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The Kite Runner | Chapter 25 | Summary

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Summary

The final chapter opens in the hospital. For the first time in over 15 years, Amir prays to God and promises to be devout for the rest of his life if He only grants him this wish: "My hands are stained with Hassan's blood; I pray God doesn't let them get stained with the blood of his boy too."

Sohrab survives but remains hospitalized, on suicide watch. When Amir tries to talk to him he is met with silence. Amir reads aloud to him from the story about Rostam and Sohrab. When Sohrab finally speaks he says that he's tired of everything.

A week later Amir and Sohrab land in America. Soraya had turned the upstairs study into Sohrab's bedroom, filled with brightly colored sheets with kite designs, inscriptions on the wall, books, a locomotive, and a watercolor set. She had planned swimming classes, soccer, and bowling leagues. But Sohrab quietly sleepwalks through their lives. During Sohrab's silence the Twin Towers tumble, and America bombs Afghanistan. Amir and Soraya become involved trying to raise funds for a hospital that treats Afghan refugees with land mine injuries—partly out of a sense of civil duty and partly to fill the black hole that Sohrab has created around him.

About a year after Sohrab arrived they are in the park for an Afghan New Year celebration. Soraya excitedly points out a half-dozen kites in the sky and then points to a guy selling kites nearby.

Amir tests the string with his fingers, and when it reddens with blood, he smiles. He brings the kite to Sohrab. At first he tells stories about how kites were used in Malaysia and ancient China. Then he wets his index finger and holds it up, while telling Sohrab that his father used to kick up dust with his sandal to see which way the wind blew and that his father was the best kite-runner in their district. He asks Sohrab if he wants to help him fly the kite. Sohrab looks at the kite, at Amir, and at the sky. Amir begins to run with the kite, and Sohrab follows close behind. When Amir holds the string out Sohrab takes his hand out of his pocket, hesitates, and then takes it. When another kite closes in Sohrab hands the string back and takes the spool. Together they fight the kite, with Amir directing, explaining, and predicting the movements: "Watch, Sohrab. I'm going to show you one of your father's favorite tricks, the old lift-and-dive." Sohrab gives a brief and small lopsided smile when they cut down the other kite. Then Amir asks if Sohrab wants him to run down the kite for him.

Sohrab nods, and Amir tells him, "For you, a thousand times over."

Analysis

"In Afghanistan, the ending was all that mattered," the narrator says. When Hassan and Amir came home from a Hindi movie all people wanted to know was if there were happiness at the end. But Amir writes, "If someone were to ask me today whether the story of Hassan, Sohrab, and me ends with happiness, I wouldn't know what to say." According to an Afghan saying, "Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end, kamyab, nah-kam, crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis."

Yet as a novelist writing a fictional story, Hosseini has control over the ending; so knowing that the ending matters to most readers he would not leave them unsatisfied, especially not when the rest of his writing is so deliberately crafted.

Thus the ending is both somewhat open and uncertain (in order to preserve the idea that Amir is writing a memoir that mirrors life), yet it also resolves many of the earlier conflicts and connects neatly to the rest of the novel.

An example of resolution is the scene where Amir stands up to the general for calling Sohrab a "Hazara boy." While this does not require as much physical courage as standing up to Assef, it shows an emotional and moral backbone: Amir will no longer allow the social divisions that he and Hassan grew up with to inflict pain or shame on anyone else within his presence; he is also not going to bend over backwards to seek the approval or affection of a father figure (this is not so impressive because he is a grown man, and the general is very different from Baba).

An example of uncertainty is focused on Sohrab. The novel cannot end with him being assured of happiness because that would belittle the traumatic depths of his losses and experiences. But his smile gives hope. Perhaps Sohrab's character represents Afghanistan during and after the Taliban—both were besieged by violent abuses of power, and both have a long road to recovery.

Finally an example of both resolution and uncertainty can be found in the final scene where Amir and Sohrab fly a kite together. This helps Amir to resolve his guilt over not being so good a friend to Hassan since he's trying to be a good friend to his son. Both Hassan and Amir knew how to fly kites, but because of his status, Hassan was usually the assistant holding the spool while Amir did the flying. Here Amir hands the kite string to Sohrab, who hesitates because he's never actually flown a kite before (at first this was because being outside was unsafe, and later it was because the Taliban banned kite fighting). Thus being able to fly a kite could represent a sense of safety and freedom for Sohrab.

When another kite closes in Sohrab hands the string back and takes the spool to allow the more experienced Amir to both fight and teach. In the past when Amir cut down a kite, Hassan ran down the trophy for him (despite having assisted in the tournament, Hassan got no trophy or glory). But here Amir cuts the kite and offers to run it down for Sohrab. In the past Amir brought home a trophy retrieved by Hassan in order to win Baba's approval for himself; that trophy marked the beginning of his separation from Hassan. Now Amir is trying to bring home a trophy for Sohrab in order to celebrate their teamwork. In running off to do so, he utters the same line to Sohrab that Hassan once shouted: "For you, a thousand times over."

The reader does not know whether Amir actually succeeds in running down the kite or whether he gets outrun or outmaneuvered by a swarm of screaming children. There is a possibility of shame in the situation—but that's only if he cares what people think. He doesn't, because getting the kite for Sohrab is more important for him and their future.

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