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Why Doesn’t ‘The Kite Runner’ End at Chapter 22?


Here is an essay I have done on why the 'The Kite Runner' doesn't end at chapter 22. It contains ideas such as the important events in chapter 22, how Sohrab's character hasn't been explored and what chapter 23 onwards in the novel contains. Hope you enjoy the read and it proves helpful to you too!
Remember to never copy any material on the internet such as this when writing your own essay.
Chapter 22 has much significance to the novel from the way it is the climax of the whole novel. It is where the hero being Amir confronts the villain being Assef. It is the moment where Amir can be ‘good again’. It is clear that Hosseini didn’t end at chapter 22 because there was more information that the reader needed to be aware about. Sohrab only appears at the end of chapter 22. From this, chapter 23 onwards help to bring Sohrab into the story giving him a personality. Even so, it could be argued that The Kite Runner could have ended at chapter 22. Although, there is an argument for the way Hosseini makes The Kite Runner finish at chapter 25.

            Chapter 22 contains important events which makes this chapter the climax of the novel. This is a reason why the novel should end on chapter 22: end at the climax. It uses the form rites of passage making it more like a quest/adventure than a first-person unreliable. There is much repetition in the chapter as history is repeating itself: the chapter reruns events that have happened previously in the novel. However, the outcomes of these events are different which makes it clear that Amir has learned from his mistakes. Chapter 22 includes many themes too such as juxtaposition between peace and conflict where Assef (conflict) wears John Lennon glasses which are a symbol of peace. Having a sociopath wear these glasses makes it clear that there is severe corruption in Afghanistan now with the Taliban. Repetition is used with the slingshot. This reflects what happened in chapter 4 where Hassan threatens Assef with his slingshot. This creates a similarity between Hassan as a child and Sohrab. Sohrab was also described with a look of ‘a slaughtered sheep’s eyes’. This relates to the look Amir gave Hassan while he was getting raped of a ‘lamb’. In both cases, Amir has described Hassan and Sohrab with the same metaphor showing he sees similarities between Hassan and Sohrab. As well as that, it enables Amir to have a second chance. He is in roughly the same situation: someone he cares about is getting sexually abused by Assef. He now has to decide whether to fight and stick up for them or not. This is where the irony of chapter 22 comes in because strictly speaking, Amir never saved Sohrab. Amir was fighting a losing battle against Assef and was saved by Sohrab who hit Assef in the eye with a brass ball and slingshot. Due to this, the chapter very much reflects Amir’s previous life as a child. He can be considered complete from saving Sohrab even if he needed Sohrab’s help. Finishing the novel here would have made for a more fairytale ending. Amir has gone back to Afghanistan to make right again. Therefore, the reader will assume that Amir, Soraya and Sohrab live happily ever after in America. Yet, this is the not the case. Sohrab attempts to commit suicide which brings reality back down onto this happy ending.

Chapter 22 can be portrayed as a generally tense chapter due to the disguise Amir attempts to use. We feel for Amir’s safety when the Taliban ask him to take his beard off. We know from the previous chapters that the Taliban don’t take kindly to people that disobey the law (the women that was stoned to death in public at the football game for committing adultery). Therefore, we immediately become concerned for Amir what the Taliban might do to him for lying about his identity. This is where Hosseini creates a double negative. First the Taliban find out about Amir’s real identity. Secondly, we then find out the Taliban member Amir is talking to is Assef. As well as that, Amir creates subtle hints throughout the chapter to suggest there will be future conflict. When Amir eats the grape in the Taliban ruled building, he states it will be ‘the last whole thing’ he would eat for a long time suggesting he is going to get injured. The climax of The Kite Runner is a tense and dramatic moment of the story which I believe needs a cooling off period after to let the characters in the novel and the reader to come back to reality. However, ending The Kite Runner at chapter 22 would prove to be a more effective way in dramatising the climax of the novel. Chapter 22 will be fresh in the reader’s mind while also letting The Kite Runner finish on a high. Excluding that, Hosseini would have to alter the whole novel if he wished to finish the novel at the end of chapter 22. The events that took place in The Kite Runner are told by Amir who is looking back onto his past. If the ending of The Kite Runner was in fact at chapter 22, then Amir’s story would meet present time at chapter 22 and not 25.

Chapter 23 and onwards contains key elements which fully complete the novel and its ending. We find that most the characters are left unfinished at the end of chapter 22. This makes it clear that there needs to be a more definitive ending to The Kite Runner which will make the characters seem more finished. Although mentioned already, redemption is not fully complete at the end of chapter 22 between Amir and Hassan. Amir needed the help of Sohrab to save him. Redemption is only fully complete when Amir tells Sohrab how great his dad was. That is what Hassan would have wanted. He would have wanted his son to know the best bits about his father and how close Amir and Hassan actually once were. This will help encourage Sohrab to like Amir and Soraya.

Chapter 23 and onwards help to build up a character of Sohrab. We find that Sohrab tries to commit suicide: chapter 22 does not finish ‘happily ever after’. There is a lot more to the character of Sohrab that meets the eye in chapter 22. It also doesn’t make sense from the plot to end the novel at chapter 22. The majority of the second part of the novel involves saving Sohrab. Amir risked his life to save him. Once he is saved, the novel finishes: it doesn’t make sense to want something and then when you have it, stop and not go into any detail about what you have (being Sohrab). The ending can be seen as an epilogue for Sohrab. He is finding it difficult to adapt to American life while also finding it difficult to accept being in Amir and Soraya’s family. The moment where Amir’s mistakes have been fully redeemed is right at the end when Amir shows Sohrab a few of Hassan’s favourite kite tricks. This helps Sohrab appreciate Hassan for the type of man and father he was. At the very end, Hosseini uses a leitmotif to show how much Amir meant to Hassan is the same as if not more than what Sohrab means to Amir, ‘for you, a thousand times over!”

Ultimately, I feel that the novel cannot end at chapter 22 because Hosseini wanted to primarily develop the character of Sohrab while scattering leitmotifs around to show similarities between Amir and Hassan as children and Amir and Sohrab at the end. At the end when Amir is a having a kite fight, the roles are reversed with Amir being the kite runner, just like Hassan was. This shows Amir’s loyalty to Sohrab like it did for Hassan to Amir when they were young. The development for the character of Sohrab is key to the novel. He is not as simple as the reader and even Amir wished to think. The development of Sohrab’s character also makes it possible for Amir to have full redemption. Saving Sohrab was one part of the redemption. The second part was to tell Sohrab about how great his father was and to let him become part of their family which at the end Amir accomplishes. The novel finishes with Amir having a guilt-free conscience with a strong future in writing books and Sohrab finally safe and happy just like Hassan would have wanted.

About Will Green

A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

6 comments so far:

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  4. fantastic essay. really helped me

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