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Hosseini: The Kite Runner

3. Chapter 2: Amir and Hassan

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the second chapter of the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) the relationship between Amir and Hassan, including Hassan’s subservience to Amir (“Hassan never denied me anything”, p.4); (ii) the importance of the mirror as a symbol for self-awareness and self-reflection; (iii) Baba’s story of how he met King Nadir Shah, and his desire to occupy a certain position in Afghan society; (iv) the contrast between fatherhood and motherhood; (v) the novel’s sexual violence, and the extent to which the sexual violence experienced by individual characters echoes the two invasions of Afghanistan; (vi) the Pashtun fondness of stories – and Amir’s obsession with books more generally (“Why don’t you go read one of those books of yours?”, p. 5); (vii) the extent to which the relationship between Amir and Hassan mirrors the relationship between the Pashtuns and Hazara in general (“I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras”, pp. 8-9); and (viii) the contrast between how Amir and Hassan were born and raised (“Hassan and I fed from the same breasts”, p. 10) and their different destinies.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Khalid Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. We begin with a broad introduction to the historical, political and literary context of the novel, before going through the whole novel chapter-by-chapter, providing close reading and detailed analysis, with commentary on character, plot, themes, motifs, language, symbolism and more.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2021, January 13). Hosseini: The Kite Runner - Chapter 2: Amir and Hassan [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Hosseini: The Kite Runner – Chapter 2: Amir and Hassan." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 13 Jan 2021,