Below, we give you a chapter-by-chapter summary of the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
In 2001, the narrator, Amir, recalls that the moment which defines him took place in 1975 when he was twelve years old. He reveals that last summer, he got a call from Rahim Khan, his father’s friend and associate, who asked him to meet in Pakistan. After he hung up, Amir went to a park and watched the kites flying in the sky, remembering Hassan, a hare-lipped boy who was his kite runner.
Amir recalls getting into trouble for his childhood adventures, and that Hassan always disapproved of them, but still followed him. Amir remembers his childhood home, where he lived with his father, Baba. Amir believed that his home was the most beautiful in Kabul, and compares it to the modest servants’ home in which Hassan and his father Ali lived. While Amir’s mother died in childbirth, Hassan’s mother Sanaubar – who had a bad reputation – ran away soon after giving birth. Ali, Hassan’s father, has a limp because of polio and the children in the neighborhood make fun of him.
While Amir and his father are Pashtun, Hassan and Ali are Hazara, a persecuted ethnic group that Amir reads about in a history book. After reading, Amir begins to understand why other children bully Hassan and Ali for their Hazara mongoloid features. After Sanaubar left her husband and child, Baba hired the same woman who nursed Amir to nurse Hassan.
Amir thinks about his father, who was a strong man and people said about him that he had once wrestled a bear. Baba was also an ambitious man who was determined to show people that he could do anything he put his mind to, like building an orphanage even though he had no architectural training. When people doubted Baba could marry well, he married Amir’s mother, a university teacher and one of the most respected women in Kabul.
Amir also remembers Baba’s moral character and one of their discussions about the difference between learning in school and being educated. When Amir suggests that Baba is sinful because he drinks alcohol, Baba replies that the only sin is theft. He teaches Amir that stealing is the only punishable sin. This, Baba believes, includes killing a person by stealing their life or stealing someone’s right to know the truth.
Although Amir tries to please Baba, he often feels that he disappoints him. Amir loves reading and poetry, while his father is more into sports and what are stereotypically seen as manly activities. One night, Amir overhears his father telling Rahim Khan, his associate, that he is worried that Amir is not going to be able to stand up for himself as he grows up. Rahim Khan defends Amir, telling Baba that he is not a mean and violent boy. The next day, Amir is rude to Hassan and thinks that he can also be mean if he wants to.
Back in 1933, when Baba was born, Ali’s parents were killed by two drunk drivers. Amir’s grandfather took Ali in, and he and Baba grew up together as playmates. In the stories about his childhood, Baba never refers to Ali as his friend, and Amir realizes that he does not think of Hassan as his friend either. Amir convinces himself that their religious differences are the main element that prevents him and Hassan from truly being friends. Although they grow up together and play together, their lives are different. Amir goes to school and studies, while Hassan stays home and helps his father with the chores.
After school, Amir often reads to Hassan in a pomegranate tree on Baba’s property. Although Hassan does not know how to read, he loves listening to Amir’s stories. The boys’ favorite story is “Rostam and Sohrab”, in which Rostam wounds Sohrab in battle only to find out that Sohrab is his long-lost son.
One day, Amir plays a trick on Hassan and invents his own story, which Hassan then praises as the best one he has ever listened to. That night, Amir writes his story, which he later tries to show his father. Baba shows little interest, but Rahim Khan offers to read the story. Before he leaves, Rahim Khan gives Amir a note in which he encourages him to keep writing. Excited, Amir goes and wakes Hassan to read him his story, but gets frustrated when Hassan suggests a minor tweak to the plot.
One night, Amir, Hassan, and Ali hear gunfire on the streets of Kabul. They are frightened, but Ali comforts them as t...