In the novel The Kite Runner, author Khaled Hosseini uses two distinct scenes from protagonist Amir’s life to frame his novel: witnessing the sexual assault of his childhood friend Hassan, and later kite running for his deceased friend’s son Sohrab. By creating these two scenes, Hosseini echoes the sentiment of the passage, “Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end...crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis.” Hosseini uses these scenes to frame the novel in order to emphasize a major theme in his novel: despite triumph and tragedy, life continues. These two events frame the novel as one of both joy and sadness, and each section demonstrates the truthfulness of part of the old Afghan saying.
The rape of his friend Hassan is a memory which haunts Amir throughout the novel. This scene is significant in the framing of the novel by demonstrating that triumph is not absolute. Despite Amir’s joy at winning the tournament – and therefore his father’s admiration – the victory is quickly turned sour by witnessing such a traumatic event. However, although Amir and Hassan are both deeply affected by antagonist Assef’s egregious actions, the world as a whole remains blissfully unaware that such an event ever occurred. This calamity proves the truth of part of saying: just as a broken axel on one kochis’ wagon will not affect those around him, our personal crises do not affect the lives of those around us.
Decades later, after Amir has rescued Hassan’s son Sohrab from the now-Taliban-enlisted Assef, he finally witnesses a small moment of joy in Sohrab’s otherwise tragic life. In a sense, this is a moment of catharsis for Amir, as he is finally relieved of some of the weight of responsibility for Sohrab’s unhappiness. However, though this is a joyous occasion for Amir and his wife, though, it is simply a small footnote in the lives of those around them. Few others took notice of the small, lopsided smile that crossed Sohrab’s face, and it did not significantly impact the lives of any of the other members of the Afghan community. This scene serves to frame the novel in that it again plays off of the themes of tragedy and triumph: though Sohrab has suffered greatly, he finally found a small moment of happiness.
Amir’s experiences both as a child and later as an adult serve to frame the novel as one of both loss as well as victory, and the interconnectivity of the two. The Afghan saying serves to unify the novel by juxtaposing these themes, noting that life is a continuous journey, and that ultimately the forces of good and evil balance each other. Hosseini’s major point however, is that the world as a whole remains unmoved by the individual’s experiences. Though to Amir each moment will remain with him as monumentally important, life is continuously moving forward; in spite of our best efforts to become significant, we are, and will remain, nothing more than fleeting shadows.