The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner Chapter 11 Summary
How It All Goes Down
Fremont, California. 1980s
- Baba and Amir have moved to America. Certainly, it's an improvement over war-torn Afghanistan, but it's also not smooth sailing.
- Walking in Lake Elizabeth Park, Baba enlightens Amir with his politics: there are only a few "real men" in international politics. America, Britain, and Israel. (Baba seems to love directness in international affairs.) Baba also loves Ronald Reagan – which makes sense. Reagan called the Soviet Union – who invaded Afghanistan – "the Evil Empire," Reagan also had that American cowboy bravado Amir and Baba worshipped from afar for years in Afghanistan.
- However, Baba isn't adjusting well to America. He turns his neighborhood convenience store upside down because they won't take his check without ID. (In Baba's defense, he's shopped there for two years.) Amir gets him out of the store, but there's a lot of yelling about honor and such.
- Amir reveals that Baba works at a gas station. He works a twelve-hour shift six days a week. This image sums it up: "Baba's face drawn and pale under the bright fluorescent lights" (11.28).
- For a while, Baba and Amir were on welfare. The day Baba gets a job, he goes to the welfare office and returns his food stamps.
- Amir graduates from high school. Baba is actually really proud of Amir; unlike the attention Amir got for winning the kite-fighting tournament, this affection seems long-lasting.
- They go out and celebrate. Baba drinks lots of beer, says some disparaging things about Russians, and buys everyone drinks.
- He has Amir drive to end of their block where a gift waits for Amir. It's a Ford Gran Torino. There's some crying, widespread happiness, and a hand-squeeze. Baba says: "I wish Hassan had been with us today" (11.44). Amir feels profoundly guilty.
- Amir is going to enroll in junior college the next fall. He and Baba discuss majors the morning after graduation. Amir says he's going to major in Creative Writing. Baba isn't too happy.
- Amir drives his Ford Gran Torino around a lot. He feels "free" or something. America, for the most part, has allowed Amir to escape his past.
- Baba sells his car. He buys a '71 Volkswagen bus. They start buying up stuff at yard sales and going to the San Jose flea market.
- At the flea market, Baba introduces Amir to General Taheri who worked for the Ministry of Defense in Kabul. There's an exchange between His Lordship Taheri and Amir about writing. The General wonders if Amir will write about Afghanistan or economics or some other important topic. Nope. Amir is going to write fiction.
- Some lovely lady brings the General a cup of coffee. It's his daughter, Soraya. Amir is smitten.
- On the way home from the flea market, Amir realizes he knows the name "Taheri" from some rumors he heard. Baba isn't one to gossip, but Amir presses him and he says: "All I've heard is that there was a man once and things...didn't go well" (11.101). Apparently, because of this incident, no one has approached Soraya as a suitor since then.
- Did we say Amir is smitten?
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