Khaled Hosseni’s The Kite Runner is a novel about a young Afghan boy named Amir and his friend Hassan and the trials and tribulations they go through in their lives. Although the story was mostly about Amir and his life before he left Afghanistan and how that affected him after he arrived in California, no one can deny that the conflict between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns was a big part of the story.
The Hazaras and Pashtuns are two different races and ethnic groups in Afghanistan and the racial hostility between both groups have caused a lot of characters in this book pain. In this essay I would like to focus on how the Hazaras and the Pashtuns ethnic and racial discrimination affected the story and its characters.
One way that the conflict between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns affects the story is how Hassan was treated. Hassan was a Hazara and they are the minority in Afghanistan, only about 12-18% of the population, while Pashtuns make up more that 40% of the population. Even though Hassan was also Baba’s son, which is Amirs father, he doesn’t get acknowledged as one of them.
At first you might see the relationship between Amir and Hassan sweet and innocent, but once you read more into the book you see that Amir is inconsistent with how he treats his so called friend. Often times you see Amir succumb to his jealousy over Hassan because of his strength and so he lords his social status over him, treating him like a lesser human being just because he is Hazara.
Another way the conflict between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns affect the story is Assef’s entire character. Since the beginning we have seen that Assef is a Hazara-terrorizing Pashtun who believes in his own superiority and ideals over anyone else’s, an example would be how he sexually assaulted and bullied Hassan. He is the symbol of evil in this novel and we are shown that time and time again when he rapes Sohrab, Hassan’s son and humiliates him by making him dress up in womens clothes and putting makeup on him.
Even as a kid Assef’s hate for Hazaras far surpassed his peers, saying in one chapter that “We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat Nose here (referring to Hassan). His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood.” As if a child rapist and a bully wasn’t enough, but the hate for Hazaras pushes Assef into the Taliban, which after he joined he had much more power to do the things he idolized Hitler for doing.
In another chapter toward the end of the book we see Assef describing that Afghanistan is like a mansion littered with garbage and how he has put it upon himself to take out the garbage. The garbage he is referring to is the Hazaras which Amir confronts him about, asking if that is what he was doing in Mazar when he was killing Hazaras. Assef answers this question with chilling but not surprising words, saying that “In the west, they have an expression for that. They call it ethnic cleansing.” As you can see here, the hate the Pashtuns have for the Hazaras not only ruined Hassan’s life, but also thousands of other Hazaras who will be targeted by Assef and the Taliban.
The conflict between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns didn’t just ruin the life of Hassan, but also ruined his ability to get a proper education. Because Pashtuns are the ruling class in Kabul, they are allowed opportunities to get a formal education unlike the Hazaras who are not even allowed in schools. Hassan did not even know how to read or write while living with Amir and Baba and being a servant.
While Pashtun children his age were learning the basic skills of math and english, Hazara kids spent their days cleaning up after Pashtuns. They did menial tasks like handwashing dirty clothes, watering the lawn and sweeping floors. Not only were Hazaras not given a formal education, but the schools that the Pashtun kids such as Amir and Assef went to nitpicked what history to learn, They also erased any mention of the Hazaras, and we only get to hear about the history of the Hazaras when Amir goes through his mothers books. He learns of the horrible acts that the Pashtuns committed against the Hazaras all in the name of God.
When this book was brought to a teacher of the school however, the teacher laughs and calls the Hazaras “martyrs” while giving off a hateful vibe. The innate bias that the teacher has against the Hazaras shows you that the Pashtuns hostility and hate towards the Hazaras are harmfully molding the minds of these young kids into treating Hazaras as nothing more than the dirt on your shoes.
In conclusion, The conflict between the Hazaras and the Pashtuns affected this story more than I thought it did. Although we see some fleeting moments of peace in The Kite Runner like Amir reading to Hassan and Hassan defending Amir against Assef not only once but twice, the majority of this book was about how the divide of the two ethnic group shaped each character and how Hassan and Amir’s friendship developed over time.
- Web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.hclib.org. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2020].
- Hosseini, K., n.d. Kite Runner.
- prezi.com. 2020. Pashtuns And Hazaras In Afghanistan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2020].