Course Hero. "The Kite Runner Study Guide." Course Hero. 2 Sep. 2016. Web. 2 June 2023. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Kite-Runner/>.
Course Hero. (2016, September 2). The Kite Runner Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 2, 2023, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Kite-Runner/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "The Kite Runner Study Guide." September 2, 2016. Accessed June 2, 2023. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Kite-Runner/.
Course Hero, "The Kite Runner Study Guide," September 2, 2016, accessed June 2, 2023, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Kite-Runner/.
This penultimate chapter is set in Islamabad. At a hotel Amir turns on the TV for Sohrab. Stone faced, Sohrab rocks back and forth as he watches the images flit across the screen. Amir steps out of the room to say goodbye to Farid and hand him an envelope with payment for his help. When he returns the TV is off, and Sohrab is curled up on the bed. Still in deep pain Amir takes a couple of pills and falls asleep.
When he wakes up Sohrab is missing. In a panic he hobbles down to the lobby, where he does not get much help until the manager asks if Sohrab has any interests.
Amir remembers that Sohrab leaned out the car window to stare at the Shah Faisal Mosque, so he offers to pay the manager to take him there. At the mosque Amir finds Sohrab sitting in the parking lot. Wincing in pain as he bends, Amir sits next to Sohrab. After a long silence in which they listen to the call to prayer and watch as the building lights up, Sohrab starts talking about another mosque that his father had taken him to. When Sohrab admits that he is starting to forget the faces of his parents, Amir takes the picture from his coat pocket and gives it to him.
Sohrab begins to cry, wondering if he will go to hell for disfiguring Assef. "Father used to say it's wrong to hurt even bad people. Because they don't know any better, and because bad people sometimes become good." Amir gives a general summary of how he and his father knew Assef, and tries to reassure Sohrab with these words: "There are bad people in this world, and sometimes bad people stay bad. Sometimes you have to stand up to them."
Sohrab then says that he is glad his parents are dead so that they don't have to know how dirty and sinful he has become. Amir tries to reassure Sohrab with words and a soft touch. When Sohrab draws away, Amir promises he won't hurt him. Then Sohrab lets Amir hug him while he convulses in sobs. With the bright lights of the house of God shining on them, Amir decides this is the right time to ask whether Sohrab wants to go to America.
A week goes by and Amir reveals to Sohrab that he and his father were brothers, and explains why he and his father never knew. Later Sohrab asks about San Francisco, admitting that he has been thinking about it, but he is scared to go because Amir might get tired of him or his wife won't like him. Amir promises him this won't happen. Crying, Sohrab doesn't say anything for a long time. But then he finally squeezes Amir's hand back and nods and nods.
When Amir explains everything to Soraya, she is overwhelmed at first but then insists that Amir bring Sohrab home with him. At the American embassy an official curtly tells Amir to give up the adoption because Sohrab is not legally considered an orphan since there are no death certificates for his parents; instead he recommends sending money to a reputable relief organization. When Amir questions whether the official has the empathy needed for his job, the official gives Amir the card of an immigration lawyer.
The lawyer tells Amir that a country in turmoil is not going to prioritize processing adoptions. Even if they could get past the bureaucratic red tape they would face opposition from Sharia laws that don't recognize adoption. The lawyer lays out three options: (1) move to Pakistan to live with Sohrab for two years and then file for an independent adoption; (2) seek political asylum or a humanitarian visa on Sohrab's behalf; (3) relinquish Sohrab to a Pakistani orphanage, file an orphan petition, request an INS home study by an adoption agency, and go home to America to wait.
The lawyer says that the third option is their best shot at a successful adoption. Amir breaks the news of this possibility to Sohrab, and Sohrab breaks down in tears and pleas.
Later that night Soraya calls to tell Amir that all he has to do is bring Sohrab into America because once he's in, they can find ways to keep him. Amir calls out to Sohrab, who is in the bathroom, to tell him the good news. He pushes open the door and screams at what he sees.
The setting is significant at this point in the novel: Amir observes that Islamabad seems like the city Kabul could have become someday. This symbolically represents where Amir is in terms of his connection to his past, present, and future. The Kabul of his childhood no longer exists and no longer haunts him. It had the opportunity to turn into a city like Islamabad, but the Taliban's presence makes that impossible. With its modern architecture and technology, Islamabad is more similar to America, which is where Amir plans to spend the rest of his life. Thus Islamabad is like limbo.
The idea of Islamabad as limbo is emphasized by the obstacles Amir faces in trying to adopt Sohrab. At first Sohrab says he doesn't mind the waiting because he learned his lesson when he got sick from eating unripe apples. But when Amir explains that he might have to wait with some kids in an orphanage, Sohrab is horrified because his experience in a Kabul orphanage resulted in him being abused by Assef. The effects of this abuse can be seen in Sohrab's withdrawn nature, flinching at Amir's touch, and nightly hour-long baths filled with hot water, soap, and scrubbing.
Thus for Sohrab, Kabul was hell. This idea is confirmed by Rahim's earlier words: "Kabul in those days, Amir jan, was as close as you could get to that proverbial hell on earth." Although he was talking about the civil war in 1995, the description also applies to a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.