Khaled Hosseini’s way of retelling the novel, ‘The Kite Runner’ can be seen as interesting, coming from a first person unreliable narrator being Amir. The story is told from the point of view of Amir, who is looking back on his life, recounting his memories to as much accuracy as possible. This structural way of story telling immediate creates suspicion amongst the reader. We become curious in the novel why Amir retold in-particular moments which at the time didn’t seem significant. This creates tension for the reader who wants to know what relevance these moments have to later moments in Amir’s life. Chronologically, we would not get the view point of a much wiser and older Amir. For this reason, the catastrophe being Hassan’s rape wouldn’t look as tragic as it would have been.
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The Kite Runner novel can be told in many different chronological ways. The first and most obvious way Hosseini could have written the novel was through chronologically. This would have made Amir seem more like a first person unreliable narrator for the way his judgement would be more clouded by the inexperience his short life has had. Amir is constantly reminding the audience that he feels guilty for the death of his mother of whom died giving birth to Amir: another reason he could be seen as unreliable from the way some of his decisions are intentionally influenced by factors that were not his fault (which he thinks were). He believes his corrupted relationship with his Dad, Baba, had been caused due to him ‘killing [his] mother’ at birth. From this, one of Amir’s most important decisions being whether to help Hassan when he’s getting raped is being weighed up by Amir wanting the kite to replenish his relationship with his father. The audience are left feeling morally right hoping Amir will save his best friend from this horrid sexual harassment. The way Hosseini lets Amir re-tell the story provides slightly more reliability, seeing he has learnt from his mistakes by rescuing Sohrab. However, a full chronological account of The Kite Runner would give us a better glimpse into the life of a twelve year old and not of a wiser and more experienced adult re-telling the story. The emotions a twelve year old would have felt at the moment of the rape would have been more extreme than the emotions of an adult looking back on his life when he was twelve.
The events that lead up to Hassan’s rape could have been recounted to miss/leave out the rape scene till the very end of the novel. This structure would have the ‘old Amir’ at the start of the novel saving Sohrab and then back to ‘young Amir’ where the rape scene would have been located in the last chapter of the novel. This would have produced a greater climax because the rape scene is now the ultimate scene rather than Amir saving Sohrab. It also keeps the reader guessing why he risked his life to save Sohrab. From this, the reader will realise the twist at the end of the novel from the rape scene (Amir’s guilt made him want to do right and save Sohrab). It also creates tension when it’s Young Amir as it will be more confusing the fact that we don’t know why he’s so unreliable towards the end. It could be said that the climax is always at the end of a novel to make it finish on a high. This structure follows the same principles, choosing the rape scene as the ultimate climax. This raises questions whether the structure Hosseini chose made the climax come too early. He gives the reader false hope for an ultimate climax greater than the rape scene at the end which never happens. This is a sign of an unreliable narrator from the way the reader cannot trust him: the reader would expect the greatest climax to be at the end. For this reason, I agree where Hosseini placed the rape scene because it strengthens Amir as a first person unreliable narrator.
The novel could have been told through having the rape scene first and then the rest of the story following in chronological order. This would have been a more effective approach to gaining the reader’s attention with something this shocking happening first making the reader left wanting to know why Assef did it, why Amir didn’t stop Assef doing it and how Hassan got into that situation to begin with. It is important for Hosseini to grasp the reader’s attention, especially at the start of the story. The starts of novels are most critically reviewed by readers: a bad start to the story can potentially stop the reader from going further into the book. For this reason, placing the rape scene at the start will immediately provide the fuel to keep the reader wanting to read on. This complete surprise start to the novel will dramatise the rape scene, causing the reader to constantly reflect back to it to try and answer much needed missing questions further on through the novel.
As well as that, placing the rape scene at the start will broaden the reader’s suspicions. The reader will know that Amir left his friend in a time he needed him most. Therefore, they will be analysing Amir, Hassan and Assef’s actions extra more carefully to see events in the novel that could relate or have lead to what happened at the rape scene. As well as amplifying the tragedy of the rape scene, this would have exaggerated every encounter between Amir, Hassan and Assef creating tension amongst reading it.
A way of effectively dramatising the rape scene would have been to show the close friendship of Amir and Hassan before the rape scene. Their friendship is a clear representation of two best friends even if there are glimpses of Amir’s dominance over Hassan from the fact Hassan’s dad is Baba’s servant. However, Amir and Hassan are very close to each other sharing the hobby of reading and going often down to the cinema to watch the films they both love. This closeness between the two will juxtapose against the rape scene where Amir’s actions completely contrast his friendship before hand. This will shock the readers from the fact the previous chapter had been about Amir and Hassan’s good friendship. A structure like this creates a catastrophe out of nowhere: everything was fine before the rape scene. However, choosing his father’s acceptance over Hassan’s friendship is the start of what could be a terrible downfall. Yet, Amir wants to make right from wrong by saving Sohrab.
The last way Hosseini could have dramatised the rape scene was through having chapter four and the history of Baba at the beginning and then chronologically from then on. Although this will lose any sense of uncertainty, it will make the reader more aware of the type of life Amir should follow up. This chapter is self-referential narrative with many stories being told such as the story from Hassan, ‘Rostiom and Sohrab’, which Hassan uses later on in his life to name his son, Sohrab. The story is of a tragedy where the father kills his son in battle relating very much to the turbulent relationship between Amir and Baba. The relationships between two males (Amir and Hassan, Amir and Baba, Amir and Rahim Khan and Baba and Rahim Khan) are extremely important in this novel contributing to the reason Amir chose: to leave Hassan at the rape scene. Hosseini needs to signify the importance of these relationships so that when the rapes scene does come, Amir is will seem bewildered what to do.
Ultimately, I believe Hosseini in telling the story non-chronologically up to Hassan’s rape scene does dramatic this crucial moment in the novel. It provides freedom for Hosseini to tell the story in a way to create as much tension as the reader reads closer to the rape scene. Finishing chapters with ‘There is a way to be good again’ and ‘Looking back on it now’ tells the reader that something is going to happen. It could be argued that telling the story chronologically could have caused the build up of tension to disappear. On the other hand, events such as the kite tournament must be told before the rape scene. Hosseini needs to hint to the reader how significant this tournament is in Amir attempting to heal his relationship with Baba so Baba can finally feel proud about Amir. It’s not about Hassan, not about Rahim Khan: only Baba. This is what caused Amir to regret what he did when Hassan was getting raped. He prioritises the wrong people first in the moments they needed him most.