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Symbolism is a highly important device in literature. It can help writers give their works more richness and depth. Symbolism plays an important role in revealing themes and character traits in Khaled Hosseini’s book, “The Kite Runner”. It is shown in the story with Kites, Lambs, and a Slingshot. Each one of these items not only represents a physical object but also is a metaphor for themes and characters in the book. Khaled excellently ties together these themes with the events that take place in the story.

In the book, Kites play a large role and symbolize many aspects; not the least of which is Amir’s happiness and guilt. Firstly, Kite Flying is an activity that Amir respectfully enjoys and uses to earn Baba’s respect. This is shown in the novel when Amir says, “And that right there was the single greatest moment of my life, seeing Baba on the roof, proud of me at last” (Hosseini 66). This is stated after he wins the kite competition; showing that kite flying made him joyful and helped him become closer to his father. Second, while kites represent Amir’s happiness, they also represent his guilt and sorrow. After the kite race, Hassan is confronted by Assef who threatens to give him the kite. The kite ultimately leads to Hassan’s rape, which guilts Amir later on in the story. A pang of guilt that Amir would affiliate with kites until his eventual rise. Third, the kite is brought back again into the story for the last time, except this time it represents redemption and joyfulness. When Amir sees a kite after his journey he states, “I hadn’t flown a kite in a quarter of a century, but suddenly I was twelve again and all the old instincts came rushing back” (Hosseini 368). At the end of the story when Amir is with Sohrab, he teaches him to fly a kite. After the events Amir has gone through throughout the book, Amir has now made peace with his past, making the kite no longer represent guilt from a past event, but happiness and youth. In the end, the symbolism of the kite changes throughout the story and mirrors Amir’s character. It is not until Amir accepts the past that he can finally move on with his life and be free.

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The Kite Runner features many scapegoats; characters that suffer from the actions of others. Lambs are scapegoats in ‘The Kite Runner” and are used to represent various other characters in the story. To begin, Hassan is one of the many characters that the lamb symbolizes. During Hassan’s rape, Amir directly states, “Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba” (Hosseini 68). Like the lamb’s sacrifice, Hassan also made a sacrifice for Amir. Despite it not being an act that would gain him anything, Hassan took the hit for Amir even if Amir would have not done the same thing for him. Next, the lamb symbolizes Sohrab. Similar to Hassan, Sohrab was also raped and abused by Assef. He had to suffer from events that were not in his control, likewise how the lamb was slaughtered for food. Last, all the orphans from the orphanage are connected to the lamb. The orphans were all scapegoats and innocent beings who never did anything wrong. They were purely born into a situation that exploited their innocence and rewards the evil of others. To conclude, the Lamb, especially the slaying of the lamb represents many things including Hassan’s rape, and acts as a symbol of the cruelty that is imposed on the innocent.

Khaled Hosseini writes many objects in the story to be particularly important. Many objects from Amir’s past come back to him when he is all grown up. One of them is a slingshot, the gift Amir gives Hassan. It shows up at the beginning of the story and later on in the story and acts as a bridge between two generations. Firstly, Hassan uses it to protect Amir and himself from Assef and his friends when he says, “If you make a move, they’ll have to change your nickname from Assef ‘the ear eater’ to ‘one-eyed Assef’, because I have the rock pointed at your left eye” (Hosseini 42). Amir uses the slingshot in self-defense but does not end up inflicting pain. As Assef is the neighborhood bully, it just goes to show Hassan’s bravery. Later on, Sohrab, Hassan’s son ends up pointing the slingshot at Assef as well. Except for this time, he inflicts pain on Assef. He also shows bravery, arguably at an even higher level than Hassan as Sohrab stands up against an adult much older than him. Overall, both father and son end up pointing the same slingshot as Assef in a time of crisis. The slingshot symbolizes the connection between the two generations and the braveness. It shows how like father-like son, similarities are shared between the two and that Sohrab ended up going through with his father’s threats.

To summarize, The Kite Runner is an expertly crafted novel that is chock full of literary devices. From the dynamic characters to the riveting conflict, Hosseini focuses on symbolism just as equally and gives meaning to many of the objects that are apparent in the story. As a result, it added more depth to the story and made the novel flow together nicely. After reading the book, one could still be able to reflect and find meaning. With kites showing the happiness and guilt of Amir, Lambs representing scapegoats, and the slingshot symbolizing the connection between two generations, it is evident that Khaled put a lot of thought into his story as those were just a handful of the objects that symbolized other themes and ideas in the book. There is most likely tons more symbolism that Khaled planted throughout his story that we have yet to discover. From each read though, readers will be able to pick up more and more details each time.

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