The Kite Runner

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Kites Symbol Icon
Kites are obviously an important image in The Kite Runner, and for Amir they act as symbols of both his childhood happiness and his betrayal of Hassan. When he tries to remember something happy in the fuel truck, Amir immediately thinks of his carefree days flying kites with Hassan. After Hassan’s rape, however, kites become a reminder of Amir’s betrayal and guilt. In the novel’s political theme, kites represent Afghanistan’s “glory days” of the monarchy, as kite-flying is later banned by the Taliban. At the end of the book Amir flies a kite with Sohrab, symbolizing hope for redemption for both Amir’s sins and Afghanistan’s.

Kites Quotes in The Kite Runner

The The Kite Runner quotes below all refer to the symbol of Kites. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Betrayal Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of The Kite Runner published in 2013.
Chapter 4 Quotes

The curious thing was, I never thought of Hassan and me as friends either… Never mind that we spent entire winters flying kites, running kites. Never mind that to me, the face of Afghanistan is that of a boy with a thin-boned frame… a boy with Chinese doll face perpetually lit by a harelipped smile. Never mind any of these things. Because history isn’t easy to overcome. Neither is religion. In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara, I was Sunni and he was Shi’a, and nothing was ever going to change that.

Related Characters: Amir (speaker), Hassan
Related Symbols: Kites, The Cleft Lip
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Amir reflects on his relationship with Hassan, who was like a brother to him, but whom he never really thought of as a friend because of their ethnic, cultural, religious, and economic differences. Amir is a Pashtun (an Afghan ethnic group) and a Sunni Muslim, while Hassan is a Hazara (a persecuted minority) and a Shi'a Muslim. Furthermore, Hassan and his father work for Amir and his father—they are all very close, but Hassan and Ali are also clearly the subordinates of Baba and Amir. These political and social differences then ultimately affect the actual relationship between Amir and Hassan, although otherwise the two would be best friends. Testament to this is the fact that when the adult Amir remembers Afghanistan, he thinks of Hassan's face and of the two boys' time together. His present vision of the country is primarily an image of a lost past.

Here Amir also mentions the symbols of kites and Hassan's cleft lip. In this particular memory, kites represent Amir's idyllic past in an Afghanistan that was at peace, while the cleft lip is one of Hassan's distinguishing features—and particularly distinguishing for the Hassan who existed before Baba had his lip fixed, and before Amir betrayed him.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Kite Runner quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Chapter 6 Quotes

I was going to win, and I was going to run that last kite. Then I’d bring it home and show it to Baba. Show him once and for all that his son was worthy.

Related Characters: Amir (speaker), Baba
Related Symbols: Kites
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

Amir is preparing for a big upcoming kite tournament, and he decides that this tournament will be a way for him to win Baba's affection and prove himself worthy as Baba's son. In order to truly win Baba's admiration, Amir decides that his must not only be the last kite in the sky, cutting all the others down, but he must also "run" the final defeated kite (find it when it falls and bring it back). This again speaks to the father-son relationship between Amir and Baba, in which Amir feels that he is a disappointment and embarrassment to his father. It also shows Amir's childlike desire for "redemption"—he feels he must somehow prove himself or achieve a tangible victory in order to earn Baba's love.

Chapter 14 Quotes

My suspicions had been right all those years. He knew about Assef, the kite, the money, the watch with the lightning bolt hands. He had always known.

Come. There is a way to be good again, Rahim Khan had said on the phone just before hanging up.

Related Characters: Amir (speaker), Hassan, Assef, Rahim Khan
Related Symbols: Kites
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:

Rahim Khan is dying, and he has just called Amir to ask him to come to Pakistan and see him. Amir has been building a new, happy life in America with Soraya, but with this phone call it's as if his past catches up with him once more. Rahim Khan's phrase "there is a way to be good again" then becomes a kind of mantra for the second half of the novel, as Amir tries to redeem himself for his past betrayals through taking action of his own. This moment is also important because Amir realizes that his past has not been as secret as he thought—Rahim Khan knew all along what Amir did to Hassan. This is crucial because it shows that Rahim Khan never gave up on Amir despite his sins, and even now feels that Amir has the opportunity to create something good out of his past mistakes.

Chapter 25 Quotes

“Do you want me to run that kite for you?”
His Adam’s apple rose and fell as he swallowed… I thought I saw him nod.
“For you, a thousand times over,” I heard myself say.
Then I turned and ran.
It was only a smile, nothing more… A tiny thing… But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.

Related Characters: Amir (speaker), Sohrab
Related Symbols: Kites
Page Number: 371
Explanation and Analysis:

This poignant passage closes the book on a note of uncertainty, but also of hope. Kites return as the novel's most important symbol, here representing Amir's happy past and old friendship with Hassan, and also the potential of future happiness with Sohrab, Hassan's son. Sohrab is still traumatized and won't speak, but here he shows the first signs of healing—a small smile as he flies a kite with Amir, his new father-figure.

This passage also has a dramatic symmetry to it, as Amir repeats the words Hassan spoke to him years before, just before the rape that changed both their lives: "For you, a thousand times over." Hassan had been the "kite runner" of the novel's title, but now Amir is the one saying these words and running a kite—not for Hassan, but for Hassan's son. This suggests that Amir has finally found a kind of redemption through his actions, and he can relive his past and memories without the pain and guilt he once felt. It's also implied that in becoming the new "kite runner," Amir more fully assumes the good qualities that once existed in Hassan, and thus Amir becomes closer to his lost half-brother. The past is always repeating itself in the present, but now that his past pain has been partially healed, Amir no longer has to flee his memories of flying kites with Hassan—he can embrace them, while also looking forward to the potential of a better future with Sohrab.

Get the entire The Kite Runner LitChart as a printable PDF.
The kite runner.pdf.medium

Kites Symbol Timeline in The Kite Runner

The timeline below shows where the symbol Kites appears in The Kite Runner. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Betrayal Theme Icon
Redemption Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...he lives in San Francisco now. He walks around Golden Gate Park and watches two kites flying overhead. The kites make Amir think of his past in Afghanistan, and especially a... (full context)
Chapter 6
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
...of Kabul, as school is closed because of snow and everyone spends their time flying kites. Amir finds the icy city beautiful, and flying kites together is when he and Baba... (full context)
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
The highlight of the winter is the annual kite-fighting tournament, where boys go to war with their kites by covering the kite strings in... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Amir says that Hassan is the best kite runner in Kabul – he always seems to know exactly where a kite will fall... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
...Amir is ashamed. Amir pretends it was just a joke, and at that moment the kite falls into Hassan’s arms. (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
One night soon before the big kite tournament of 1975 Baba and Amir are sitting by the fire, talking, when Baba casually... (full context)
Chapter 7
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
...to comfort him. He does feel a little better, and they start to fly their kite. (full context)
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...(and Hassan, who controls the spool of string) do well and keep flying. One blue kite in particular cuts many of its opponents, and Amir keeps his eye on it. By... (full context)
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...prays that he might win and so redeem himself to Baba. Amir tricks the blue kite into a bad position and then cuts it, winning the tournament. Amir and Hassan cheer... (full context)
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Amir reels in his kite and accepts everyone’s praise, but he wants to wait until he has the blue kite... (full context)
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...three boys. Amir searches everywhere and finally finds Hassan in an alleyway, holding the blue kite – which Amir thinks of as the “key to Baba’s heart” – and facing off... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Assef tells Hassan that they will let him go if he hands over the blue kite. Hassan refuses, as he ran the kite fairly and must deliver it to Amir. Assef... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...the hand and the snow disappears, and the sky is clear and filled with beautiful kites. (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
...afraid of Assef, but it was also something worse. He had thought that the blue kite was his key to winning Baba’s love, and Amir was willing to sacrifice Hassan for... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
...and Amir pretends he has been looking for him. He can’t help checking the blue kite for rips. Hassan is crying and blood falls from between his legs, staining the snow,... (full context)
Chapter 8
Betrayal Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
...stay in bed all day. Ali asks Amir if he knows what happened after the kite tournament, but Amir rudely denies knowing anything. Amir and Baba decide to take a trip... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...and friends to come along too. In the car Amir’s relatives praise him for his kite fighting victory, but Amir gets no joy from their praise and in fact gets car... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...last forever, even though it is only held together by something as fragile as a kite. Hassan keeps trying to rekindle their friendship. One day he asks Amir what he has... (full context)
Chapter 10
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
...his ear to think of something happy, and Amir immediately thinks of a day flying kites with Hassan. (full context)
Chapter 14
Betrayal Theme Icon
Redemption Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...chapter – Amir watches the beautiful lake, a man playing with his son, and two kites flying overhead. Amir feels that Rahim Khan knows everything about Hassan, and that he is... (full context)
Chapter 16
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Chapter 20
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Violence and Rape Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Politics and Society Theme Icon
...hide snipers, and then the Afghans cut them down for firewood. There are no more kites, and the streets smell like diesel instead of lamb kabob. (full context)
Chapter 25
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Soraya interrupts Amir’s conversation and points out some kites flying in the sky over the park. Amir finds an Afghan kite seller and buys... (full context)
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
Amir offers again, and Sohrab hesitantly takes the kite string. Amir wishes time would stand still. Then a green kite approaches for a fight... (full context)
Redemption Theme Icon
Fathers and Children Theme Icon
Memory and the Past Theme Icon
...an omen of hope for the future. Amir asks if he should run the green kite for Sohrab, and Sohrab nods. Amir says “for you, a thousand times over,” and he... (full context)