Khaled Hosseini presents to us a chapter of contrasts in chapter 10 through the traits of Amir and Baba, the physicality of people and contrasts between visual places. In which they all convey a significant meaning to this specific chapter. It’s an momentous moment in the novel that displays the struggle of change and how this effects the characters in their prime.
Unlike other chapters in the novel, Hosseini displays this chapter in a third person narrative. We are being told about the events around Amir as everything just happens in which he has no in put to. Amir is demonstrated as a passive character watching all the events passing by, he fears the change and fears his father is ashamed of him.
“I knew he saw my car sickness as yet another of my array of weakness- I saw it on his embarrassed face” Accepting that it is yet another display of his weakness portrays he has no willpower or belief he is anything but weak. This is rather significant in chapter 10 as it shows how Amir can’t contribute to anything because he has strung himself to vulnerable characteristics that he can’t seem to see through his own attitudes. Also, this can be interpreted as the powerlessness that these characters possess about where they are moved to, they are being forced out of Afghanistan by the soviet army who had arrived in Afghanistan in 1979. Third person usually generates a sense of god-like feature however, by the events and the lack of in-put by characters portrays the inability to stop anything from happening creating a dramatic tension.
During the escape to Pakistan, Amir is suddenly struck with car sickness revealing his weakness. This is immediately contrasted with Baba’s strength and bravery preventing the Russian soldier from raping the woman in the truck. This also instantly referred back to the scene when Amir did not prevent the rape of Hassan in chapter 7. Baba is portrayed like a man of steel when he stands up to the Russian soldier “Tell him I’ll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place” juxtaposing Amir’s actions at the rape of Hassan. Amir becomes overwhelmed by guilt and hopelessness. The contrast between father and son are clearly divided to show the gulf between them in personality. Khaled Hosseini may have chosen to portray this as a tool to make readers feel empathy for Amir.
Journeys throughout the novel are manly associated with car sickness for Amir. The sickness is represented as a metaphor for Amir because he has an inability to cope with change which makes him sick to the stomach. It also shows that Amir is possessed with fear.
There is also vivid descriptions of the basement in which Amir and father wait for the final part of their journey. He pays attention to the little details and tells us how he can see “shapes huddled around the room, their silhouettes thrown on the wall by the light of pair of kerosene lamps” and then later “I discover the source of the scratching sounds, Rats” The focus of little details demonstrate a claustrophobic environment in stark contrast to Amir’s earlier description of his house Baba had build for them. There is limited description of their house but are very rich and grand compared to the basement which they are in closed in. The contrast influences the reader to pay attention to the state of status in which they are now with in from fleeting from Afghanistan has caused. It is symbolic that Afghanistan was their sanctuary place where power and comfort lies but now, nowhere feels safe and the new life connotes danger and fear.
The description of the basement also can represented as a metaphor that they are being kept in the dark of reality and they cannot be do anything. The metaphor brings a sombre feeling due to the common connotations of a basement that is underground, dark and claustrophobic area.
At the end of the chapter we are shown a horrific event, the death of kamal on the escape. However, despite the initial horror this can be seen as a symbol of a chance for Amir to esacpe his problems finally. He can now move on with his new life without bring all the ‘baggage’ of his past with him.
What significance do journeys have in The Kite Runner as whole?
Throughout the Novel, Khaled Hosseini generally presents journeys with a state of sickness through Amir. Hosseini also presents a journey of development of characters. Intertwining between these journeys; there are significant metaphorical symbolisms littered though chapters of The Kite Runner. This is a bildungsroman narrative in which we see the main protagonist, Amir take a journey from a innocent child into a mature married man.
The journey that Khaled Hosseini focuses on through this novel is the journey of seeking redemption. Amir travels from place to place overwhelmed by guilt he has been desperately trying to escape from and the one place he gains redemption was the place it all had started, Kabul. In the final chapter there is a sense of hope and atoned sins being converted into the last lines of chapter 25. “Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting” Amir has just witnessed Sohrab smiling for the first time and takes on board that it’s the beginning of the sins becoming atoned and the baggage is finally shifting from him. Hosseini uses a metaphor for the start of his redemption little by little as the sun begins to melts away his sins. Hosseini describes the guilt as a snow flake, which has covered up the surface for so long. It also links back to the day in its self as it was snowing that day in December when the rape of Hassan happened portraying it was a dark place for Amir mentally and physically.