Amir, Farid, and Sohrab arrive in Islamabad, and Amir is impressed with its size and cleanliness – to him it looks like the city “Kabul could have become someday.” They pass the Shah Faisal mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world, and Sohrab appears interested in it. They arrive at a nice hotel and Sohrab starts watching TV in silence. Farid says goodbye, and Amir gives him more than two thousand dollars and thanks him for all his help.
Amir’s description of Islamabad is both tragic (because of the current state of Kabul) but also slightly hopeful, as he imagines what Kabul could be like in a time of peace and economic prosperity. Everything Sohrab does shows his past trauma and how he cannot escape it.
Amir takes a pain pill and falls asleep, and when he wakes up Sohrab is gone. The hotel manager is unhelpful, and implies that Amir is a bad father. Amir starts to get desperate, but then he remembers Sohrab’s fascination with the huge mosque. He finds Sohrab in the parking lot, looking at the mosque. Sohrab talks a little bit about his parents, and then Amir talks about Baba. Amir gives Sohrab the snapshot of Hassan.
Sohrab runs away because he is still unable to trust anyone, even after he watched Amir get beaten for him. He is not running away to escape – he is too depressed to have the energy for that – but just wants to be alone and think about what has happened to him compared to the religious teachings he has heard about sex and violence.
Sohrab starts crying softly and asks if he will go to hell for what he did to Assef. Amir says that Assef deserved it and more, and explains that Assef had hurt Hassan very badly when he was a boy. Sohrab says sometimes he is glad is parents aren’t around anymore, because he doesn’t want them to see him so dirty and sinful. Amir says he is not dirty or sinful, and Sohrab lets him hug him for a while. Then Amir asks if Sohrab wants to go back to America with him, but Sohrab doesn’t answer.
Sohrab finally lets Amir touch him, but his sexual abuse has left him feeling physically dirty at all times, and ashamed of what his parents would think of him. Amir realizes what must be done now. He had known in theory what would probably happen, but now he is bonding personally with Sohrab, and genuinely wants to adopt him and bring him home.
For a week afterward, neither Amir nor Sohrab mentions America, but one day they are playing cards and Sohrab asks about San Francisco. Then Amir tells him the truth about Hassan – that they were half-brothers, but neither of them knew. Sohrab guesses it is because Hassan was a Hazara, and he wonders if Baba was ashamed of him, but Amir says Baba was only ashamed of himself.
Amir is tired of trying to hide the truth and forget the past, and he wants to start a new, honest father/son relationship with Sohrab to break the cycle of lies and betrayals. Sohrab is surprisingly shrewd for someone so young, just like his father was when he seemed to read Amir’s mind.
Later that day Sohrab asks about San Francisco again, and Amir describes the fog. Sohrab worries that Amir or his wife will get tired of him if he goes to America, but Amir promises that they won’t. Sohrab then makes Amir promise not to send him back to an orphanage, and then Sohrab agrees to go to America. Amir calls Soraya, who has been sick with worry, and explains everything to her, including the story of his betrayal of Hassan. At the end of the story, Soraya says Amir must bring Sohrab back with him, and she is excited to meet him.
Amir finally confesses his past to Soraya, as he should have done the day of their engagement when she told him the story of her past relationship. Amir is excited by this solution which seems to solve all of his and Sohrab’s problems neatly, but he does not anticipate the complications that life always throws in the way.
The next day Amir goes with Sohrab to the American embassy. They meet with a man named Raymond Andrews, who listens to Amir’s story and then bluntly tells him that it will be almost impossible to adopt Sohrab. Without death certificates for his parents, they cannot prove that Sohrab is an orphan, and usually the cooperation of the country in origin is necessary, and there is no American embassy in Kabul. When Amir insists, Andrews suggests that he could talk to an immigration lawyer named Omar Faisal, but otherwise he should give up the endeavor.
Once again Hosseini seems to be saying that there are no easy solutions to the complicated problems like those in Afghanistan and in Amir’s personal life. In a more ideal world or a less realistic novel, this section would never occur, and Amir could just bring Sohrab back to America to live happily ever after. But there are always tragic coincidences and random complications.
Amir asks if Andrews has any children, and Andrews says no. Amir then leaves angrily with Sohrab, and on the way out he comments about Andrews’ rudeness to his secretary. She explains that Andrews’ daughter recently committed suicide.
Even Andrews cannot be made into a bureaucratic villain, as he has his own tragic backstory. Often it is the system to blame, not individuals, which makes problems much more complex and harder to solve.
They return to the hotel and Sohrab takes a long bath. Amir wonders when he will begin to feel cleaned of the sexual abuse. Amir calls Soraya, and she says she has a family member who can contact his colleagues at the immigration office. The next day Amir and Sohrab meet with Faisal, the lawyer. He says the adoption will be difficult, but not impossible. He says the best option is to put Sohrab in an orphanage, fill out the forms, and then wait for up to two years for the government’s approval.
Amir recognizes Sohrab’s trauma, and why he keeps taking long baths to try and physically rid himself of his abusive past. Faisal is more hopeful of the adoption, but the best possibility will involve Amir going back on his promise to never make Sohrab return to an orphanage – essentially betraying Sohrab like Amir betrayed his father.
That night, Amir tells Sohrab that he thinks he will be able to come to America, but first he might have to go back to an orphanage for a while. When he hears that, Sohrab screams and cries that they will hurt him there, and eventually he cries himself to sleep in Amir’s arms. Then Amir himself takes a nap.
Amir feels he must go through with this betrayal, as it is for the greater good. Sohrab is so traumatized by his past that the thought of being abandoned again terrifies him.
When Amir wakes up, Sohrab is in the bath, and Soraya calls. She says that her family contact can get Sohrab a visa, and that it will be easier to adopt him once he is in America. Amir is overjoyed and goes into the bathroom to tell Sohrab, but he finds him passed out and bleeding in the bathtub, and Amir falls to his knees, screaming.
Amir’s redemption is still incomplete, as Sohrab’s attempted suicide will now hang over his head just like Hassan’s rape. Sohrab tries to free himself of his own past trauma through the ultimate escape. In a tragic coincidence, Amir is just moments too late for a happier ending to his story.