Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Kite Runner

Updated: 1/24/2020
Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in The Kite Runner
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The Kite Runner Lesson Plans

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

Khaled Hosseini recaptures the beauty of Afghanistan, and in particular the city of Kabul, in his novel The Kite Runner. He narrates the troubled journey of a man named Amir, who is haunted by his past and the ghosts of his sins. The novel takes place as a flashback, with Amir remembering his childhood best friend Hassan, and the terrible thing that broke them apart. The novel is not only a history of Afghanistan before the Taliban took over, but it is also a story of redemption. Throughout the novel, Hosseini explores important themes and ideas, including the complications of friendship, the dangers of prejudice and discrimination, the search for redemption, and betrayal.

The Kite Runner

Storyboard Description

The Kite Runner Themes, Symbols, and Motifs

Storyboard Text

  • Image Attributions:Preparing the Kites ( - Jack Spades' Adventures - License: Attribution (
  • The kites are a matter of honor and pride. Hassan’s kite running instincts make him the best in the city, but his running of the last kite to fall leads to his assault and humiliation. The kites are banned shortly after the Taliban take over. Kites are what finally bring Sohrab and Amir together back in the United States.
  • Hassan loved to listen to the story of Rostam and Sohrab. The story details a legendary fighter who fights a man, but neither knows the true identity of the other. Rostam kills Sohrab, then discovers that Sohrab is his son. This story echoes Hassan and Amir, who don’t know they are brothers. By the time Amir discovers Hassan’s identity, Hassan is dead.
  • Sohrab becomes a symbol and a driving force for Amir in his search for redemption for what he did to Hassan. While Amir can’t save Hassan, he can save Sohrab from the hands of Assef. Giving Sohrab a chance at a new life in America, and a permanent, safe home is a way that Amir can make up for his betrayal of Hassan.
  • The brass knuckles are introduced at the beginning of the novel when Assef almost beats up Amir for hanging out with Hassan, a Hazara. When Amir goes to rescue Sohrab from the Taliban, Assef says that he has to earn Sohrab’s freedom. He takes out the brass knuckles and beats Amir nearly to death until Amir is saved by a little boy with a slingshot.