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Centro Escolar University In cooperation with Centro Escolar Intergrated School-Makati

A Critical Paper for the course Reading and Writing

The Identical Differences: Some Culturalism in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner

Lea Rose Jeorgia C. Salonga ABM1-E

Abstract The basis of this analysis was to divulge the experience of an immigrant person, to allocate the culture of an individual who suddenly continued his life into a new culture. The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini is a novel that discusses the philosophy of culture. This analysis involves discovering how Afghanistan changed and progressed over past quarter century. This also implies the tradition of Afghan people that portrayed by the characters. The hardships of the Afghan people are revealed through power and brutality of the invaders. The difference between the culture of Afghanistan and America was absolutely disparate. The presented paper not just intricate the Afghan people but as well as the changes that occurs in the life of Baba and Amir. Since Russian invades the Afghanistan, a great change happens and that change last forever. The misery of an immigrant is not facile.

Keywords: Culture, immigrant, differences, American, Afghanistan

Date of Submission February 27, 2017



The Identical Differences: Some Culturalism in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner It is never too late to start over again, never too late to start a new chapter in life. However, it will be very challenging to recover and start anew for those who have already struggled and suffered. During the Soviet Invasion in 1979, Amir and Baba’s life drastically changed under the Taliban. Everything became different as it affected their properties such as their houses and land. Because Baba is well-known as an outspoken anticommunist, every moment they remain in Afghanistan, their lives were in grave danger so they were forced to flee to Peshawar, Pakistan and eventually migrate to Northern California, America. In making their escape from Afghanistan and in making a new and difficult life in California, Amir and his father Baba redefined their relationship. When he was a child, Amir longs for his critical father’s affection as he always favor their servant and also his playmate Hassan. Back then, Amir didn’t know that Hassan was also Baba’s son. As they seek refuge into a foreign land, Amir and Baba had no choice but to rely on each other. Both of them strived hard to fit in at first, they find it really hard to embrace the American culture since the Afghan culture is the only culture they have ever known. Baba and Amir, who were accustomed to living inside the luxury and comfort of their mansion in Afghanistan, now forced to settle in a small apartment as Baba takes a job at a gas station. Every Sunday, Baba and Amir make extra money selling used goods at a flea market in San Jose. (It is here that Amir meets his future wife—the daughter of an Afghan general). They both realized that in America the cost of living is very high and everyone is working hard regardless of their status in life, and servants are less common. Adjusting to a foreign culture is not just about adjusting to the language, music, beliefs and traditions but also about interacting and forming relationships between people. Amir eventually became his father's partner and then his protector, he is always there to look after him and also the one who took care of him as he suffered and died of cancer. Through everything, Amir achieved a loving relationship with Baba. Then, he battled himself to find his identity, personally and

professionally. Amir created stories from his imagination; his desire to write and his talent for writing was very evident even way back at his early stage in life. He persisted even though he sometimes receive no understanding, encouragement, or appreciation from Baba. As a young adult living in California, he pursued college and found success as a writer. In this story, Amir proved that event hough he encountered different challenges when he first arrived in the United States, adopting and embracing a foreign culture is not a hindrance to success. Fifteen years later, a family friend told Amir that his half-brother and childhood playmate Hassan has already died. Unfortunately, he orphaned a boy named Sohrab. Due to guilt and empathy, Amir went back to Afghanistan and attempted to rescue Sohrab. After fighting Assef and rescuing the boy, Amir and his wife Soraya decided to adopt Sohrab. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini not just emphasizes the relationship between the family of Amir, Hassan and Baba but also tackles the difference between the Afghan and American culture. Writing stories comes out naturally for Hosseini. His passion for writing stories started when he was still a child. Khaled Hosseini wrote this novel for the children of Afghanistan. For them to learn about their past, to commemorate and remember and eventually be guided by their history. He wants to spread information and share his own experience to the children there. As an afghan he doesn’t want others to just throw the beauty that originates from their generation. Through The Kite Runner, he used it to convey and express his concerns about his homeland, Afghanistan. In addition, Hosseini inspires to write the book because of his own experiences in his life. With all of this assertion, the following topics shall be discussed in this paper: The different culture of American and Afghanistan, The traditions of Afghan people, the life of Amir and Baba in the two cultures. The Kite Runner is considered a novel related to philosophy of culture because of the rights and wrongs and the nature of evil. The land of Afghan The population of Afghanistan includes many different ethnic groups. Afghanistan has been disrupted over the past 25 years by civil wars, invasions, rule of the Taliban, and terrorist activities which have destroyed much of the country's culture, family and tribal connections, thus creating hundreds of thousands of refugees (Farlina, 2008). The Kite Runner portrays the culture of Afghanistan that provides the life and nature of Afghan people.

One of the traditions in Afghan is the kite-fighting tournament that was also shown in the story. Kite-fighting is a favorite pastime for the men and boys of Afghanistan (Shafiq, 2013). Amir and Hassan practiced kite flying throughout the year so that they can join and competition, they also saved their allowance just to buy kite and kite materials. Boys tend to have cuts on their hands as they steer kites tied to glass string to cut other fights out of the air. Hassan has a technique when he fights his kite he always lifts and dive, that’s the way on how he plays it. Amir won the tournament and made his Baba proud of Him, for the first time. On a certain occasion of a spring time, Afghanistan’s national passion was presented in the story is also the tradition called “Buzkashi”. It is a dangerous game in which men on horseback fight to try to put a goat or cattle carcass in a scoring circle. Amir goes to the Buzkashi tournament with his father, Baba. He was nervous because of the expectation of his father from his ability that he can win to that tournament. At the end, he does not win and the both of them got disappointed. In addition, his father thought that he never be like his son because of that. Eid-e-Qorban is also a tradition of Afghan; it is a celebration of the near sacrifice of his son that Ibrahim almost made for God. Amir, Hassan and their fathers stand in the backyard to see this ritual every year. Kabulis dressed their best and wear their newest clothes. According to Amir, the custom is to divide the meat in thirds, one for the family, one for friends and one for the poor. However, Baba only gives all the meat to the poor because he said that rich are fat enough already. Baba and Amir does not a religious person at all but they respect their religion and custom. After the division of meat, they offer prayers. Even when Amir was already in America, he used the custom of marriage from his native land, Afghanistan. The marriage in Afghanistan can be a long process that takes many steps. The marriages have to be approved by the wife’s family as well as the husband’s. In the novel, Amir asked permission from his father first before marrying Soraya. Baba and Amir went to the house of Soraya and Amir talks to Soraya’s parents if they will approve him to get the hand of their daughter. There are three groups of people in Afghanistan: The Tajiks, Hazaras and Pashtuns but the most presented in the story are the Hazaras and Pashtuns. The Taliban are the people in the government and they are commonly Pashtuns. Conflict is prominent with the terrorism of the

radical group, Taliban. Racism among religion and race are abundant (Burton, 2013). Amir and Baba are Pashtuns while Hassan and Ali are Hazaras. Hazaras are called to discriminate names such as “mice eaters” and were beaten by Pashtuns. Pashtun is the major ethnic group in Afghanistan. It is customary for the Hazara to become the servants of Pashtuns just like Hasssan and Ali. They received a lot of judgments by the children around and most especially by Assef. Older kids chased them on the streets, and mocked them when they hobbled by. “Hey, Babalu” , “Who did you eat, you flat-nosed Babalu?” those are the words that Pashtuns used to tease Hazaras because of the characteristic Hazara Mongoloid features. The attitude of Assef towards Hazaras is not that good for a certain reason that he believes that Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns (Hosseini,2003) There is only one religion presented in The Kite Runner which is the Islam but it has two kinds: Sunni Islam and Shi’a Islam. Sunni Islam is the main and largest section in Islam, around 84% of Afghani Muslims follow Sunni Islam. Afghanis who practices Sunni Islam are primarily Pashtun, Assef, Amir and Baba belongs to this group while Shia’as mostly made of Hazaras where they count for 9% of the population (Shamnad, 2010). Shia’as mistreated through several different periods and has physical features that help distinguish from Sunni Muslims. The issue of “racism” in Afghanistan is not already new. People who are officials or even came from a royal blood have their prides and ego. They depends their identities based their attitudes. Taliban people are the ones who let their country bias when it comes to the rank of the other people because of their treatment to Hazaras. The Immigrant Experience The Kite Runner effectively demonstrates the difficulties faced by immigrants who were forced to leave his homeland and adopt to a foreign culture. Baba and Amir left their homeland because of the invaders. Over 5 million Afghans abandoned their homes and went into exile other countries. Close to 1.5 million lost their lives (Shamnad, 2010). Some immigrants die before they reach their new homes because of the terrorists. According to Dar (2011), the adjustment to a new country is not just about learning of a new language; it is about the maintaining and some semblance of your own culture. Based from the story, ones can change his country but you cannot change the fact that the first culture will lasts

forever in the hearts of individual. It is not necessary to live in a new country. When Russian invades to Afghanistan, most of the Pashtuns, especially Amir and Baba flee to America to save them from several invasions from foreign countries. It shows that the Pashtun is the richest ethnic. It is very different with Hassan since he just lives in Afghanistan with the dangerous situation and continues to live in a small village in Afghanistan. For Amir, He flew to America to bury his past memories and to start a new life in America. In America, Amir lives in California where the Afghans immigrants live there. Amir and Baba still keeps their tradition and their habits as the Pashtun ethnic. They want their culture still exist although they are in America. Amir and Baba realize the relativity of their social position when they struggle to create a new life in America. In his new world, their ethnic and religious status counts for nothing, and it is here that Amir begins his journey of self-discovery. For me, America was a place to bury my memories (p.140). Khaled Hosseini he used the Amir’s character that is to emphasize that even he encounter hardships of being an immigrant he can still start over again. America is place for Amir to forget everything bad about Afghanistan. Amir start his new life, a big transformation of him was began. Amir does not find difficult to embrace the culture of America though he still follow the beliefs and customs of his native land. He still loves to write stories; he sells hardcopy of his stories. Amir graduated college in America. Amir found his other half, Soraya. Amir begins his journey of self-discovery. Baba loved the idea of America. It was living in America that gave him ulcer (p.136). There is an incidence wherein Baba forgets that he is not a privileged merchant anymore when he was talking to General Taheri. Living in America, Baba struggles more because he has been in Afghanistan his whole life and lived by those traditions and not the traditions of the American culture. From being a successful human, Baba works in a gas station. Based on the gestures and actions of Baba, he can’t still move on what his life on Afghanistan because of his extreme personality. Baba is having a little trouble adjusting to their new life in United States. Baba is not adaptable to change because he had the best life in Afghanistan. In America, the immigrants come along with their original culture. However, they face many kind of problems in the host country; they realize that they are different with the

local people, by having a different name, physical appearance, culture, ethnicity, and religion among other things (Farlina, 2008). As we can notice, immigrants are having a hard time coping with new set of beliefs, traditions, religion or even people. The Cultural Differences The Kite Runner is a bildungsroman that illustrates the differences between the two countries and the two vastly different cultures. The Kite Runner takes two settings, America and Afghanistan. There is a lot of difference in the two cultures that made the story has twits. People became more aware of cultural identities when we found ourselves in another culture than when we are in our own culture. Every culture has their own language, tradition, and beliefs that you need to understand to study in order for you to be fit on their society. In Afghanistan, the characters presented are commonly the boys. Boys need to be masculine just like Hassan’s character in the story, a boy who always play outside of their house, who are strong enough to face any challenges and a boy who can offer his life to others. Unlike Amir, he just loves to write stories and explores his imagination which is not the quality of an Afghani boy. In the novel it is presented that there is a complete absence of women and the stress of relationships lies on ties that are formed between males. Racism is always in the nature of Afghan people. It focuses on the qualities of loyalty, manhood and trust. In this country, they care about other people especially who are in low class. Afghan people believe that America is a rich country it was notice when Amir was wearing a cowboy suit. Only rich people can wear that suit that comes from America. Afghanistan is a terror country if they do not want you in their place they will put you in danger just like what Assef and his friends did to Hassan they raped them because they want Hassan to depart their country. America is known for its liberated country which means they are free. It is a place was everybody is welcomed (Dough, 2010). Amir and Baba can freely express themselves and they are not forced to be someone they are not. In America, people are more open minded and do not discriminate whether you are Hazara or not. They can do what they want. There is no racism occurred. Relationships are formed between females and males. It focuses more on the characteristics of comradeship and equality that makes the relationship stronger. In this country, countrymen’s doesn’t care with those immigrants what they need is just to follow the rules. As

time goes by, they realize is also a good place where they can continue their life. Amir finished his college and becomes a successful and famous writer in America. Conclusion: The story elaborates how life goes within a culture you’ve grown from. It was a very fascinating novel. The saddest part of the story is when the culture has suffered from the disruptions of war and politics. Cities, houses, and landscape were destroyed. After the land of Afghanistan was invaded, a lot of changes happened. Most of the people living there are the Russian people. However, Afghans are independent and strong people who still continue their life besides of the thing happened in their country. Amir and Baba learns to adopt other cultures but they also still follow the belief that comes from their native land. The Kite Runner is a novel that focuses and emphasizes the culture of a country and how it flows within the society. Therefore, the strength of our cultural identities involves the degree to which we see our culture as important in the way we define ourselves.

Reference: Internet Sources Burton, S. (2013). The Middle East Racism. Retrieved from https://prezi .com/188tv1he4uq1/culturalconnections-of-the-kite-runner/ Dar, M. (2011). People here, People There. Retrieved from Dough, J. (2010). Cultural Differences. Retrieved from Shafiq, M. (2013). Kite-Fighting. Retrieved from

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