American Military Academy British Literature 12-3 Prof. Minerva I. Mendez Analytical Essay #1 Kite Runner Essay Raymond Alexander Bravo Miranda #2 September 17, 2012 I chose to do my paper on the caste system. The caste system is an inherited social ranking of the classes and plays an important role throughout the Kite Runner. The book sates that there needs to be an order of the people to make sense of things worthwhile. The two boys try to defy that the caste system is nothing more than a state of mind.
The Afghan people feel alienated from their own history because of the caste system. Kite fighting is a perfect example of the caste system. One has the fighter who attacks other kites, and the runner who chases he fallen kites. Hassan who is a Shi’a while Amir is Pashtun and has many more opportunities available to him because of his social class. Although they are friends, Amir is hesitant to acknowledge this while in public. I believe that the caste system imposes many of its own seemingly unintentional rules among the people.
These systems even lead Amir to stand by while his servant was raped by local bullies. Even though there may not be any laws about certain issues, the caste system might impose and enforce them through hate and violence. The caste system forces people to be alienated from their own history. The novel depicts the story of Amir, an Afghan living in San Francisco who receives a call from his father’s friend living in Pakistan, a place which brings back bittersweet memoirs of childhood days spent in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Amir narrates his idyllic childhood in Kabul where his father is well-endowed with much financial success, power, and prestige. Amir and his father render housing for their servants or to the socially disadvantaged people within their jurisdiction. As opposed to the wealthy background that Amir has grown accustomed to, Ali together with his son are the servants of Amir and his father and who have long remained within the distinction of being underprivileged. The novel centers on the theme of ocial class, a key factor that separates the world of Amir from Hassan and tries to hinder their true friendship from blossoming. As what caste system suggests, those who are under the dominant and powerful party must adhere to rendering service to those in the upper class. True enough, in the novel, Hassan respects and admires upper-class Amir amid neighborhood bullies and intimidation which make them stick together through any hindrance. It is in their friendship that the concept of caste system is explicated.
A Caste System is a distinctive kind of social structure which divides people in accordance with inherited social status. According to Pruthi, “A caste system manifests itself as a vertical structure in which individual castes are hierarchically graded and kept permanently apart, and at the same time, are linked by well-defined expectations and obligations”. In the stirring and humane novel, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, the caste system is viewed intricately within the friendship of Amir and Hassan.
The novel depicts the story of these two characters who live within the boundaries of social status and who try to defy that the caste system is nothing more than a state of mind. The novel portrays the challenges seen through the bounds of the caste system and is felt by the main characters. In Hosseini’s moving elegy, Amir’s personal quest is a vivid picture of the entire Afghan culture completely drowned in massive violence and despair; and explicates how the Afghan society feels alienated from their own history.
Amir is a clear manifestation of how hard it is for Afghan expatriates to begin a new chapter in life and represents how the nation has become an enormous quagmire. Notably, the novel is about Amir’s journey to atone for something he did for his best friend coming from the lower class named Hassan while the two of them were competing in a local kite-fighting tournament. But it is being depicted that there is much more to the tournament than being a mere old winter tradition, it is a vivid manifestation of war against tyrant delineation in the society.
The title itself is suggestive of a symbolic state of innocence that can only be obtained through serving others. Brian Smith writes in his book, “Classifying the Universe,” “It is widely claimed that the classification in the society is the basis for all of what people call thought, reason, and logic”. Within the given context, it is then viewed that to be able to make sense of things worthwhile, there should be an order within the society and organizing its constituents by dividing them into classes or categories.
Smith continues to say, “In addition, categorization is an innate capacity and necessity of human beings in which the nature of the people’s mind is deeply examined”. More than a mere tradition, running a kite in Afghanistan is a showcase of social status and the race to gain dominance over the competitive field. As the game involves the servitude of those in lower class, in this case, Amir’s assistant is Hassan who held the spool and fed the line. At the start of the story, Hassan is the innocent protagonist, serving Amir through running Amir’s kite. In the story’s conclusion, it is Amir who runs the line for Hassan’s kite.
In whatever way the caste system is presented, it is shown that humans are bound to have kings and leaders or those they need to serve and follow. Given this situation, the novel suggests that creating social hierarchy is an inherent character of people and unknowingly and subconsciously, people are subject to a certain kind of social standing also known as caste system in various ways. The kite tournament is a race for social dominance and the kite itself is the much coveted prize in which it takes a mileage and a great deal of service and struggle to get a hold of it.
In this sense, Amir is of great advantage because he has his own assistant to fight for him while Hassan is left with no other choice but to obey the customary tradition of a caste system and servitude. As it is being defined that “the caste system is a closed system of social stratification and it is also a system of social inequality in which the status of the people is permanently determined at birth based from their parents’ ascribed characteristics”, it is evident the novel validate the fact that social dominance is present in a society within the grounds of a caste system.
Amir, coming from the United States and endowed with wealth and power, clearly manifests the cruel fact that what you have and what you possess define your position in the society. The novel’s utilization of The United States as Amir’s place where he grew as a man presented with so much opportunities explicates the conception that Amir is being cemented on a higher position in the society. This is because the United States is a first world country and is an effective tool to be used if one is trying to xpound more on the idea of social class and social structure. According to Hosseini, “when a kite runner had his hands on a kite, no one could take it from him. That wasn’t a rule. That was a custom”. This quotation states that though a caste system is never considered to be a rule, it is an accepted tradition or a custom in which the most coveted prize is the honor and dominance. Hosseini continues by saying, “For kite runners, the most coveted prize was the last fallen kite of a winter tournament.
It was a trophy of honor, something to be displayed on a mantle for guests to admire”. In this sense, those who have the prize of dominance of power are deemed to be privileged. As a caste system is all about hierarchy, which serves as the main reference of the parts to the whole in the social system, Louis Dumont explains in his book Homo Hierarchicus, “it must be borne in mind that there is an intrusion of power into the domain of hierarchy”.
When it comes to power, the novel provides a clear judgment on the exercise of power within the caste system as seen by how privileged is the dominant party and how the inferior party is left with nothing but scraps of those in endowed with power. Relating the concept of the caste system with the idea of stealing, Baba’s statement is reflective of how much the underprivileged are being robbed of their rights to equal opportunities and showcase of skills. As what Baba said to Amir, “Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one.
And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft”. Theft, in connection with the caste system, signifies how the socially disadvantaged are being robbed with the opportunity to equal rights and justice. Barnes wrote that a certain caste system can override some universal laws regarding the act of stealing and although several literatures conjure with the fact that everyone is to be judged according to the law and not according to family ties, social status, or political influence, it is not easy to enforce that principle.
In this notion, the rules are followed and obeyed because they are objectively right and not because they are means to preserve the order and the law. With this statement, it is strongly suggested that Baba had inkling that stealing is one of the consequences of living within the horizons of the caste system. As it is noted that Baba is somewhat referring to the religious entities who exercise holiness to cover evil deeds or intentions, it can be said that the novel maintains the fact that the caste system involves religious influence or authority in the hierarchy of society.
Hosseini’s Kite Runner takes its noble strength at the saying that true friendships hold no borders and adheres to no rules. The societal rules and roles do not prevent Amir and Hassan from forming a deep friendship that could defy the structure of their caste system and prove that human relationships are not limited to social status. The novel imparts that one can find a friend everywhere, in all aspects of life even when there is the presence of caste system in any forms.
Unfortunately, this conception is being overshadowed by those bullies who are greatly consumed by the idea of social class or status and are not open-minded enough to think of social equality and fairness. In the novel, the separation of class and religion, though Amir and Hassan share some conversations about the concepts of trust, integrity and friendship, their neighborhood friends do not appreciate or acknowledge Hassan’s role in the society and instead, the neighborhood boys ridicule and make fun of him due to his lower status.
The neighborhood boys reflect how people stigmatized those who are not endowed with wealth and power, a fact still evident nowadays. The involvement of the United States in the story plays a crucial role in presenting the powerful Amir to set a clear line between who is wealthy and powerful and who is unfortunate and bullied.