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The Kite Runner | Quotes

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1.

Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.


Amir, Chapter 1

Amir's claim that the "past claws its way out" frames many of the book's themes. Amir spends his life trying to distance himself from his memories of the past that haunt him, especially the rape of Hassan in a deserted alley. He increasingly realizes that the repercussions of his decisions in the past are always with him, and that in some way he has stayed frozen in time until he can redeem himself.

2.

For you, a thousand times over!


Hassan, Chapter 1

This sentence, originally said by Hassan to Amir, opens up the novel as a mystery. The reader only finds out its context in Chapter 7 when it is revealed that Hassan says it to Amir before he goes to run the kite. It's also the last thing Hassan says to Amir before he is raped, and it haunts Amir for years because it reminds him both of Hassan's loyalty and his own lack of it. But Amir repeats the expression in the final chapter to Hassan's orphaned son, Sohrab, in order to connect to the past and atone for past inactions.

3.

There is a way to be good again.


Rahim, Chapter 1

Rahim makes this statement and Amir repeats it and understands the weight of what Rahim is suggesting. By the time the context is understood it is also understood that Rahim knows everything that happened between Amir and Hassan and is offering Amir a chance at redemption.

4.

Then he [Ali] would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break.


Amir, Chapter 2

Amir notes here that he and Hassan shared the same nurse since both of their mothers left soon after they were born. Ali reminds Amir and Hassan that they are bonded from sharing this source. His words are a foreshadowing—both that Amir and Hassan are half-brothers and that their bond will be severely tested.

5.

The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women.


Amir, Chapter 2

Amir recalls finding a book that describes the ethnic history of the Pashtuns (Amir) and the Hazaras (Hassan). This ethnic divide, even though Amir barely understands it, plays a large, unspoken role in their relationship. It is why Hassan is a servant, and why Amir has difficulty considering Hassan a friend despite how close they are. Hassan is born into poverty and servitude because of his ethnicity and because of their persecution by the majority Pashtuns.

6.

Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can't love a person who lives that way without fearing him too.


Amir, Chapter 3

Amir spends much of his childhood longing for Baba's approval and affection, but he knows his father is too intimidating and aloof. Baba is a complex character: charitable and tough, independent and vulnerable.

7.

There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft.


Baba, Chapter 3

Baba tells Amir this after Amir relays that his teacher told him that drinking was a sin. Baba, who is more liberal, disagrees, and tries to educate Amir on the sin of theft. Baba says that if you kill someone you rob his or her family. If you lie you rob them of the truth. In that way he tries to convince Amir that every sin is a variation on theft. This belief reveals some of the "black and white" ideals of Baba, and also some of his complicated hypocrisy—for he, too, stole honor from Ali when he fathered Hassan.

8.

A boy who won't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up to anything.


Baba, Chapter 3

Baba says this to Rahim in a conversation that Amir overhears. Baba is relaying his concerns that Amir is too soft, that he never fights back or stands up for himself. Rahim tries to defend Amir, but Baba's concern sticks with Amir because it is true—he doesn't stand up for Hassan. But those words ultimately encourage Amir to do the right thing—to rescue Sohrab.

9.

But in none of his stories did Baba ever refer to Ali as his friend.


Amir, Chapter 4

Amir hears that Baba and Ali grew up together and are close, yet he observes that they are fundamentally in a master-servant relationship and that Baba has never described Ali as his friend. This attitude is echoed in Amir with Hassan. Both Baba and Amir also betray their servant-friends in different ways.

10.

None of us had any notion that a way of life had ended. Our way of life.


Amir, Chapter 5

Amir recalls the memory of a coup. Amir's childhood up until this point has been relatively stable, but now things begin to fall apart politically in Afghanistan. This ultimately forces him and Baba to flee.

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