Social Commentary = commenting on issues in a society

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Social Commentary =  commenting on issues in a society

                               = informing the general public about a problem hoping to promote change

                               = expressing a point of view on a society


A social commentary, as the term suggests, is a comment on society, and not just a comment, but often a criticism. The criticism can be in the form of a comment on societal behavior or human nature, or can refer to a specific situation or trend in an area of the world at a particular point in time.




1.      Cultural Expectations: norms, traditions, laws

2.      Religion and faith: expectations, values, interpretations, conscience

3.      Race and ethnicity:  prejudices, stereotypes, scapegoats

4.      Power: leadership (positive and negative); within an individual, a friendship, a family, a society

5.      Social Conditions: poverty, economic circumstance, barriers to success



First Big Question:

What does the Khaled Hossieni seem to say about  _____topic_____ in The Kite Runner ?


Second Big Question:

How does the author reveal these themes to the reader?



Theme to thesis - stand OUTSIDE the work and analyze the author’s craft

a) Lord of the Flies presents a social commentary on the individual in society.  His novel suggests that humans are innately evil, and as a result, within a society or government, people will seek to fulfill their selfish needs. These views are revealed by looking closely at the characters of Jack, Roger, and Ralph.



b) 1984 by George Orwell presents a social commentary on the corrupt power of Communism. He suggests that this form of government is controlling and oppressive which leads to a society that is rigid, stagnant, and emotionless.  Orwell’s message is revealed through his use of symbolic words and characters.


c) To Kill a Mockingbird is a social commentary on discrimination in the American South in the 1930s. Lee expresses the idea that fear of the unknown leads to a person’s feelings of socially superiority but she also suggests that change is possible. This timeless theme is reflected by the novel’s dual plot lines and can also be applied to contemporary society.

 1.     Explore the way in which religion is portrayed in the novel The Kite Runner. What role does religion play in the lives of Baba, Amir, Ali and Hassan,and Assef, and the novel as a whole? What is the author saying about the importance and use of religion in society?


·         Though it is rarely the main focus, religion is nearly always present in Amir’s narrative. It is part of the culture of Afghanistan, and it is accordingly a fixture of the everyday life Amir describes.

·         Amir creates a complex portrait of both the positive and negative traits of religion, with the negative always stemming from fundamentalists who use their beliefs as an excuse to carry out violence against others and to limit people’s freedoms.

·         From what we learn of Baba’s feelings toward religion, this is not surprising. The first significant episode in the book involving religion, for instance, occurs when Amir, who is still a child, tells Baba that the mullah at school called drinking alcohol a sin as Baba pours a glass of whiskey. Immediately, the scene establishes a contrast between Baba and the mullah.

·         Baba calls the mullah and men like him bearded idiots and explains to Amir that theft, in its many variations, is the only true sin.

·         Baba obviously does not respect the beliefs of the mullah, yet he still has his own moral code.

·         Amir consequently grows up with a strong sense of morality, though it is entirely separate from Islam.

·         Yet religion also has a major role in determining the direction that Afghanistan takes in the years after Baba and Amir flee to the United States. Although Amir’s narrative does not give a clear step-by-step account of the political events in Afghanistan, the reader does know that fighting continued in the country even after the departure of the Russians, called the Shorawi.

·         Ultimately, the Taliban emerged with control, and from Amir’s narrative we learn that many of the Afghans who left their country think the Islamist government the group has created is simply a means for them to justify their violence and authoritarian rule.

·         The character that most represents this image of the Taliban is Assef, who tells Amir that he felt liberated while massacring Hazaras in their homes because he knew God was on his side.

·         Ultimately, however, Assef’s violence becomes his downfall when Sohrab shoots his eye out, and later, when Sohrab has tried to kill himself,

·         Amir has something of a religious conversion when Sohrab survives after Amir prays for God’s help.

·         Amir becomes an observant Muslim after that, but not a fundamentalist, making the case that religion is as good as the person practicing it.


2.  –Taliban or government

-Ethnic Cleansing

3.    Politics and economics


a)                  How do the different cultural influences/political control over Afghanastan affect the country as a whole and its citizens?   How did the communist regime change the lives of Amir, Hassan, and their families?


b)                  How might politics and economics  influence a country and its citizens?  


c)                  List at least four major economic aspects that touch the lives of the characters (gov’t, media, ethnicity, and culture)


d)                  How do the different cultural influences/political control over Afghanistan affect the country as a whole? How did the communist regime change the lives of Amir, Hassan and their respective families?

Sample Thesis Statements:

 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a criticism of the social structures and political regimes that have existed in Afghanistan over the last 50 years.  Hosseini expresses his message metaphorically by using the relationships between Amir and Hassan, Amir and Assef, and Amir and Sorhab to reflect the hardships endured by the country and his hope for the future.


 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a criticism of the social structures and political regimes that have existed in Afghanistan over the last 50 years as seen through situations of abuse of power, war, and inequality.  Unfortunately, many of Hosseini’s fears are still prevalent in Afghanistan today.



The Kite Runner  by Khaled Hosseini can be viewed as a criticism of the inequality between races and between genders in Afghan culture that has led to a corrupt society. This commentary is evident when looking closely at the Pashtun’s treatment of Hazara, and the differences between the roles of men and women in the novel.



  • To get your paper off to a great start, you should try to have a first sentence that engages your reader. Think of your first sentence as a hook that draws your reader in. It is your big chance to be so clever that your reader can’t stop.

  • Next you should introduce the topic of your paper. In the KR essay the focus is on social change and how it is represented in the novel. Themes can help to explain social change, but ultimately you are focusing on what the book is revealing about certain social conditions. Make sure that the reader is aware of what you believe these two to mean. 

  • Next you should provide a well rounded introduction to the novel, never assume the reader of the essay has read the novel. This is a tricky area because you don’t want to give too much summary, but you also want to get the main plot elements across to the reader.

  • Your thesis should appear towards the end of your paper.

  • A thesis is one sentence that states the focus of your paper as specifically as possible. It should be a sentence that contains all the key elements, novel title, author, chosen themes and the key characters.



A Sample Essay Intro

It is said, “There is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for one’s friend”.  These words were spoken by a man who truly practiced what he preached, Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated this by dying on the cross to forgive the world of its sins and to show his love.  In society, many fail to understand and correctly interpret the message of love and sacrifice Jesus sent to the world.  There are many times in life when people have to make sacrifices for the benefit and love of others. Most times these sacrifices are hard to make, but it is the difficulty that is overcome that shows their love for a person.  In 2003, Khaled Hosseini wrote the novel The Kite Runner which revolves around the theme of love and sacrifice.  The novel begins in the peaceful times of Kabul, Afghanistan with the young Amir and his playmate and servant Hassan.  It recounts the struggles between his wealthy father, Baba, and the deteriorating friendship between Amir and Hassan, and Baba and Ali. As the novel progresses, it shows the dissolution of the monarchy of Afghanistan and the ethnic tensions between the Hazara and Pastun tribes as Baba and Amir leave their life and friendships to move to a lower class in America.  In the novel The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini demonstrates the reoccurring themes of love and sacrifice through the characters Baba, Ali, and Hassan. Baba sacrifices his home and reputation so that his son, Amir, can become the man he is. Ali sacrifices his friendship and home for his son, Hassan’s, safety, and Hassan sacrifices his pride and friendship for Amir’s happiness and peace of mind.

 Example #2

Accepting change can be a difficult concept to grasp, but realizing that people need to change can only come with a willingness to take action, thus believing in our abilities. In the novel The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini in 2003, his main criticism about society is that the cultural expectations and ways of life have tainted personal morals and beliefs. He creates this idea through Amir’s ability to choose between beliefs and culture, Amir’s relationship with Hassan, and through Baba’s lessons of morality.

The Kite Runner Exemplars


Body Paragraphs

  • The essay needs to have more than 3 body paragraphs.  What this means is that you will have to figure out where to divide up subtopics. If one example is long, then make it one paragraph, and perhaps combine the other two examples together to make another paragraph.

  • Paragraphs need to be at least ½ to ¾  a page. In grade 12 U this is not unreasonable. Be very careful not to have too many short paragraphs either, if your intro is ½ to ¾ of a page, short body paragraphs will make the paper seem unbalanced.

  • Begin by having a topic sentence that identifies the first point of the thesis you are going to explain.

  • Be clear in directing the reader to all the examples you will discuss in this subtopic: for example “the first example of love and sacrifice for Amir…”

  • Identify the example, explain the example, have a quote to support what you said.

  • It is very important that the quote you choose backs up/supports something you said and is not just some random quote. If they do not fit together you will lose the reader’s focus and attention as it will not make sense.

  • If you wish, you can include a summary sentence for each paragraph. This is not generally needed, such sentences have a tendency to sound stilted, so be cautious about using them.

  • Usually in an essay of 5-7 pages – each example does not require a quote. That being said, it is up to your discretion. Quotations should only ever make up 30% of your essay, so use them wisely.

  • Quotations of more than 4 typed lines have a special format that must be used.

  • All quotations must have page numbers associated with them – otherwise your essay is incomplete.


A Sample Essay Subtopic


Hassan is the most significant person who demonstrated love and sacrifice in the novel since he was one of the most loving people in the novel. One example was when he “ran” the last kite that was eliminated from Kabul’s annual kite flying competition. Hassan understood the importance of the kite to Amir, and knew that he would need the kite in order to be declared the winner of the tournament, and therefore make Baba proud. When Assef, Wali, and Kamal demanded the kite from him, he remained loyal to Amir and refused to give away the kite, “’I’m letting you keep the kite, Hazara. I’ll let you keep it so it will always remind you of what I’m about to do’”(Hosseini 78). Since Hassan refused to surrender the kite, Assef raped him in order to punish him and show his own power and superiority as a Pashtun. This event was one of the most important examples of love and sacrifice because it affected the outcome of Amir’s and Hassan’s relationship and the outcome of the novel. Hassan sacrificed his innocence by getting raped in order for Amir to keep the kite and make Baba proud of Amir. Hassan accepts the rape and hardly struggled because of his everlasting love for Amir.


Example #2

As children mature into adulthood, many factors such as the cultural expectations placed upon them by society effect their growth. In the novel, the expectations laid upon Amir negatively influence his character towards Hassan. His contradicted mindset is evident when he states, “In the end…change that either” (Hosseini 27). Hosseini used Amir’s culture versus his personal beliefs to express the internal struggle which he must overcome by trusting his instincts. Amir’s struggle is easily relatable to how civilization is currently behaving when put in a place where people must make the choice between personal beliefs and what society convinces them of.

Moreover, as Amir matures and begins to accept his actions from the past, the reality of his relationship with Hassan becomes clear: “On the rickshaw ride…it was in Kabul.Waiting”(239). Amir has to come to the realization that no matter what society’s view or beliefs of him are, Hassan had always remained a trustworthy and loving friend, and that is the lone factor that is essential to any friendship. Through these internal struggles, Hosseini showcased the level of influence society has on a person’s beliefs and view of the world around him.

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