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The Kite Runner

Interpretive Essay

Total: 100 Points

Major Assignment

Choose a topic for your essay (about 3-4 pages) on The Kite Runner. The following topics are suggestions-- you can write about whatever topic interests you. If you choose your own topic, get it approved by me first.
Your essay must include an introduction, thesis, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You must include at least one quote as supporting evidence in each body paragraph. The essay must be structured in MLA format: proper header, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman font. Use the following guide to help you write this essay.

  1. Betrayal:

The concept of betrayal -- or choosing not to betray someone -- has many implications for the lives of the character in The Kite Runner.  It also turns out to have many motivations.  Consider three characters in the novel, at least one of whom engages in betrayal and at least one of whom chooses not to engage in betrayal (there may be several such key actions for each character you choose).  Analyze the motivations for and the consequences of each character's decision to betray or not to betray.        

  1. Friendship:

The strong underlying force of this novel is the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Discuss the varying definitions of friendship as seen in the novel. Questions to consider: Why is Amir afraid to be Hassan's true friend? Why does Amir constantly test Hassan's loyalty? Why does he resent Hassan? After the kite running tournament, why does Amir no longer want to be Hassan's friend?

     3. Fathers:

Compare and contrast the relationships of Soraya and Amir and their fathers. How have their upbringings contributed to these relationships?

     4. Circles and Coincidences:

Amir’s confrontation with Assef in Wazir Akar Khan marks an important turning point in the novel. Why does the author have Amir, Assef, and Sohrab all come together in this way? Why is it important in Amir’s journey toward forgiveness and acceptance?

     5. Violence:

In great literature, no scene of violence exists for its own sake. In a well-organized essay, explain how a violent scene in The Kite Runner contributes to the meaning of the complete work.

     6. Unhappy Families:

Leo Tolstoy once wrote, “All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is

unhappy in its own way.” Write an essay in which you explain the source of the unhappiness in one of the families in The Kite Runner, and the uniqueness of its misery.

      7. Mistakes:

In many works of literature, authors include characters who make mistakes. Sometimes

these characters learn a lesson from their mistakes, and other times they do not. Decide what Amir’s mistake is, analyze how he reacts to his mistake, and why he reacts this way.
8.  Your Topic: ____________________________________________________________________

Restate your essay topic in your own words. What will you focus on?

My topic: ____________________________________________________________________________


Brainstorm: Right now, how would you answer this question? Make a concept map in the space below, exploring your topic, including details from the story, characters, specific scenes, quotes, that will help you write an interesting and thoughtful essay.

Thesis = Subject + Claim (A strong thesis makes deep argument that the rest of the essay will try to prove with evidence from the text. It falls at the END of your introduction.)
Traits of a Good Thesis:

  • It should propose an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. A strong thesis takes a stand and justifies the discussion you will present.

  • It is specific and focused. It avoids vague language.

  • It clearly asserts your own conclusion based on evidence.

  • It provides the reader with a map to guide him/her through your work.

  • It should not be in the first (forms of “I”) or second (forms of “you”) person.

  • It should pass the “So what?” or “Who cares?” test.

Sample Thesis:

Topic: What role does redemption play in the story?
Thesis: Amir’s redemption of his betrayal of Hassan by protecting Sohrab pushes him to self-reflect, take responsibility of his past, and build confidence in himself.

Now, write your thesis statement in a cohesive sentence below (no more than 2 sentences!):


Now think of three ideas that support your thesis.


Create three complete topic sentences from your ideas above. Make sure that your topic sentences are analytical in nature and support your thesis.

Thesis: Amir’s attempt to redeem his betrayal of Hassan by protecting Sohrab pushes him to self-reflect, to take responsibility of his past, and to find confidence in himself.
Topic #1: Amir’s return to Afghanistan, an opportunity at redemption, prompts him reflect on the past and his growth since he left his home country.
Topic #2: Amir makes a choice to help Hassan’s son even though the circumstances are dangerous and life-threatening, making amends for not only his own mistakes but his father’s mistake.
Topic #3: Despite his initial unwillingness to bring Sohrab back from Afghanistan, Amir lives up to the challenge and ultimately finds confidence in himself.





Write down ideas for each paragraph of your essay in the chart below. You may use a separate sheet of binder paper if you need more space.


Hook (optional):

Title & Author:

Background of Novel: (characters, setting, important concepts that relate to your thesis)


Body Paragraph 1

Topic Sentence:

Quote: (include pg# in parentheses)

Analysis / Commentary:

Transition Sentence:

Body Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence:

Quote: (include pg# in parentheses)

Analysis / Commentary:

Transition Sentence:

Body Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence:

Quote: (include pg# in parentheses)

Analysis / Commentary:

Restate Thesis:

Key Ideas to Re-emphasize:

Connection to Humanity / Current Events / Real World or Lessons Learned:

Words / Frames to Use (when you actually write the essay):

Elaboration / Description:

describe, explain, belongs, includes, displays, illustrates, consists of, refers to, characterized by, defined by, reflects, exhibits, in essence, understood as


Next, later, then, finally, earlier, previously, eventually, initially, meanwhile, during, subsequently, preceding, following, concluding

Cause & Effect:

If…then, for this reason, as a result, therefore, since_________, then ___________, due to, thus, consequently, hence, which in turn, leads to, accordingly, subsequently

Compare / Contrast:

However, yet, unlike, both, in contrast, have in common, on the other hand, compared to, as opposed to, distinction between, just as, by comparison

TOPIC: What role does redemption play in the story?
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a story about an Afghan man named Amir who is struggling to overcome an incident that occurred in childhood. In the story, Amir betrays his loyal friend, Hassan, when he remains silent after witnessing the local bully named Assef rape Hassan. Despite feeling extremely guilty, Amir keeps this secret to himself for over two decades. When he is asked by a family friend, Rahim Khan, to go back to Afghanistan, he gets a chance to redeem his past sins. At this point in the story, Hassan has been killed by the Taliban, and his son, Sohrab, has been taken to an orphanage. Later, the Taliban takes Sohrab captive and abuses him. Amir fights and then takes custody of Sohrab, bringing him to the United States. Hosseini’s novel is a story about redemption, which is the act of making something better or more acceptable. Amir’s attempt to redeem his betrayal of Hassan by protecting Sohrab pushes him to self-reflect, take responsibility of his past, and build confidence in himself.

  1. Underline the thesis.

  2. Notice that the introduction mentions only the necessary plot points and characters that will help the reader comprehend the thesis

  3. Circle the key concept that is defined in order for the reader to understand the thesis.


When Amir is asked to go back to his homeland as an adult, he is forced to re-examine his actions as a child as well as his family dynamics. This self-reflection is the beginning of his growth. In Pakistan, Rahim Khan gives Amir a set of letters that Hassan had written to Amir when he was alive. As a result, Amir is reluctantly brought back to his childhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. After Rahim Khan tells him that Hassan is dead, Amir begins to think “of that day in 1974, in the hospital room, just after Hassan’s harelip surgery. Baba, Rahim Khan, Ali, and [he] had huddled around Hassan’s bed, watched him examine his new lip in a handheld mirror. Now everyone in that room was either dead or dying” (219). For almost two decades, Amir has tried to push the past from his mind, almost rejecting it entirely because he feels so much guilt for betraying Hassan as a child. His new life in the United States has also allowed him to escape his sins. However, Rahim Khan’s request for Amir to return forces him to think back to his childhood and explore the complicated family dynamics of which he is a part. Later, Rahim Khan reveals that Hassan is Amir’s half-brother. Amir is angry; however, he reflects: “And what Rahim Khan revealed to me changed things. Made me see how my entire life, long before the winter of 1975, dating back to when that singing Hazara woman was still nursing me, had been a cycle of lies, betrayals, and secrets” (226). Amir begins to realize that it isn’t only his own actions that have affected the outcome of events; his father’s actions have also contributed to this “cycle.” Despite feeling angry and confused, at least Amir is finally facing the truth, which is an important first step. It is only through self-reflection that Amir is able to later accept himself and take responsibility for what he has done.

  1. Underline the topic sentence.

  2. Circle the background information given that helps sets up the evidence.

  3. Put stars next to the evidence.

  4. Put boxes around the transition words.

  5. Put brackets around the commentary / analysis.

  6. Underline the transition sentence that hints at what the next paragraph is about.


Redemption isn’t always possible, but one might find that trying to better a situation is worth the effort. There are some mistakes that simply can’t be undone. However, the act of redemption – making something better – is important even if the result isn’t achieved. In Hosseini’s story, Amir’s attempt to redeem his sins prompts him to look at himself in the mirror, accept what he’s done, and grow into a more confident human being. Amir’s growth is demonstrated when he finally sheds culture and class, which made up his reputation as a boy, by telling his wife about his secret betrayal and later admitting publicly that his father slept with the servant’s wife. It is true that he can’t erase the rape that occurred or bring Hassan back from the dead, but Amir can finally live with these facts now that he is actively trying to create a better situation for Hassan’s son. It is difficult for most people to admit to wrongdoing due to social, cultural, and even political expectations. One’s ego and reputation often cloud one’s ability to do the right thing, especially at a young age. However, lies and betrayal usually surface at some point. While facing truth can temporarily create inner chaos, the long term benefits of honesty is ultimately rewarding.

  1. Underline the sentence that restates the thesis.

  2. Notice that the writer summarizes the most important details of the story that relate to the thesis.

  3. How does the conclusion try to connect to the reader?


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