From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
This chapter is a slideshow of Amir's early childhood. Fasten the seatbelts on your recliners!
Amir and Hassan get into harmless mischief together as kids. Hassan often takes the blame if the two troublemakers get caught.
Amir describes his childhood home, built by his father. It has rosebushes, marble floors, mosaic tiles, and gold-stitched tapestries. Oh, and a crystal chandelier.
Baba, Amir's father, has a smoking room in the house but he doesn't let Amir hang out there. Go away, Amir.
Some of Baba's cabinets have a few pictures: Amir's grandfather and King Nadir Shah and one of Amir's father and mother on their wedding night. No word yet on Amir's mother. Finally, there's one of little Amir in his father's arms; Rahim Khan stands off to the side.
Amir takes us inside the little shack where Ali and Hassan, their servants, live. It's nowhere near as opulent as Baba's house.
Amir tells us his mother died giving birth to him and Hassan's mother – her name was Sanaubar – left soon after Hassan was born.
One day, as Amir and Hassan are walking past the military barracks, some soldiers heckle Hassan. Apparently, his mum was quite beautiful and a little free with her favors. But the soldiers are really crude, and Amir tries to comfort Hassan.
More description of Hassan's mother: Sanaubar, it seems, was really gorgeous and "notoriously unscrupulous."
Now, Amir tells us about Hassan's father: the lower muscles on Ali's face were paralyzed by polio. Ali also walks with a limp. The neighborhood kids chase Ali around and call him Babalu or "Boogeyman." Grow up, kids.
We hear more about an emerging tension: ethnicity. Ali, Sanaubar, and Hassan are Hazaras, while Amir and Baba are Pashtuns. Looking through his mother's old history books, Amir discovers the inequality between the two ethnicities. Pashtuns are the privileged majority.
We learn Sanaubar taunted Ali along with the neighborhood kids. But Ali doesn't feel the need to fight back against his assailants. He loves Hassan so much it doesn't bother him.
Little story from the midwife as told to the neighbor's servant: when Hassan was born (with a cleft lip), Sanaubar said to Ali: "Now you have your own idiot child to do all your smiling for you!" (2.30).
Amir tells us he and Hassan had the same wet nurse (because Sanaubar left Ali and Amir's mother passed away in childbirth). Ali tells the boys there is "a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break" (2.34). You'll want to remember that.