The protagonist’s best friend is his servant and a member of the discriminated against ethnic minority, presenting a fairly complex relationship between them. The novel questions if love for a friend should outweigh the divisions of class and ethnicity.
The whole novel revolves around Amir’s betrayal of Hassan, with Hosseini asking important questions in the pre-betrayal and post-betrayal chapters. Most importantly, it is this betrayal that drives Amir’s quest for redemption, through Sohrab. We also discover Baba’s betrayal of Ali later on in the novel, creating an interesting parallel between Amir and his father.
Hosseini directly compares the arrival of war to a loss of innocence, by having Hassan’s rape occur just after the Russian army invade Afghanistan. He also explores how honour and dignity can survive in the midst of war.
Baba is a good example when looking at this theme, he has very strong principles (as shown in Chapter 3 and Chapter 10) and when Amir goes against them, he doesn’t confess for fear of disappointing Baba, resulting in Ali and Hassan leaving Kabul.
The Kite Runner examines different types of racism: out-and-out hatred, religious justification of racism, non-violent racism, internalised racism and racism that coexists with kindness. Through Amir and Hassan, the plot shows that the ethnicity some people treat so poorly is actually closer to them than they may think.
Baba embodies the ideal Afghan man (strong, respected and with good principles), but despite growing up in a house full of men, Amir doesn’t conform to the traditional Afghan model of manhood, which allows the novel to question what it really means to be a man.
At the start of the novel, it seems like there are two approaches to religion: extremist like Mullah Fatiullah Khan or liberal like Baba. Religion is used to justify some of the horrific acts in the book, but by the end of the novel, we also see religion more positively, in religious sentiment and recourse to God in times of suffering.
Amir’s intense admiration for Baba leads him to do terrible things, due to the harsh flip-side of admiration in this novel being jealously. Yet, there is also Hassan, whose unfaltering admiration of Amir seems to be more out of loyalty and devotion than jealously.
At the beginning, Amir cruelly uses literature as a tool to manipulate Hassan, but at the same time, literature can also be seen in a positive light, too, as poetry helps Amir to build a bridge to his dead mother.