|The Kite Runner-by Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” deals with many contemporary issues. Set in war-torn Afghanistan, the reader follows the protagonist Amir through childhood in Afghanistan to adulthood in the United States. It is here where the reader learns the cruelty of human nature through the Machiavellian character Assef and all he stands for-the manifestation of evil.
The reader first sees the true nastiness of Assef when he rapes Hassan, Amir’s half-brother. Assef is a character who goes out of his way to torment others, including causing physical and mental abuse. However, it is not just Assef this pivotal point who portrays the cruelty of human nature, but Amir does also:
“He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?”
This is Amir’s justification for his inaction as he stood and watched Hassan’s rape. Amir would not stand up for Hassan as he was more concerned of protecting himself rather than anyone else. The neglect of Hassan as he went through the horrendous rape highlights how cruel humans can be in not willing to help anyone in need.
The cruelty of human nature is further displayed at Amir’s birthday party. Having power and respect in Afghanistan in pre-Taliban times was a major issue and is in Amir’s favour as his father is one of the richest men in Kabul. Hassan, being Amir’s servant has to serve drinks at Amir’s party:
“I couldn’t believe what I seeing. Hassan serving drinks off a silver platter to Assef and his family.”
This highlights the loyalty of the ‘Hazara’ Hassan. The cruelty is portrayed as Hassan still serves Assef drinks and is still polite to him showing the manipulative character of Assef and all he stands for- evil.
Cruelty of human nature is again portrayed in the setting of the horrifying stoning at the football stadium in Afghanistan. The Taliban enforced un-realistic rules which forced pain on many if these rules were to be broken. Amir witnesses briefly the half-time ‘entertainment’ but in the end:
“I closed my eyes.”
This emphasizes that Amir cannot come to terms with the cruelty that is going on for other people’s enjoyment. The Taliban, to this day participate in acts of torture to highlight their authority within Afghanistan.
Amir feels he has to redeem himself for the cruelty of neglect of Hassan when they were both children. In order to do so, Amir goes back to Afghanistan after fleeing to America to start a new life. He sets out to find Sohrab, Hassan’s son. Assef, and his implicit ways are witnessed when Amir finds Sohrab with Assef. He is forced to wear make-up and dance for the Taliban.
“I guessed music wasn’t sinful to Taliban ears”.
This highlights not only the hypocrisy of Assef and the Taliban but the cruelty also. Assef humiliated Sohrab by raping him, just like his father. The sickening nature of human cruelty is evidently witnessed at this stage in the novel as we see the extreme lengths that Assef goes to make Sohrab feel worthless. Much like bullying which happens in everyday life, the extremity that Assef feels he has to go to which leaves Sohrab feeling like on-one important is horrendous and further portrays cruel human behaviour.
In conclusion, cruel human behaviour can shapes someone’s life and the person that they are in society. They may have suffered some abuse, much like Sohrab, in Hosseini’s captivating novel. As a reader, we learn the varying lengths that one will go to make someone feel cheap and worthless. It enhances the novel as we can relate human cruelty in everyday life, not just within the manipulative character of Assef but in everyday society.