The Kite Runner
How we cite our quotes:
Sometimes, up in those trees, I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor's one-eyed German shepherd. Hassan never wanted to, but if I asked, really asked, he wouldn't deny me. Hassan never denied me anything. And he was deadly with his slingshot. Hassan's father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad, or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get. He would wag his finger and wave us down from the tree. He would take the mirror and tell us what his mother had told him, that the devil shone mirrors too, shone them to distract Muslims during prayer. "And he laughs while he does it," he always added, scowling at his son.
"Yes, Father," Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor's dog, was always my idea. (2.2-3)
This passage shows up early in the novel and really tells us quite a bit about Amir and Hassan's friendship. Hassan protects and defends Amir and, foreshadowing later events in the novel, refuses to tell on Amir. (Hassan will later take the blame for the wad of cash and the watch.) We should also note that Amir seems like the gang leader in this passage, getting the two boys into trouble. Does Amir control the relationship? Is this why Hassan often takes the blame for things? Does Amir ever take responsibility for anything in the novel?
Then he [Ali] would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that not even time could break.
Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.
Mine was Baba.
His was Amir. My name. (2.34-37)
There's a primal closeness between Amir and Hassan. Later, we'll find out the two boys have the same father, but notice how Hosseini is laying the groundwork for that revelation. The two boys might as well be brothers: they learn to walk together, they learn to speak together, and they feed from the same breast. Which brings up an interesting question: What does Rahim Khan's revelation – that Amir and Hassan are half-brothers – really change? Aren't the two already brothers in everything? Or does "blood" fundamentally change Amir's relationship with Hassan?
Ali and Baba grew up together as childhood playmates – at least until polio crippled Ali's leg – just like Hassan and I grew up a generation later. Baba was always telling us about the mischief he and Ali used to cause, and Ali would shake his head and say, "But, Agha sahib, tell them who was the architect of the mischief and who the poor laborer?" Baba would laugh and throw his arm around Ali.
But in none of his stories did Baba ever refer to Ali as his friend. (4.2-3)
Baba and Ali's friendship parallels Amir and Hassan's on a number of levels. First, as this passage indicates, there's a similar pattern of leadership (and power): both Baba and Amir have dominant roles in each friendship. And, lest you forget, Baba betrays Ali much like Amir betrays Hassan. As they say, two peas in a pod. Or, maybe it would be four peas in a pod. We're not sure. Anyways, after Amir learns that Baba lied to him for years, he says: "Baba and I were more alike than I'd ever known. We had both betrayed the people who would have given their lives for us" (18.7). Four peas in a pod.