The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner Chapter 13 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- The chapter opens with lafz, or the ceremony for "giving word." Baba and Amir are at the Taheri's house to formally ask the General to accept Amir into their family.
- Khanum Taheri leads Baba and Amir through a living room packed with two dozen guests. (As tradition requires, Soraya is not there.) Baba requests that the General accept Amir as a son-in-law. He does, which results in applause and general good cheer.
- Soraya and Amir forgo the Shirini-khori, or "Eating of the Sweets" ceremony. (It's an engagement party followed by an engagement period of a few months.) Baba probably won't live that long.
- Baba spends almost his whole life savings on Amir's wedding. $35,000.
- Soraya and Amir have their nika, or "swearing" ceremony. (Basically, the ceremony part of an American wedding.) Amir thinks of Hassan: "I remember wondering if Hassan too had married. And if so, whose face he had seen in the mirror under the veil? Whose henna-painted hands had he held?" (13.30).
- Amir sleeps with Soraya for the first time. We have to giggle at this sentence: "That night, I discovered the tenderness of a woman" (13.31).
- Soraya and Amir move in with Baba since he's very sick. One day, Amir comes home from the pharmacy with some of Baba's medication and finds Soraya reading to Baba. She's reading him Amir's stories. Amir can't take it and leaves the room crying. Baba finally supports Amir's writing.
- About a month after the wedding, Baba dies in his sleep.
- The funeral is held at a mosque in Hayward. At the gravesite, the mullah and another mourner argue over which ayat of the Koran to recite.
- Since he's married to Soraya now, Amir learns a few things about the Taheris: about once a month, the General has blinding migraine headaches; Khanum Taheri at one point was a famous singer in Kabul but quit when she married the General; Khanum Taheri loves Johnny Carson; Khanum Taheri also loves to talk about her medical ailments. Amir listens.
- At her uncle's wedding, two middle-aged women upset Soraya. They more or less call Soraya un-virtuous a.k.a. a slut. Soraya tells Amir more about her time in Virginia: the night the General came for her, he had a gun with him. Two bullets in the chamber: one for himself and one for Soraya's boyfriend (if Soraya didn't go with him). Thankfully, she did. The General handed her a pair of scissors to cut off all her hair. She obliged him.
- So, Amir and Soraya are married now. Since Baba has died, they move into a one-bedroom apartment. Amir enrolls at San Jose State and declares English as his major; Soraya enrolls a year later and declares Education. General Taheri isn't happy with Soraya's major – he wanted her to be a lawyer or politician.
- Amir finishes his first novel. (It's "a father-son story set in Kabul" – sound familiar?) He sends query letters out to a dozen agencies and gets a request for the manuscript. Amir sends them the manuscript and, wonder of wonders, an agent agrees to represent him. In about the time it takes to squeeze a pomegranate, Amir is a published novelist.
- A lot of other things are going on while Amir becomes a successful writer. The Soviets withdraw from Afghanistan; civil war breaks out in Afghanistan; the cold war ends; the Berlin Wall comes down; Tiananmen Square happens. And Amir and Soraya start trying to have a kid.
- Amir and Soraya, however, can't get pregnant. They go see a doctor; Amir passes his tests, but Soraya doesn't. She has something called "Unexplained Infertility," which apparently isn't uncommon.
- The young lovers tell the General and Khanum Taheri. Soraya relates some advice: "The doctor said we could adopt" (13.139). The General isn't sure about adoption – he starts talking about "blood" and "family" etc. In the end, Amir and Soraya don't want to adopt either.
- The chapter ends with Amir and Soraya buying a house in Bernal Heights.
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