in the chapters to come.