The 10 Most Used Kite Runner Themes | With Explanation

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Here are the most used Kite Runner themes:


kite runner themes


1. Redemption

The novel’s heart is Amir’s quest to redeem himself. Amir strives early on to redeem himself in Baba’s eyes, primarily because his mother died while giving birth to him, and he feels responsible. Amir believes that to repay Baba; he must win the kite tournament and bring the losing kite to him, both of which are inciting incidents that set the rest of the novel in motion.

However, the greater part of Amir’s quest for redemption stems from his guilt over Hassan. The story’s climactic events, including Amir’s journey to Kabul to find Sohrab and his confrontation with Assef, are motivated by guilt. The moral standard Amir must meet to be redeemed is established early in the book when Baba says that a boy who does not stand up for himself grows into a man who cannot stand up to anything. As a child, Amir is unable to advocate for himself. As an adult, he redeems himself by demonstrating his willingness to stand up for what is right.

2. Betrayal

A common theme in The Kite Runner is the betrayal of a devoted friend by a wealthier, more corrupt “master,” and Amir and Baba’s emotions of remorse for their betrayals drive much of the novel’s action. The fundamental betrayal occurs when Amir stands by and does nothing while Hassan, who has always stood up for Amir, is raped by Assef. Amir then adds insult to injury by evicting Ali and Hassan from home. Later in the narrative, Amir discovers that Baba deceived his own best friend and servant – Ali, Hassan’s father – by having a child (Hassan) with Ali’s wife, Sanaubar.

This information comes as another betrayal for Amir, who has always idolized Baba and is stunned to learn of his father’s weaknesses.

These low moments in the two men’s lives cause tension and guilt throughout the novel. However, Amir and Baba’s betrayals also lead to redemption quests that result in some good in the end – as Baba follows a principled, philanthropic life, and Amir rescues Sohrab from Assef.

3. Love

Every connection in The Kite Runner is stressed at some point, presenting numerous illustrations of the complexities of different sorts of love. Hassan’s affection for Amir is unselfish, but Amir’s affection for Hassan is mostly selfish. The two relationships thus reveal the essence of brotherly love, a love that contains jealousy and insecurity, albeit unconsciously to the protagonists. Ali, Baba, the General, Hassan, Rahim Khan, and even Amir show varied degrees of paternal love, each with expectations for his child and offering physical and emotional support.

Amir and Soraya represent romantic love, and their relationship is crucial to Amir’s character development. Hassan’s character is the closest to exhibiting unselfish love for all people, and the other characters can learn from him. The majority of the characters live lives that contain a personal search for love. Moreover, most of them understand that you must first forgive yourself before you love another person.

4. Kites

As the title “The Kite Runner” suggests, Kites are crucial to the narrative. On a storyline level, the 1975 Grand Kite Tournament initiates a circle of betrayal and redemption around which the novel revolves. Amir cannot separate kite battling and running from his betrayal and cowardice when Hassan is raped while running his kite.

So, despite his injuries and struggles on Sohrab’s behalf, the act of kite running finally makes him feel redeemed. Kites have several layers of symbolism throughout the story and their storyline significance. One of these levels is Amir and Hassan’s class gap, which heavily influences and limits their relationship. One youngster controls the kite while the other assists by feeding the string in kite fighting. Hassan caters to Amir in kite contests in the same way as he cooks Amir’s breakfast, folds his clothing, and cleans his room.

Even though Hassan enjoys the thrill of kite battling, he does not truly control the kite. Hassan may assist with the kite’s “lift-and-dive,” but Amir is the one who declares victory. Hassan may catch and retain a prized competitor kite, but he must always return it to Amir, to whom it now belongs. His joy is vicariously experienced, as is his wealth and luxury while living in Baba’s household. To be free of selfishness and cowardice, Amir must transform himself from a kite fighter—someone who craves glory—to a kite runner—someone who sincerely does things for others.

Kite fighting is a violent sport by nature. The kites battle, and so too do the children flying them. The ground glass-covered thread carves deep gashes into the fliers’ palms as they try to cut each other down, and as kites fall from the sky, the kite runners recover them with the same ferocity as a hunting hound does a slaughtered bird. Kite fighting, in its intensity, mirrors the battles that rage in Afghanistan for virtually the whole novel.

When Hosseini depicts hundreds of kites trying randomly, and with great determination to chop one other down, he also depicts Afghanistan’s warring factions overthrowing one another. At the same time that kite fighting is violent, the act of flying a kite is benign and symbolic of freedom. Amir and Hassan have no control over their differences; they are both victims of deception in reality. Their relationship would have been different if they had realized they were brothers.

Despite their differences and the symbolic significance of their specific kite-fighting duties, flying kites brings the lads together. Amir has felt that he and Hassan are rivals for Baba’s affection for many years. Amir is enraged by Hassan’s presence after the rape since it reminds him of his cowardice. 

Despite this, the lads are on the same team when they fly kites together. Because the activity is somewhat mutual, they are more like brothers than any other moment. It allows them to temporarily forget about their differences and experience a sense of pleasure and freedom. The Kite Runner’s cover depicts a kite flying high above Kabul. This image represents Amir and Hassan’s shared sense of freedom, which transports them away from life’s realities until the kite is grounded again.

5. Forgiveness

The Kite Runner is filled with ideas about forgiveness. Hassan’s actions show that he forgives Amir’s treachery, even though Amir must spend nearly the entire novel learning about the nature of forgiveness. Baba’s treatment of Hassan is his attempt to earn public forgiveness for something he has not even admitted to doing.

On the other hand, Rahim Khan speaks most movingly about the essence of forgiveness. He also asks Amir for forgiveness for keeping Baba’s secret in his letter, but he also expressly states, “God will forgive.” Rahim Khan believes that God will forgive all sins, and he encourages Amir to do the same. Rahim Khan recognizes that God readily forgives those who beg for forgiveness, but it is people who find it difficult to forgive. Thus, the only way to achieve complete forgiveness is to forgive oneself, and this can only happen if one has sincerely attempted to atone for one’s faults.

6. The Immigrant Experience

The Kite Runner convincingly depicts that the difficulties of the immigrant experience begin with the attempt to leave one’s homeland. Baba and Amir are among numerous Afghans attempting to flee under cover of darkness, unsure of the next step and taking calculated risks. Some immigrants perish before reaching their new homes.

In addition to the difficulties of life in a new country, immigrants must cope with the judgments of those who remain behind. When Amir returns to Afghanistan, he understands this. Finally, adjusting to a new nation includes more than just learning a new language; it is also about preserving traditions and some semblance of one’s own culture. Baba loses his status while maintaining his old-world views, highlighting the delicate balance between old and new. Soraya and her mother also show the challenging position women have in balancing the expectations of old-world culture with the new world in which they live.

7. Family Relationships

The novel is centred on father-son connections. The theme is especially prominent in Amir and Baba’s relationship. Amir’s yearning generates the novel’s fundamental tension for Baba’s acceptance and affirmation. Young Amir is willing to sacrifice Hassan to gain Baba’s favor and love. The novel’s early section leads readers to assume that Baba is distant because he does not appreciate Amir, whose academic disposition and lack of bravery to stand up for himself are grounds for Baba’s dislike of him.

However, readers will subsequently discover that Baba’s actions are motivated by his sorrow about not being able to recognize Hassan as his legitimate son. This knowledge alters Amir’s perception of Baba. While he is initially outraged, he soon realizes that they are far more alike than he had believed. Even though Hassan is not his biological son, Ali’s bond with Hassan contrasts with Baba and Amir’s relationship. Ali displays proper care and unconditional love to Hassan since he is not burdened by guilt. By the end of the tale, Amir has become a father himself, and he emulates Ali’s loving treatment of Sohrab.

8. Religious and class Tensions

One of the novel’s key themes is the conflict between different ethnic and religious groups in Afghanistan. Amir and Baba are members of the privileged Pashtun ethnic group, which Sunni Muslims dominate. On the other hand, Ali and Hassan are members of the oppressed Hazara ethnic group, which is comprised of Afghanistan’s Shi’a Muslim minority. Even before the Taliban took power, it was clear that Hazaras were a marginalized group that faced severe discrimination. 

These tensions are demonstrated by Assef’s character, who brutalizes Hassan without fear of repercussions for his heinous conduct. When the Taliban captured control, people like Assef were unleashed on the Hazara people, resulting in mass deaths and unrelenting bloodshed. There are also more divides to discuss. Baba is forced to labor menial jobs to support his family after fleeing to America. Despite his wealth and high social rank in Afghanistan, Baba is simply another immigrant in California. General Taheri and other once-prominent Afghan men who frequent the flea market exemplify the flipping of the script.

9. Male Friendship

The Kite Runner is almost entirely about male relationships. While the father-son bond is crucial in the narrative, male friendship is also important. The most prominent example is Amir’s relationship with Hassan. Though the two are consistent companions, Amir’s greater social rank creates a power disparity between them, further compounded when Amir discovers that Hassan is his half-brother. Amir sees that the favor Baba extended to Hassan was that of a father to a son, and he considers how his jealousy tainted his connection with Hassan. 

Despite this problematic dynamic, Hassan is a fantastic friend, as seen by his desire to stand by Amir even when doing so is difficult or risky. This loyalty is most clearly demonstrated by Hassan’s kite-running and unwillingness to surrender Assef the kite he runs for Amir, which results in Assef raping Hassan as retribution. Rahim Khan is another significant figure in the text for understanding male bonding.

He is friends with both Baba and Amir, and in those interactions, he plays the role of standing up to the dubious decisions both men make. Rahim Khan can play this part because he is in the same social class as Baba and Amir. Rahim Khan knows his friends’ deepest secrets—that Baba slept with Ali’s wife and Amir permitted Hassan’s rape—but he does not lord these secrets over them, instead preferring to be a voice of reason and bring the other characters back to righteousness. Rahim Khan’s morals shine through in his phone call to adult Amir, in which he says, “There is a way to be nice again.” Rahim, as a friend, offers Amir “a chance to halt the cycle” of betrayals and secrets.

10. Racism

Racism is depicted both openly, gradually, and systemically throughout The Kite Runner. Assef, the novel’s most racist character, excuses his rape of Hassan by remarking, “It is only a Hazara.” Later, Assef compares Hazaras to garbage polluting Afghanistan’s “beautiful mansion,” and he decides to “clean out the waste” by murdering those he considers second-class people.

Amir’s initial inability to protect Hassan against Assef is undoubtedly driven by timidity and a desire to please Baba. However, Amir can also rationalize his inaction due to the social gap he feels due to Hassan’s ethnic heritage. When Amir discovers that he and Hassan are half-brothers, his prejudice gets more difficult. When Amir asks General Taheri not to refer to Sohrab as “Hazara lad” again, he openly rejects his underlying racism.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the kite runner essay about?


The Kite Runner is a story about an Afghan boy, Amir, a Pashtun, who goes from living in a war-torn Afghanistan to a successful writer living in America.


It is one of a kind, coming of age classic which describes and reveals the thoughts and actions of Amir, a Pashtun from Kabul


What is the main message of the kite runner?

The key message of The Kite Rinner is that redemption from past mistakes is always possible.


His past thoughts and guilt from his earliest actions haunted the main character Amir, a Pashtun from Kabul.

He feels he handles the death of his mother, who passed away while giving birth to him.


The novel also focuses on male friendships. A friendship that Amir, the main character had with his father.

What is the main message or insight into life found within the kite runner?

The major theme of The Kite Runner is that guilt from past activities can consume one’s life unless one takes a step and redeems themselves.


The book offers a great deal of insight into little things in life one may not be aware of.

While reading the story, you get an insight into the daily life of the Afghani people and their culture.


What is a thesis statement for the kite runner?

The influence of Afghan culture and historical events

The setting for this book is in three places. The first is Amir’s childhood in Afghanistan.Then, at the beginning of the violent conflicts, Baba and Amir leave Afghanistan for America. Baba goes from being a wealthy man to a poor immigrant.


The third part of the book is about Amir’s return to Afghanistan and his discovery that it has changed. While the book is fiction, Hosseini’s own life and experiences inspire some of the work. 


There are many examples of Afghan culture and outlines of actual events that took place in Afghanistan over the past several decades. It is significant that this book shows a much different country from the one that is often presented in the American media. Address the differences and similarities of Afghanistan events and culture in the book and in media coverage.


What does the kite symbolize in the kite runner?

The kite serves as a symbol of Amir’s happiness. It also signifies Amir’s guilt.

Amir, as a child, enjoyed flying kites mostly because it was the only way to connect with Baba.


The kite takes a different significance, which is guilt after Amir allows Hassan to be raped because he wants to bring the blue kite back to Baba.


Amir finally flies a kite with Sohrab at the end of the novel after redeeming himself for the guilt he had

How is the kite runner a coming of age story?

The Kite Runner follows a young Amir, a Pashtun from Kabul, who begins his story from birth, but ‘comes of age because of the events in his life.

The novel ends with Amir being a fully mature and enlightened adult.

What does the kite runner teach us about friendship?

Friendship is one of the major themes in The Kite Runner.

The theme is explored in the relationship between Baba and Amir, who are Pashtun and Ali and Hassan, who are Hazara.


When questioned by Assef about his friendship with a Hazara, Amir admits: “But he’s not my friend!” I almost blurted. “He’s my servant!” Had I really thought that? Of course, I hadn’t.  I hadn’t. I treated Hassan well, just like a friend, better even, more like a brother.’


What did the kite runner teach you about forgiveness?

Amir’s father forgives a sin that he considers the root of all sins.

At the beginning of the story, Assef pretends to forgive Hassan but rapes and beats them when he finally realizes that they do not meet his conditions.

Khan believes ‌people are the ones who have a hard time forgiving.

Khan believes ‌God forgives those that ask for forgiveness.

This theme of forgiveness and redemption comes hand in hand and to be fully forgiven you need to redeem yourself.

What is the significance of the ending of the kite runner?

The end of the novel offers a glimmer of hope for Amir and Sohrab.

It also addresses the new guilt that Amir has both for what he has done in the past and his younger self.

Amir now turns to God for forgiveness and also to help Sohrab.

What does the title The Kite Runner mean with regard to the plot of the story?

The title refers to the character Hassan, Amir’s good friend who narrators the story.

It also refers to the events that change the lives of the boys, the competitive kite running, which is as much as of a national sport in Afghanistan as playing football in the United States.

The title also refers to the freedom of the kite which is made possible by controlling it through manipulation of the spool.

This book captures the story of their friendship in ‌these aspects of it.

Why is the kite runner important?

The Kite Runner focuses nearly only on male relationship, a father and son relationship.


The plot, childhood, innocence, diversity, love, war, loyalty, royalty, honor, sin, redemption, good, bad, power, friendship. Each of which is tied in a string called The Kite Runner, that is definite to take away your heart.

How does kite runner show betrayal?

Amir commits several betrayals in the story’s plot.

To prove himself to his father, Amir throws Hassan under the bus.

It also happens when Amir redeems himself by coming to the rescue of Hassan’s son, but ‌he abandon’s son committing another betrayal.

Baba displays betrayal by sleeping with Ali’s wife, Sanaubar, and she becomes pregnant.

Baba betrays a friendship which had gone for over forty years.

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