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The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner


by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner Chapter 21 Summary

  • Amir and Farid drive toward the Wazir Akbar Khan district, where Baba's house is. They see a dead body hanging near a restaurant Amir and Baba used to frequent. Also, someone selling his prosthetic leg.
  • Once they get into the Wazir Akbar, though, it's not so bad. Mostly because the people behind the Taliban – the "real brains of the government" as Farid says – live here (21.12).
  • Amir interrupts the narrative with a memory: he's back in his childhood days with Hassan and they find a turtle behind the sweetbriar bushes. They paint its shell red and march around with their "fire-breathing monstrosity," calling themselves great explorers (21.15).
  • Amir keeps poking around his old house. There's a jeep in the driveway where Baba used to park his black Mustang. The Wall of Ailing Corn is still there. Farid starts honking the horn because Amir is dilly-dallying on memory lane.
  • There's a little exchange between Amir and Farid about forgetting the past. Farid says it makes it easier "to go on" if you just forget the past; the new Amir, who arrived somewhere around Chapter 14, wants to remember the past.
  • Amir asks for ten more minutes. He walks up to the hill with the pomegranate tree. (We at Shmoop are getting choked up. Is it possible to feel nostalgic about a fictional place?) The tree has wilted, but Amir finds his and Hassan's inscription: "Amir and Hassan. The Sultans of Kabul" (21.38). Farid honks again.
  • Amir and Farid get a hotel room in Pashtunistan Square. It's a real dive, but still costs Amir $75. No hot water, a cracked toilet, a bloodstain, and a worn mattress. Amir and Farid eat some kabobs and tell Mullah Nasruddin jokes. Farid falls asleep.
  • The next day, they go to Ghazi Stadium. A street urchin tries to sell Amir some "sexy pictures" (21.67). The stadium field is now just a dirt patch instead of lush grass. It's a sorry soccer match: the players have to wear sweatpants because of the Taliban's decency laws. Talib officials roam the aisles with whips looking for any fans who cheer too loudly. But the real show happens at half-time.
  • Three red pickups drive onto the field. Here's our cast of characters: the Talib cleric the orphanage director described, two blindfolded adulterers, and some Talib guards. The cleric gives a scary sermon about sin and punishing the sinner in "a manner befitting his sin" (21.79). The two adulterers have been placed in two holes in the ground. The cleric starts to stone them. Every so often, a Talib man with a stethoscope checks the heartbeat of the adulterers. Once the adulterers have been killed, the Talib guards load them up in a truck and fill the holes. The soccer game resumes.
  • Amir arranges a meeting with the cleric for later that afternoon.

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