The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
General Taheri and Khanum Taheri
How can you not be amused by Soraya's parents? We find these two, especially Khanum Taheri, to be lovable and cute. Khanum Taheri dotes on both Soraya and Amir and the General strikes us as the bumbling public official type. (Back in Afghanistan, the General had a cushy job with the Defense Ministry.) The General is officious and charming at the same time. Khanum Taheri obsesses about her health and worries, it seems, about everything. But the two are mostly kind and good people. Seriously, Khanum Taheri knits Sohrab a blue turtleneck sweater. Doesn't that say it all?
There is, however, a nasty edge to the General. When Amir brings Sohrab back to the United States, the General asks Amir to explain why "a Hazara boy" is living with them (25.92). Uh-oh. Unlike Soraya, the General still has some lingering problems with racism. Add to that the time he almost killed Soraya's boyfriend and himself (because Soraya was living with her boyfriend), and a darker side of the General emerges. Although Khanum Taheri doesn't seem to share the views of her husband, she also doesn't stand up to him that often. (The one exception is in Chapter 25.) We guess comfort with custom and tradition can have its down side, too. Despite almost killing Soraya's boyfriend and the regressive racial views, the General doesn't seem too bad. He and Khanum Taheri are expertly drawn in-laws: sometimes difficult, but mostly lovable.