The Kite Runner | Study Guide

Khaled Hosseini

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The Kite Runner | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 6 starts with one word: winter. Young Amir loves winter. Not only does he love the beauty and feel of the snow and sky, but he also loves that school is suspended and he could spend his days playing with Hassan. The chill of the season also brings on a thaw in his relationship with Baba. This is because every winter in Kabul, districts hold a kite-fighting tournament, which is a physical competition that Amir and Hassan both enjoy and excel at.

Amir compares kite fighting to war. To prepare for battle, Amir and Hassan would save their allowances all year in order to buy supplies to build their kites. Then they would spend days shaving, cutting, stringing, drying, and winding. At the end of a kite-fighting season, boys would proudly compare the battle scars on their fingers.

The rules of kite fighting are simple: "No rules. Fly your kite. Cut the opponents. Good luck." But the fight doesn't actually end when a kite is cut down. That's when another fight begins: kids would chase the drifting kite through the neighborhoods until it lands and could be retrieved. Once a kite runner gets his hands on a kite, custom dictates that no one can take the kite from him.

In Amir's opinion Hassan is by far the greatest kite runner: "It was downright eerie the way he always got to the spot the kite would land before the kite did, as if he had some sort of inner compass." To illustrate this point, he tells of a day when they both ran down a kite together. While Amir was trying to trace the kite in the sky, Hassan bolted with his head down, shouting "This way!" and "Trust me!" Even though Amir thought they had lost the kite, Hassan ran to a spot, sat down cross-legged, and said, "It's coming." After a time Hassan stood, and the kite just dropped into his open arms.

The night before the tournament in 1975, Baba says that he thinks Amir will win this year's tournament, which makes Amir more determined to "show him once and for all that his son was worthy."

Analysis

The author uses this chapter to give readers a glimpse of Afghani customs and attitudes surrounding kites. Although kites have not been mentioned since Chapter 1, they are both physically and symbolically important to the characters and to the novel's themes. Here the focus is on showing how Amir and Hassan's relationships to actual kites reflect and affect them as individuals and as a team.

Because Amir and Hassan's handmade kites are often doomed by design flaws, Baba takes them to buy kites from the city's most famous kite maker. Amir's jealousy flares when Baba insists on buying him and Hassan kites of equal size—for just once, Amir wants to feel special and more important to Baba. This can be seen as a selfish and childish attitude since Amir enjoys a lot more comforts in the big house with Baba than Hassan does in his mud hut with Ali.

Every kite fighter has an assistant who holds the spool and feeds the line to the flyer. Because Hassan is Amir's servant, he is also Amir's kite-fighting assistant. When Amir succeeds in cutting his opponent's kite Hassan would run it down for him. This is a role that Hassan cheerfully accepts. Even in direct competition, such as a game of cards, Hassan would let Amir win. Despite understanding that Amir holds direct power over him (he says that he would eat dirt if Amir asked him to), Hassan has a genuine sense of loyalty and dignity that would be deeply hurt by Amir's misuse of power (thus he tests Amir's integrity by asking whether he would ever ask him to eat dirt).

Although this chapter focuses on happy images of winter, it also suggests that everyone does not see the season this way. This sets up a contrast to the pivotal event of the winter of 1975, which the narrator keeps mentioning but does not develop until Chapter 7.

Documents for Chapter 6

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Questions for Chapter 6

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