Sunday, July 02, 2006

SyL's over-view of 'Kite Runner'

Alas we have reached the end! Then again, the 'end' of one novel means the start of a new one - hooray!

A note to some visitors of The Bookish Clubbers - f you have not finished reading the Kite Runner, do not read on - spoilers ahead!

It's rather tough to write an overview of the novel as it has been a month since I've read it. But I'll stick to my take about how melodramatic and typical Hosseini has written this story, with characters so unbelievably sacrificial and how cliche some images were as Amir redeemed himself. However, I must give credit to the smooth 'read-ability' he has engaged his readers in - for I finished the novel pretty quickly! It was engaging enough for me to be enchanted and read on. Apart from a couple of potholes I've experienced in his storyline, I'll rate him a 6.5/10. =)

Amir redeems himself by achieving three things - (i) fighting with Assef as a grown-up over Sohrab (a mini-Hassan) like how he should have reacted when he witnessed the sodomisation (ii) standing up for Sohrab in telling his father-in-law that he was not to refer to him as a Hazara, something Amir had been ashamed of admitting when he was a boy (iii) going through a tough and emotional process but successfully adopting his brother's son, to repay his own sin of silence and acknowledge their blood ties.

As it is a normal process for a protaganist to redeem him/herself throughout a story, I wondered how Amir would accomplish that task - being happily married yet without a child. I had expected a tough journey (duh) like a physical fight (so I was right), because Baba has always deemed Amir as physical weakling who doesn't 'rough it up'. Furthermore, Amir did not fight Assef when he was taunted and he kept quiet when Hassan was sodomised. This is what I mean when I said that there are many tell-tale or foreshadowing events about what was to come. Because I had already expected a physical fight to take place, I winced when I read that Amir emerged victorious, but with a cut lip, resembling Hassan's cleft lip. Also with Sohrab's excellent delivery with the slingshot, and shooting Assef's eye like what Hassan had threatened as a boy. But I did not expect that Sohrab would be the solution to Amir's childless home and that there was more difficulty ahead to get the American citizenship for Sohrab - so, redeeming himself wasn't that simple after all.

The use of mirror reflection emerges again (I'm not saying that using such a technique is bad; it's only a matter of when and what to be reflected that I am uncomfortable with) when Hassan's son resembles him - deft with his slingshot, fulfilled Hassan's threat of shooting Assef in the eye and falling prey to nasty Assef - and how Amir cut his upper lip into two, looking just like his brother, Hassan. How typical.

The twist of the story is knowing that Hassan is Amir's brother and that Baba isn't a saint after all. That explains Baba's partiality towards Hassan and how he reflects some of Baba's own characteristics. Talking about this point, Shaz's first entry about Irony and my question about who Hassan was crying for as he listened to the story came to mind (I was thinking aloud in my sister's kitchen in Brissy as I narrated the story to her).

On May 25th I wrote - "Something noteworthy - Amir wondered if Hassan was tearing for the regretful father who unknowingly mortally-wounded his son, or for the son who longed for his father's love. What do you reckon?" It's ironical for Hassan to cry for the characters in the story - the regretful father who allowed his other son to 'wound' him or for the son who longed to be loved by his true (I assumed) father, when he is in a position like that himself. It is, a story within a story.

Somehow, I think that there is one hero in the novel who has gone unmentioned - Ali. Imagine how he feels about his boss deflowering his wife (even though she is already in a wanton state that she is; it's more about integrity I would say) and yet paying so much loyalty towards Baba. What about raising a son that isn't his? To be deemed as a Hazara and let Hassan hang his head in shame, but to retain some dignity when they left the house during the accusation of stolen money from a spoilt and cowardly boy? Sigh... how noble of Ali. Sob sob.

On a good note, it was also an enjoyable read about how Amir looked at Afghanistan like a tourist after so many years, endangering himself for Rahim Khan initially, then directing his aim to seek for his remaining blood relative. I have visited Hosseini's website and he, like Amir, was revisiting Afghanistan from a nostalgic perspective, hence the vivid description of the place. Also, Hosseini found his old residence just like how Amir finally found Baba's house. Okay, okay, I'll allow the rest of you to read more on his website. It's a good view of how the novel came about. =)

The best part, or the best line, I would say for myself, would be "For you a thousand times over". Each time I read it, I feel a tug on my heart and I'll be swallowing a tightly-weaved ball of knotted pain - the innocence and devotion by the one who proclaimed it. Hosseini has successfully grasped the flapping thread of my heartstrings by starting his novel and ending it with the heart-rendering sentence, "For you a thousand times over".

As I closed the chapter, I sighed and smiled to myself - Hosseini's use of mirror reflections reigns once more.


Blogger avalon thought ...

To be honest, after reading Syl's objective views on the book, I would feel that this book is probably not worth my time, as I have said before. But oh! got sodomy! That seems like probably be the only exciting part of the book!

New book new book! *cannot wait*

11:19 pm  
Blogger shaz thought ...

Syl is quite right bout the foreshadowing telltale signs. Good critical reading.

8:38 pm  

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