The Power of the Written Word
The Kite Runner is a powerful story of love and trust, but also includes elements of deceit and human wickedness at its worst. The full beauty of the story lies in the sundry emotions and subtle nuances provided by the author in the book version, and much of the deeper feelings and emotions of the book are either touched on much too briefly or missed entirely in the film version of the story.
Within the very first chapter of the book, Hassan is referred to as “Hassan the harelipped kite runner”. (pg. 8) The fact that Hassan is a harelip, and that the author deems it necessary to mention this physical defect lends a particular importance to this fact as the story unfolds. Evidently this physical flaw gave Amir a reason to believe he was somehow superior to Hassan, consequently causing him to behave in an unpleasant manner toward him. The film does not refer to this physical defect at all, and as a result, no reference is made to Hassan’s special 11th birthday, the facial surgery, or its final results on Hassan’s physical features. (pg.54) Again in chapter two, Hassan’s own mother, Sanaubar, had taken one look at her son’s cleft lip and mocked him. She referred to him as an “idiot child”. (pg. 16) Amir later refers to Hassan as “the face of Afghanistan,” and that it was a face “perpetually lit by a harelipped smile”. (pg. 31) The importance of this is played out when Amir takes opportunities to ridicule Hassan about his ignorance, possibly because of their disparity in classes, or because Hassan was a harelip, and therefore even more worthy of ridicule. The passage in chapter four where Amir intentionally misleads Hassan about the meaning of the word imbecile is a good example of this. When confronted by Assef and his friends (pg. 48), Amir was afraid, and in that moment of fear he instantly became conscious of the idea that he did not consider Hassan his friend, but only his servant. Amir was ashamed of these feelings which doubtless had much to do with the differences in class, but at the same time could have been discomfiture over Hassan’s appearance. He admitted to himself that he only played with Hassan when there was no one else in which to play, thereby also acknowledging he had feelings of superiority, feeling as if he was too good for Hassan as an equal. The end of chapter five refers to the various birthday gifts Baba had presented to Hassan over the years, highlighting the best ones. The author caps this with the birthday gift presented to Hassan when he was 11 years old. The gift was significant in the life of Hassan, because it surgically fixes the harelip. This episode is not mentioned in the film, therefore detracting from a very vital part of the story. Amir refers to Hassan as being “born with that stupid harelip”, therefore feeling that Hassan has earned Baba’s affection or compassion, something Amir feels he has never been able to do.
The book captures the emotional aloofness between Amir and...