The Kite Runner raises a range of topics and themes that have sociological importance and exemplify the pillars of power imbalances. In particular, the author thoroughly incorporates some divisive worldview- and ethnicity-related factors in the storyline. Some themes of interest include ethnic prejudice and religious devotion used as an excuse for violence, and the novelist develops them by creating a character that embodies these phenomena.
The author’s efforts peculiar to creating Assef, a well-written antagonist that views violence as a norm, foster the two themes’ development. Regarding the theme of weaponizing religion, Hosseini develops it by portraying Assef, the Taliban leader, as the proponent of the ideology of killing disguised as the land’s purification and something justified by God (276). In one of the scenes, Assef is shown skillfully spreading the radical philosophy among his guards and using “liberation” and “doing God’s work” as euphemisms for “killing” (Hosseini 276). Thus, Assef, as a representative of the extremist movement, actively uses his interpretation of God’s will to make violence seen as less irrational. The second theme, such as prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, is developed by means of depicting how Assef references his victims’ ethnicities in decision-making. When contemplating the act of raping Hassan, Assef highlights that Hassan is “just a Hazara,” meaning that assaulting and humiliating him is part of purifying Afghanistan rather than a real crime (Hosseini 75). Therefore, Assef’s contempt for the Hazaras permeates his transition to the movement’s leader, making the character personify ethnicity-based hatred aside from religious fanaticism.
To sum up, the themes of ethnic tension in Afghanistan and religion, including the Taliban’s interpretation of Islamic principles, are prominent in the novel. Character development and shedding light on Assef’s maturation and personal story assist the author in portraying the disastrous nature of these instances of social division. Assef’s presence also illustrates how dangerous philosophies are spread and misrepresented as the path to salvation.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. The Penguin Group, 2003.