The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner Chapter 3 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- This chapter is more or less concerned with Amir's relationship with his father, Baba. Amir begins by telling some stories about Baba and slowly shifts into Baba's disappointment in Amir. Amir doesn't tell these stories in strict chronological order.
- Amir starts with this crazy story about how Baba wrestled a black bear. He swears it's not laaf, "that Afghan tendency to exaggerate" (3.1). Sometimes Amir dreams about Baba and the black bear; in his dreams, Amir can't tell the bear and Baba apart.
- Amir tells us Rahim Khan gave Baba his nickname, "Toophan agha, or 'Mr. Hurricane'" (3.2).
- In the 1960s, Baba builds an orphanage. Even though Baba has no architectural experience, he finishes the orphanage. Baba funds the entire project.
- Baba and Amir celebrate the completion of the orphanage by going to Ghargha Lake. Baba asks Amir to bring along Hassan, but Amir lies and tells Baba that Hassan "has the runs" (3.5). Baba pretty much ignores Amir while they eat beside the lake.
- During the opening ceremony for the orphanage, Baba's hat flies off in the wind. He's giving a speech; Amir picks up the hat and hands it to Baba. Baba recovers marvelously and there's lots of applause. Amir is very proud – of his father and himself.
- Amir slips in a few words on his mother: "one of Kabul's most respected, beautiful, and virtuous ladies. [...] [N]ot only did she teach classic Farsi literature at the university, she was a descendent of the royal family" (3.11).
- In the fifth grade, Amir returns home from school and tells Baba about Mullah Fatiullah Khan, his teacher. Amir repeats what the Mullah said about drinking: "those who drank would answer for their sin on the day of Qiuamat, Judgment Day" (3.13).
- As luck would have it, Baba is pouring himself a whiskey from the bar. He proceeds to ridicule the Mullah. And he tells Amir all sins proceed from a single sin, which is theft. E.g. "When you kill a man you steal his life" or "When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to truth" (3.32). Baba gets pretty worked up; he even says if a man were to steal a loaf of bread he would "spit on such a man" and "if I ever cross paths with him, God help him" (3.34).
- Somehow, Amir has woken up the bear-fury of Baba. Amir feels like Baba hates him a little – didn't he did steal his mother's life by being born?
- Cut to school. Amir always wins a classroom game called Sherjangi ("Battle of the Poems"). It works like this: One person recites a line of poetry, then the next person recites a line that begins with the letter that ended the first line. Amir is dominant in this game and even beats the rest of his class. And he reads all his mother's books.
- Baba isn't OK with all this literature and reading stuff. Baba tries to get Amir interested in soccer instead, but Amir is hopeless: "I shambled about the field on scraggly legs [...]" (3.40).
- At some point, Baba takes Amir to a Buzkashi tournament. In this sport, one man rides around on horses with a goat carcass while a bunch of other men, also on horses, do everything they can to stop him from dropping the dead goat in a scoring circle. (This is like kill-the-man-with-the-ball only on horses and with a goat.) On this particular day, the main rider gets trampled and Amir cries on the way home. Baba is not pleased.
- That very night, Amir secretly listens in as Rahim Khan and Baba talk about him in the study. Baba thinks Amir is weak and that "a boy who can't stand up for himself becomes a man who can't stand up for anything" (3.66). Rahim Khan tries to defend Amir, but Baba still says some pretty terrible things about his son.