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The Kite Runner | Study Guide

Khaled Hosseini

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The Kite Runner | Chapter 3 | Summary



Chapter 3 starts with a local legend about Baba wrestling a bear with his bare hands. Nicknamed "Mr. Hurricane," Baba is "a force of nature, a towering Pashtun specimen with a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair as unruly as the man himself, hands that looked capable of uprooting a willow tree." When people tell him that he can't do something Baba goes out and proves them wrong, which he did with an orphanage, his marriage, and four successful businesses.

Despite feeling proud to be Baba's son, Amir also admits being afraid of Baba's ability to mold the world to his liking and to his visions of what is black and what is white: "You can't love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little."

Although Amir tries to play and watch soccer to please Baba, his lack of ability and passion are disappointing to his father. The distance between father and son grows when Amir overhears his father complain to Rahim that "there is something missing in that boy" because "a boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up to anything."

Amir copes with Baba's aloofness by becoming a voracious reader of his mother's old books, while Baba is glad that Rahim understands Amir, because he can't.

In a rare good moment between Amir and Baba, they discuss sin. This includes a warning against confusing learning in school with actual education and a description of mullahs as "self-righteous monkeys." Mullahs are men usually respected as learned in Islamic texts and sacred law. Many mullahs are Islamic clerics or leaders in local mosques, religious schools, and religious centers. Baba tells Amir that there is only one sin: "Every other sin is a variation of theft." He explains: "When you kill a man, you steal a life" and "When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth."


This chapter suggests that both Amir and Baba feel a certain unspoken amount of guilt in their relationship with each other: Amir for having killed his mother in childbirth and Baba for not understanding Amir as much as he should. This underlying guilt affects nearly all their interactions, complicating their relationship. Amir is constantly vying for Baba's approval, while also knowing that he can never be the son Baba hoped for. Far from being a force of nature like Baba, Amir cannot stand up for himself or even play soccer without being ignored by his own teammates. Because Amir is so different from him, Baba thinks there is something missing in his son and almost wonders if Amir is his son. Fortunately for Amir, Rahim disagrees with Baba, so with Baba's appreciation Rahim serves as a substitute father (or even mother) figure who offers the kindness, understanding, and encouragement that the young boy needs.

While highlighting the conflict between Amir and Baba, the chapter also shows how this dysfunctional relationship leads to conflict between Amir and Hassan. Jealous of Baba's affectionate pride in Hassan, Amir lies and snaps to keep the other boy away.

The sin scene shows a positive bonding moment between father and son, and it also sets up a later action and discovery by Amir. It also serves to reveal the author's views about religion, which become more significant when the Taliban takes over Afghanistan. Through Baba the author supports a more liberal form of morality than a mullah. While a conservative Muslim would condemn drinking as a sin, Baba does not because he enjoys his whiskey, yet he does not indulge to excess. His view of theft as being the only sin is more forgiving of human nature than the differentiation of sins; to assume that theft is the only sin is also to assume that every man has rights (whether to his own life or to a loaf of bread) that others should not take away from him.

Documents for Chapter 3

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Questions for Chapter 3

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Using what you have learned in Ch 3. Summarizing and Responding , I would like you to summarize Richard Rodriguez's opening for his book, Brown . I'm not sure your experience with writing summaries, b
Learning Resources Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus. Required Readin
Choose one of the readings from chapters 2-6 and summarize, explain, and evaluate the main points of the reading in a minimum of 3 paragraphs. Do not simply cut and paste from the reading, but summari
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