The Kite Runner | Study Guide

Khaled Hosseini

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The Kite Runner | Chapter 10 | Summary



Chapter 10 picks up five years after the departure of Ali and Hassan. Soviet soldiers have invaded Afghanistan, so Amir and Baba are fleeing to Pakistan under the cover of darkness, with the help of a smuggler named Karim.

During the drive to Pakistan they are stopped at a checkpoint, where a Soviet soldier demands money and a half hour with a young female passenger. Baba stands up to the Soviet soldier and says to Karim, "Tell him I'll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place." Amir is upset and afraid that Baba's heroic nature is going to get them all killed. This moment also reminds him of how unheroic he had been in a similar situation.

A gun roars. But this comes from an older Soviet officer, who had shot in the air to stop the younger soldier from shooting Baba in the chest. After apologizing for his comrade's behavior, he waves them along.

They arrive in Jalalabad, from where Karim's brother is supposed to take them to Peshawar. The truck's engine had blown and the brother was waiting for parts. This infuriates Baba. If the woman he had defended earlier had not begged him to stop, he would've killed Karim.

Their group joins a larger group of refugees. Amir recognizes Kamal, but Kamal looks hollow and lifeless. Through snippets of overheard conversation, Amir discovers that Kamal's mother had been shot and Kamal had been gang raped.

After a week in a rat-infested basement, they climb into a fuel truck. The inside of the truck is pitch-black, and the air is thick and fiery. Having difficulty breathing, Amir is scared. Baba tells him to think of something good and happy. Amir's mind wanders to flying a kite with Hassan.

The truck finally arrives in Pakistan, and Amir is saddened by the realization that all of Baba's hard work is now summed up by two suitcases and one disappointing son.

The chapter ends when Amir hears someone wailing—it is Kamal's father, who has noticed that Kamal is not breathing. Before he can be stopped the father grabs a gun from Karim and shoots himself.


The five-year gap between chapters allows the author to move his fictional story along the historical timeframe of Afghanistan. It also allows for contrasts. While the first regime change did not affect Amir and Baba, this second one drastically changes their lives. The possibility of betrayal is everywhere. The atmosphere of Kabul reflects the atmosphere that Amir had created in their household for Hassan and Ali. Thus both pairs of fathers and sons must leave.

The shifting nature of power is also emphasized by the reintroduction of Kamal's character: he was once a part of Assef's gang and had aided in Hassan's rape, but he later became a victim of gang rape. Having tasted power Kamal is unable to cope with its loss. In contrast Hassan does not have any outward power, but he has an inner strength and a sense of integrity that cannot be broken or corrupted by power.

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