The Kite Runner

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The Kite Runner Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrative changes so that Rahim Khan is speaking in the first person as he tells his story. In 1986 he went to Hazarajat to find Hassan, both because he was lonely and because he was getting too old to take care of Baba’s house by himself. Rahim Khan found Hassan in a mud hut, but the only one in the village with a walled garden. Hassan was in the yard, and when he saw Rahim Khan he would not stop kissing his hands. Hassan took Rahim Khan inside and introduced him to his wife, a visibly-pregnant Hazara woman named Farzana. Hassan revealed that Ali had been killed by a land mine two years before.
Hassan finally returns to the narrative, and many of the novel’s earlier themes will begin to coalesce around his fate. Hassan has indeed married, like Amir, and he and Farzana have conceived a child, unlike Amir and Soraya. Ali dies in a very “Afghan” way, as many civilians were killed by buried mines left by various warring factions.
Themes
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
Rahim Khan invited Hassan and his wife to come back to Kabul and stay in Baba’s house, but Hassan said that Hazarajat was his home now. Hassan asked Rahim Khan many questions about Amir – whether he was happy, if he thought he could write him a letter (Hassan had learned to read and write) – and when he learned that Baba was dead, Hassan broke down and wept. Rahim Khan spent the night at the house, and in the morning Hassan agreed to go to Kabul with him and Farzana.
Clearly Hassan had forgiven Amir for his betrayals, and he wished to rekindle their friendship even as Amir tried to escape any memory of Hassan. Hassan also learned to read and write on his own, overcoming the disadvantage that Amir had once lorded over him.
Themes
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
When they arrived in Kabul, Hassan and Farzana insisted on staying in the servants’ hut instead of the big house. Hassan worked hard cleaning and preparing the house, as if readying it for Amir’s return. Farzana gave birth to a stillborn girl, who they buried in the yard. Outside the house war was raging, but inside was a safe haven. Hassan would read to Rahim Khan from Amir’s mother’s books, and Farzana became pregnant again.
Unlike Amir, Hassan is able to recapture some of his idyllic childhood in Baba’s house, though he insists on keeping his servant status. Hassan is now the one reading out loud to someone else, but the house is still a haven against the cruel, violent Afghanistan outside its walls.
Themes
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
One day that same year Sanaubar, Hassan’s mother, showed up at the gate of the house starving and with her face cut up. When Hassan first recognized her he fled, but when he returned he nursed her back to health, and the two became close. Sanaubar delivered Farzana’s baby, a boy that they named Sohrab after the character from “Rostam and Sohrab,” the story Hassan and Amir loved as children. Sanaubar loved and doted on the boy, and she lived until Sohrab turned four.
Though Sanaubar had “betrayed” Hassan by abandoning him, when she returns, Hassan is able to forgive her and welcome her back to his family. This scene shows the possible reunion Amir might have had with Hassan, had he returned. The fact that Hassan names his son “Sohrab” shows that Amir is still very present in Hassan’s thoughts.
Themes
Betrayal Theme Icon
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
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By then it was 1995, the Soviets were gone, and Kabul was ruled by rival Afghan groups that were constantly at war. Hassan taught Sohrab to read and write, so that he would not grow up illiterate like his father. In the winter Hassan took Sohrab kite running, though there were not as many tournaments as the old days. Sohrab was just as good a kite runner as his father had been.
The political begins to intrude on the personal again as Hassan starts to recreate his childhood with his own son. They do the same things – like flying kites – that Hassan and Amir had done together. We never see details of Hassan’s relationship with Sohrab, but it appears to be one of the healthiest father-and-son relationships of the book.
Themes
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
In 1996, however, the Taliban took over, and they banned kite fighting. Rahim Khan was optimistic about the Taliban, but Hassan knew that their regime meant danger for Hazaras – and two years later, the Taliban massacred the Hazaras in the town of Mazar-i-Sharif.
The racial oppression against Hazaras returns with greater danger when the Taliban take power. Hassan understands that the new, ultra-religious government will be even harsher against those with different beliefs, like the Shi’a Hazaras. The banning of kites is an especially poignant kind of violation.
Themes
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon