The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner Chapter 22 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- Farid pulls up to the cleric's house in Wazir Akbar Khan, Amir's old neighborhood. Farid says he's going to wait in the car. We guess you just have to do some things on your own.
- Armed guards frisk Amir at the door. They show Amir into a sitting room where he waits nervously. (He wonders if he's not being true to his cowardice. Basically, he's doing some mental gymnastics to justify bailing on Sohrab.)
- The cleric walks in. He has on a gold wristwatch, John Lennon sunglasses, and a white robe. He also smokes. Amir spots track marks (from drug use) on his arms. His robe is still stained from the stoning earlier that day. This guy is about as despicable as you can get.
- The cleric talks about the "real show" of August 1998 when the Taliban massacred Hazaras in Mazar-i-Sharif. Then the cleric shares how "liberating" it was to kill all the Hazaras. If you hadn't already guessed it, this guy is a psychopath.
- Amir tells him he's here for the boy. After threatening to have Amir shot for leaving his watan (homeland) in a time of war, the cleric has the boy brought in.
- It's Sohrab all right. But he's got bells on his ankles. The guard is carrying a boom box. This is getting weird.
- One of the guards turns on the boom box and Sohrab starts to dance. The guards and the cleric cheer and jeer, etc. Once the song ends, the cleric calls Sohrab over and strokes his back. This guy is a pedophile, too.
- Suddenly the Talib cleric asks Amir what happened to "old Babalu" (the mean neighborhood nickname for Ali). He says something about never forgetting a face. It's Assef.
- Amir offers to pay Assef for Sohrab. Too bad. Assef is already rich. But he does tell Amir how he joined the Taliban: some Parchami soldiers (part of the socialist part who supported Soviet rule in Afghanistan) arrested Assef and his father. At the jail, a commandant would beat one of the prisoners every night. On the night he picked Assef, Assef has been trying to pass kidney stones for three days. So when the commandant kicked Assef in the ribs, he said something like "God is great." The commandant kicked him harder and harder but Assef just laughed. The commandant threw Assef back in his cell. Assef gives Amir the moral of the story: God is on Assef's side and he's alive for a reason.
- Amir asks if Assef's purpose in life is to rape children. There's a brief exchange between Assef and Amir about ethnic cleansing. This guy Assef is a real jerk. It's hard to describe how evil he is.
- Unexpectedly, Assef tells Amir he can have Sohrab. "What's the catch?" you may ask. Well, Amir has to fight Assef. (Assef still holds a grudge against Amir from the time Hassan pulled a slingshot on him. Assef said he'd get both Hassan and Amir – so now he wants to fight Amir.)
- The guards leave the room at Assef's request. Assef takes out his famous brass knuckles.
- Hosseini shifts – momentarily – to a scene in a hospital. Don't get scared: now we know Amir will survive.
- We're back at Assef's house. Assef actually turns on the music before beginning the beat the daylights out of Amir. There's a lot of bleeding, shattering, breaking, ripping, and slamming. All done to Amir. However, Amir starts laughing at some point. He actually feels at peace for the first time since 1975 – the winter he abandoned Hassan in the alleyway.
- Suddenly, Sohrab tells everyone to stop. Our fighters look up. Sohrab has placed a brass ball from the table in his slingshot. (It sounds hefty and substantial.) After some useless commands to Sohrab, Assef gets his due. Sohrab lets fly and the brass ball smashes into Assef's left eye. This is the same eye Hassan threatened to blacken all those years ago. Like father, like son – or something.
- Sohrab and Amir peace out. They hop in Farid's car and they're off.
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