For a week after the tournament, Amir hardly sees Hassan. He asks Ali where he is, and Ali says that Hassan just wants to 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 to the city of Jalalabad and stay with Baba’s cousin – after Amir’s victory, he and Baba act much closer. Baba wants to take Hassan, but Amir says that he is too sick to go.
At first it seems that Amir got what he wanted in sacrificing Hassan, as Baba does act like more of a loving and approving father for a while. Amir does not know how to deal with his guilt, however, so he tries to avoid Hassan, and is rude in his unhappiness.
By the time Baba and Amir actually leave for Jalalabad, Baba has invited many family members 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 sick, throwing up on his cousin’s dress. When they reach Jalalabad they have a large, traditional Afghan dinner. Baba boasts about Amir but again Amir feels sick. He wonders why he is not happy now that he has gotten what he wanted – Baba’s approval.
The irony in Amir’s plight continues as Amir gets just what he had wanted – Baba’s praise and approval – but is now unable to enjoy it because of his guilt for betraying Hassan. Amir’s car sickness begins here, a malady that Baba will later see as a sign of weakness, and which seems to be associated with Amir’s guilt.
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That night all the men sleep in the same room, but Amir lies awake tossing and turning. He says out loud that he watched Hassan get raped, but no one hears him. He thinks about Hassan’s dream about the monster in the lake, and Amir feels that he is the monster. He says that this was the night he became an insomniac.
Amir tries to free himself of his guilt by confessing aloud, but no one hears. He starts to realize the terrible thing he has done, but he is still too afraid to tell anyone – unless they are sleeping.
When Amir and Baba return to Kabul, Hassan asks Amir to go up to their favorite hill. They sit under the pomegranate tree and Amir is sickened by the words he had once carved in the tree. Hassan asks Amir to read to him, but Amir says he has changed his mind and wants to go home, and the two boys walk back down in silence.
Everything has been poisoned by Amir’s betrayal, and the tree carving – the sign of his happy childhood with Hassan – makes him sick now. Amir still tries to forget his guilt by avoiding Hassan instead of trying to make things right.
The rest of the winter passes with Amir avoiding Hassan and pretending his new, close relationship with Baba will 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 done wrong, and why they don’t play anymore, and Amir tells Hassan to stop harassing him. After that, they avoid each other, but Amir still feels suffocated by Hassan’s presence and the constant reminders of Hassan’s loyalty and Amir’s own betrayal.
Amir cannot enjoy his new, closer relationship with Baba because of his guilt. Here the kite becomes a symbol of the fragile thing Amir sacrificed so much for, and how all the pain he has caused undercuts the happiness he might have gained. Hassan is recovering from his trauma faster than Amir is recovering from his guilt. Amir is unable to avoid Hassan all the time, as Hassan is still part of the house.
One day while they are gardening, Amir asks Baba if he has ever thought about getting new servants. Baba is furious at the question and says that he will never replace Ali, and that Hassan is not going anywhere. After that things grow cool again between Baba and Amir. Amir starts school, and he uses his homework as an excuse to spend long hours in his room alone.
It is Amir’s guilt that causes him to ask this question, which in turn makes Baba ashamed of Amir. In this way Amir loses the happiness he had gained and Baba’s approval through his betrayal. Baba clearly does not think of Ali and Hassan as “servants” as much as Amir does.
One afternoon after school Amir asks Hassan to walk up the hill with him so Amir can read a story he has written. Hassan is excited to go, and they sit under their pomegranate tree. Amir suddenly picks up a pomegranate and asks Hassan what he would do if he threw it at him. Hassan says nothing, and Amir starts pelting him with pomegranates. He yells at Hassan to hit him back, but Hassan won’t. Finally Hassan crushes a pomegranate against his own forehead and asks if Amir is satisfied. Then Hassan leaves, covered in red juice, and Amir starts to cry.
Amir wants Hassan to punish him, as this might make Amir feel better and return things to the way they were. But Hassan proves that his loyalty and love for Amir are unwavering, as he does not retaliate. This makes Amir feel even worse, as it proves that Amir himself is weak and cowardly as compared with Hassan – that is, Hassan is a better person than Amir, which has always been a source of jealousy for Amir.
That summer (1976) Amir turns thirteen, and Baba decides to throw him a huge party, though their relationship is growing distant again. Baba invites more than 400 people, most of whom Amir does not know. Many of the workers who set up the party do their jobs for free, as Baba has helped them out in the past.
Amir is still receiving the benefits of Baba’s favor, though not actually enjoying them. The many people thanking Baba for his charity only highlight Amir’s own shame for his selfishness and insecurity.
When the party begins Baba makes Amir greet each guest personally. Assef arrives and jokes politely with Baba, and he gives Amir a gift he says he picked out himself. Amir is visibly distressed by Assef’s presence and subtle taunting, and Baba is embarrassed and has to apologize for his behavior. Amir escapes the crowd for a moment and hides behind a wall to open Assef’s present – a biography of Hitler. He throws it away and sinks to the ground.
Again Amir’s guilt makes him do something that embarrasses Baba, so he falls farther out of Baba’s favor. Assef is remorseless for his actions, still believing that Hassan is “only a Hazara,” and still idolizing Hitler.
As Amir sits alone in the dark, Rahim Khan approaches and starts to talk to him, saying that he was almost married once, to a Hazara girl. They would meet in secret and plan their future life together. When Rahim Khan told his family, his mother fainted and his father sent the girl and her family away. Rahim Khan says it was for the best in the end, as his family would have made his wife’s life miserable.
Rahim Khan’s story shows more of the injustices against Hazaras – instead of Rahim Khan’s father moving, he sent away the whole Hazara family to spare a scandal. Rahim Khan also implies that sometimes the prejudices of the world are too strong, and not even love can overcome them.
Rahim Khan then says that he is always there if Amir needs to tell him something. Amir almost confesses everything, but again he says nothing. Rahim Khan gives Amir a leather-bound notebook to write stories in.
Rahim Khan seems to know about Amir’s plight, but he offers compassion instead of judgment. His gift of the notebook could be interpreted as a path to redemption through writing.
Suddenly fireworks start up and interrupt their conversation. Amir and Rahim Khan hurry back to the house. In the glow of the fireworks Amir sees Hassan serving drinks to Wali and a grinning Assef.
This devastating image captures the injustice of the situation – Hassan has no choice but to serve his rich, powerful, Pashtun rapist.