Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, The Kite Runner, is an eye-opening look into
Afghani and Islamic culture through the painful memories of an American immigrant, Amir.
Hosseini’s novel is rich with beautiful imagery and settings. The book also masterfully tells of
disturbing events and very real characters. Perhaps Hosseini’s greatest achievement is his vast
and quite effective use of symbolism in The Kite Runner. One such recurring symbol is the
pomegranate. The pomegranate’s rich symbolic history from cultures around the world provides
many different interpretations as to the various ideas the pomegranate represents. The Kite
Runner can be viewed as an analogy for the well-known story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion
from the Garden of Eden by interpreting the pomegranate as the forbidden fruit.
Many people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from paradise in the
Book of Genesis in the Old Testament or from the Hebrew Torah. What may be less familiar to
people is that a similar story is also found in the Koran. The Koran states, “‘O Adam! Dwell thou
and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye plentifully there from whatever ye list; but to this tree
come not nigh, lest ye become of the transgressors.’ But Satan made them slip from it, and
caused their banishment from the place in which they were” (Rodwell 6). The Koran does not
explicitly state the type of tree that was forbidden, just as the Book of Genesis only tells of an
unnamed forbidden fruit. This forbidden fruit is commonly believed to have been an apple.
Many scholars now believe, though, that the forbidden fruit of scripture was actually a
The transformation in common culture of pomegranate to apple may have had many
causes. Etymologically speaking, the apple’s original Latin name was Pyrus malus, meaning evil
(Rieger 3). Such a similarity may have been far too irresistible for John Milton. In his retelling of
Adam and Eve;s story in the widely read epic poem Paradise Lost, he states that the forbidden
fruit was indeed an apple. Other early European literature also states that the forbidden fruit was
an apple. The familiarity that Europeans have with the apple and the foreignness of the
pomegranate may have also contributed to the misconception. The fruit simply could not have
been an apple because “wild [apple trees] are not believed to have grown [in Mesopotamia] in
biblical times since it is a tree native to the Northern hemisphere” (Freeman). The pomegranate
“is often credited as being the forbidden fruit” by biblical historians (Kaya and Ellis 2). The
pomegranate is one of the oldest discovered plants in Mesopotamia and was grown quite readily.
This fruit is very similar in appearance to the apple, and its name comes from the Latin meaning
“apple having many seeds” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language). These
similarities make the pomegranate the best interpretation as the forbidden fruit.