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The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner

by Khaled Hosseini

Betrayal Theme

The plot of The Kite Runner revolves around the protagonist's betrayal of his best friend. In a way, this betrayal drives the rest of the book and perhaps everything that precedes it. In his pre-betrayal and post-betrayal chapters, Hosseini asks some important questions. For example, do you betray someone without warning, or do small betrayals lead up to a larger one? Can you redeem yourself after you've betrayed a friend? If your father betrayed his friend are you doomed to repeat the same mistake? Can you redeem your sins and your father's at the same time? Or does redemption work like a coupon – only one per customer?

Questions About Betrayal

  1. We think the main betrayal of the book happens in Chapter 7 when Amir doesn't protect Hassan from Assef. However, the novel has plenty of other betrayals in it. Tally them up. Does Baba betray anyone? Does Amir betray multiple people? Do smaller betrayals lead up to this larger one? Do the other betrayals help us interpret Amir's abandonment of Hassan in the alleyway?
  2. Baba never tells Amir he fathered Hassan. Amir never tells Baba he left Hassan in the alleyway, or that he put the watch and money under Hassan's mattress. What role does silence play in the novel? Can betrayal (like silence) be continuous?
  3. Early on in the novel, Baba drops the following knowledge: "Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that?" (3.29). Through the character of Baba, Hosseini invites us to look at any wrongdoing in terms of theft. Explain each betrayal in the novel in terms of theft. What has been stolen? Is Baba's theory useful or has he been drinking too much scotch?
  4. Do any betrayals happen on a larger, political scale? Do they map onto the betrayal(s) of the individual characters?

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