Social class is defined as, “A system of ordering society whereby people are divided into sets based on perceived social or economic status” (Oxford dictionary). In The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini, social class plays a significant role. Throughout the centuries humans continue to find ways to divide themselves into categories such as ethnicity, gender and culture. The Kite Runner establishes that society uses social class as an additional way to divide humans into categories. Although Amir has negative experiences related to social class, culture, and gender he learns to grow and become his own individual who believes in equal morals.
Due to the separation of Hazaras and Pashtuns, Amir experiences social barriers at a very young age. In the novel there are two major ethnic groups, Pashtuns are the superior ethnic group and are Sunni Muslims; Hazaras are the minority and are Shi’a Muslims. Hazaras work as servants for their entire life and are not given the opportunity to stand on their own feet due to their ranking in the hierarchy. In The Kite Runner, Hassan is a servant for Amir because he is a Hazara. Though both boys are around the same age, only Amir is allowed to attend school. Education puts many walls between Hazaras and Pashtuns, “School textbooks barely mentioned them and referred to their ancestry only in passing.” (9) Hazaras are erased from history in Afghanistan and do not have a voice in their own county and are treated like “load-carrying donkeys.” (10) Pashtuns believe that Hazaras “dirty [their Pashtun] blood.’ (43) and ‘Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns.” (43) However, this is morally wrong because Hazaras are Afghans and should not be erased from history. Hence, this situation makes Amir see a barrier between him and Hassan “because history isn’t easy to overcome. Neither is religion. In the end, [he] was a Pashtun and [Hassan] was a Hazara, [he] was Sunni and [Hassan] was Shi’a, and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing.” (27) This is upsetting because Amir feels the tension in his relationship with Hassan due to the separation between ethnicity and social class. Furthermore, it is clear that education acts as an invisible boundary between Amir and Hassan because he takes advantage of this situation, by playing little tricks on Hassan. Since Hassan does not have the education to be able to read, Amir makes “up [his] own.” stories. (32) Amir acknowledges the fact that Hassan is oblivious and uses this against him because “Words were secret doorways and [he] held all the keys” (32) This is disturbing because at such a young age Amir is fulsome of his social class and wrongfully benefits from his privilege. Finally, Assef a Pashtun rapes Hassan and Amir watches and comforts himself when he says, “He [Hassan] was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?” (82) This essentially proves that even though Hassan is a loyal friend to Amir, he only takes Hazara ethnicity and believes that Hassan should be treated as such. This is cruel because even at a young age, children like Amir believe that ethnicity and social class are far more important than being humane. This situation establishes another barrier between Amir and Hassan because Amir cannot relate to the pain Hassan goes through for being a Hazara. This makes Amir feel guilty and results in him pushing Hassan away from his life. Amir’s experiences build an invisible separation between him and Hassan which is irrational because children should not have to go through this at such a young age. However, the protagonist later grows as he sees the separation but uses his newfound knowledge. When Amir goes back to Afghanistan he sees the demolished conditions of how people are living due to the Taliban, “the beggars [are] mostly children now, thin and grim-faced, some no older than five or six.” (257) He starts to feel more empathetic and this results in Amir being eager to save Sohrab, Hassan’s son. When Amir brings Sohrab to America, General Taheri questions his decisions. He refers to Sohrab as “a Hazara boy” and Amir furiously says to not refer to Sohrab as a “Hazara” in his presence. This demonstrates that Amir understands that social classification should not come between individuals. This overall shapes Amir into a better individual by removing the idea of the separation of ethnicity and learning to accept people for who they are.
Amir goes through cultural differences between Afghanistan and America throughout his life. During his childhood, he attempts to understand the situation between Ali and his wife, Sanaubar since she is forced to marry him simply for honour’s sake. Sanaubar is forced to marry Ali to, “restore some honor to [her] uncle’s blemished name, even though Ali, who had been orphaned at the age of five, had no worldly possessions or inheritance to speak of” (10). This is alarming because she is married off like a piece of property. Though, this is normal in Afghan culture since women are not respected compared to men; Sanaubar is forced to marry her first cousin and suffers from a marriage she does not want. Amir goes over this in his childhood and does not fully understand Sanaubar’s situation. However, he comes to understand the cultural situations between America and Afghanistan through Soraya. Due to culture, Soraya is continuously controlled by her father. She is considered a rebellious Afghan because she goes against her father’s rules and runs away with her boyfriend. This is forbidden in Afghan culture and Taheri “showed up with a gun that night.” and “made [her] come home.” (173) This is tremendously disappointing because due to cultural expectations, her own life is threatened to be taken away by her father. This is outrageous considering the fact that she is not causing harm, she simply wants to live with the man she loves. She returns home with her father and is again forced to live under Afghan culture. This includes not being able to drink, because Taheri “[does] not approve of women drinking alcohol and Soraya does not drink it in his presence.’ (193) However, this is morally wrong because it should be her decision as an individual to make her lifestyle choices. Instead, she is forced to follow cultural expectations and adjust herself into being someone she is not. Throughout Amir’s childhood and adulthood, he learns that Afghan cultural expectations are too strict and he modifies his morals. He also starts to develop in the American society which alters his perspective. He proves this by giving Soraya the benefit of the doubt and he does not judge her based on her past actions. Amir also does not control his wife and permits her to drink alcohol and have an opinion about their life decisions. He also notices that he is “different” compared to other Afghan men because he “[has] never been exposed firsthand to the double standard with which Afghan society sometimes treated them.” (190) He understands that the Afghan culture is almost impossible for women to live by. This consciously demonstrates that Amir slowly alters his lifestyle around American culture, however, does not completely let go of his Afghan culture. When Amir and Soraya bring up the topic of adoption General Taheri says, “Now if you were American, it wouldn’t matter. People here marry for love, family name and ancestry never even come into the equation.”, and, “When you adopt, you don’t know whose blood you’re bringing into your house.” (198) Though, Amir still decides to follow American culture and adopt Sohrab. He learns to intertwine the good morals from both American and Afghan culture to be a better person and a better husband for his wife.
Finally, Amir understands the concept of gender through Baba and General Taheri. At a very young age, he experiences gender discrimination because his passion is continuously looked down upon on by Baba, “Real men didn’t read poetry – and God forbid they should ever write it! Real men – real boys – played soccer.” (21) Throughout the novel, Baba influences Amir to be a “real man” however, this is extremely sexist because men should be allowed to become whoever they want to be. Consequently, Amir starts to feel shameful because he cannot win his father’s approval to become a writer. Moreover, Baba continues to attack Amir, ‘A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.’ (24) It is crystal clear that Baba is narrow-minded and has a specific idea about a man. He fails to understand that men do not have to be or act a certain way to be a man. This idea influences Amir at a young age because he looks up to Baba and therefore, he believes his father’s words. Furthermore, Amir experiences differences between genders in his adulthood when he sees how General Taheri has a narrow mind about women. His expectations are that a “proper” Afghan woman is to be quiet and he limits the freedom of women because he believes that they should follow a number of rules. One of the conditions he places before marrying his wife is that she would never sing in public. This is extremely upsetting considering the fact that she was a famous singer in Afghanistan. Moreover, The General controls his wife even in her elder ages, “Soraya told me that her mother had wanted to sing at our wedding, only one song, but the general gave her one of his looks and the matter was buried.” (176) This reveals that Taheri is sexist as he limits his wife’s freedoms. This is morally wrong but because she was born a girl, she suffers to live under the power of a man. This continuously establishes that Taheri is simply sexist because he puts women below him and makes them feel unworthy of being equal to men. However, General Taheri teaches Amir that gender is just another social classification. Amir proves this by calling his wife, Soraya when he is in Afghanistan and confesses to his mistakes of betraying Hassan. Furthermore, he asks for her input and permission to adopt Sohrab because he respects her opinions. Amir begins to think on his own and thinks “past” what people have previously told him. He starts to develop from his negative experiences and grows into an individual who believes in equal morals between men and women. Consequently, he pursues his passion by becoming a writer and accepts his wife to be equal to him.
In the novel The Kite Runner, Amir’s experiences consistently are based on an invisible separation due to social classifications created by mankind. Humans remain to find ways to split themselves into categories such as ethnicity, culture and gender. The issues that surround him teach Amir to respect an individual for more than their social classification. When Amir goes back to Afghanistan he sees the destroyed conditions of how people are living due to the Taliban. This overall shapes Amir into a better individual because he eliminates the concept of the separation and accepts others for who they are. Amir decides to follow American culture and learns to intertwine the good morals from both American and Afghan culture to be a better person. He calls his wife, Soraya to ask for her input and permission to adopt Sohrab. Amir begins to think on his own and thinks “past” what people have previously told him and starts to develop from his negative experiences. This demonstrates that he comprehends that social classification should not come between individuals. Finally, he grows into an individual who believes in equal morals, this is extremely vital because he rises to be more humane.