Monday, May 08, 2006


Life Goes On...

Hosseini is very cognizant of the fact that the success of his novel relies on the ending. He seems self-conscious about this when he asserts, "In America, you don’t reveal the ending of the movie, and if you do, you will be scorned and made to apologize profusely for having committed the sin of Spoiling the End" (Hosseini 357). He knows what readers are looking for and provides this in a very real way using suspense and creating twists throughout the novel. In a novel that contains such horrific events, the ending provides the reader closure as Sohrab and Amir fly kites in the park. The question of whether or not this is a happy ending can be debated in this novel just as in every other novel throughout the semester. In this case, the ending is not necessarily happy, but given the events that take place prior to the novel’s ending, it is the most hopeful that Hosseini can realistically present to readers. It is pragmatic and makes implications about the characters’ futures.

The ending of The Kite Runner clearly indicates Sohrab’s depression upon being displaced. He wants nothing more than to go back to the life that he is familiar with in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, even if he was in Afghanistan, the life he once knew does not exist anymore. Amir says, "our old life is gone, Sohrab, and everyone in it is either dead or dying" (Hosseini 354-5). Perhaps this novel plays on human emotions a bit and might be considered cheesy, but no one can read that line and not feel the power of those words. Even though this is fiction, it is based on real events, the real situation in Afghanistan. If Hosseini uses these characters to make the Western world see the reality of situations abroad and care more deeply about what our country is doing to help these people, more power to him. Sohrab’s identity confusion, lamentations of his old way of life, and heart-wrenching actions to destroy himself because he is "tired of everything," is telling the story of all Afghani people and all those countries that have been ravaged by power-hungry groups like the Taliban.

Knowing that this is how Sohrab feels and what he has been through makes the smile at the end so important. Amir says, "it didn’t make everything alright. It didn’t make anything alright (Hosseini 371)." He still has a long way to go on his emotional journey to move forward and live the rest of his life to the fullest, but it is hopeful. Amir sees this as a step towards the larger goal of making Sohrab feel like a normal child. He says, "when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting" (Hosseini 371). He sees a chance for Sohrab to open up to him and Soraya, establish a connection with them, and foster a relationship that is life-giving. This smile represents a window of opportunity for Amir to save his nephew and make up for the past wrongdoings he committed against his half brother, Hassan.

This novel’s ending is powerful because it is all about being able to overcome adversity. It shows that it is often not easy to do this, but it can be achieved over time. Sohrab will never live the life he formerly knew, but he can create a new, meaningful one for himself through letting go of his past and focusing on his future with Amir and Soraya. These two can remind him of his past, his father and old neighborhood, and can also provide a better tomorrow for him that is free of the hardships of his former life.

I too agree that while this ending was not extremely happy, it was as happy as it could realistically be. There is no easy way to wrap up a situation where a real war is going on and people are really dying every day. Removing Sohrab from that situation and bringing him to America was the most we as readers could have hoped for. Even though Sohrab has reservations about leaving his home for America, we are confident that he will have an easier time adjusting here than he would surviving in Afghanistan. Though some elements of the ending can be seen as cheesy, Hossein did not exactly tie up all the loose ends and make us feel like everything was right in the world. He simply tried to redeem Amir's character and Sohrab's hope for a future.
Although I did my own post on the Kite Runner, I feel the need to do a little commenting since the book was so extraordinary. I like Moe's comment when he makes note of when Amir says "our old life is gone, Sohrab, and everyone in it is either dead or dying." Moe says that no one can read that line and not feel the power of those words. I completely agree because, people here in America can not even FATHOM most of our carefree lives being destroyed along with most of the people in it. I look around at my family and friends and couldn't even DREAM of life without them. In Afghanistan and other countries, that has become a part of their lives while in America, we live the good life, lollipop around, and worry about petty things. The majority of our problems can be fixed. There is no coming back from death and ongoing war. There is no doubt that Sohrab still has a long way to go despite the small smile that we saw etched into his face near the end. Grief is more than just the surface, it goes as deep as the soul and the heart, and in most cases, people only recover from it through time and a spiritual healing that is invisible to the naked eye. The Kite Runner is an example of how even after grave tragedies, life can still go on.
I think Moe introduces a very important point on the ending of the story, that it may not be the happiest, but it is realistic. If the novel had ended with Sohrab flying a kite with his Uncle while laughing it would not have had the same impact on the reader. It would have been unbelievable, the reader can not expect the characters of such a tradegic story to live happily ever after, but the glimmer of the possiblity of improvement on the current way of life is possible. I believe if the novel had ended happy the ending would have taken away from the important message of what is happening in Afghanistan.
Moe, I like that you highlighted Hosseini writing about the ending of his book. It is true that Americans do not want to know the ending, but this also addresses the question we have been discussing all semester: Where should a novel end? There are no beginnings and endings to life other than birth and death. Given this, whose birth and death does the writer use as a standard in the novel? Not every novel can end with, "Then he grew old and died." I believe that Hosseini ended his novel in the perfect spot. There is still hope at the end, and the characters are not in the worst situations that they have been in previously. The actual ending of The Kite Runner was one of the only points in the novel that did not make me cry. I also agree that the ending was "powerful." The entire book is powerful; I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I agree with you all on the "happy but realistic" categorization of the ending of Kite Runner. I feel that any person who has been touched by war will forever hold a piece of melancholy in their hearts. This was a theme throughout the novel, as Amir discusses his insomnia; and describes the sad, tired eyes of Hassan and the smile that never quite returned. This is passed on to Sohrab who most likely will lead a successful life tainted by the lingering melancholic wisdom that living through war instills in a person. We cant be sad that he's not laughing, we can only be happy that he survived.
I have to agree. I think it is really interesting how cognizant of the end that Hosseini is, and even makes a point to say "what I'm about to do is important". Its interesting though, that after all of that, he doesn't wrap the story up in a neat little bundle like the movies he had ruined had ended in. He leaves a lot of question marks as to the future of his characters, which, I feel is more interesting and thought provoking than a book that just ends and you can set down and walk away from.
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