The Kite Runner

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How to Never Have to Ask


Throughout The Kite Runner, Amir struggles with the ability to live up to Baba’s expectations, especially in contrast to Hassan’s seemingly effortless capacity to be everything Baba wants in a son.

In chapter 12, after his father decides to forgo chemotherapy, Amir begins to cry, provoking an angry reaction from his father that reflects on the overall characterization of both father and son:

“What’s going to happen to you, you say? All those years, that’s what I was trying to teach you, how to never have to ask that question.”

Which of the following earlier interactions between Baba and Amir is LEAST expressive of this complicated dynamic?


“Baba, sit down please,’ I said, tugging at this sleeve. ‘I think he really means to shoot you.’ Baba slapped my hand away. ‘Haven’t I taught you anything?’”


“For me, America was a place to bury my memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his. ‘Maybe we should go back to Peshawar. You were happier there, Baba. It was more like home,’ I said. ‘Peshawar was good for me. Not good for you. … Besides, I didn’t bring us here for me, did I?’”


“His glare made my throat feel dry. I cleared it and told him I’d written a story. … I probably stood there for under a minute, but, to this day, it was probably one of the longest minutes of my life. Seconds plodded by, each separated from the next by an eternity. … Baba went on staring me down, and didn’t offer to read.”


“Then I saw Baba do something I had never seen him do before: He cried. It scared me a little, seeing a grown man sob. Fathers weren’t supposed to cry. ‘Please,’ Baba was saying, but Ali had already turned to the door, Hassan trailing him. I’ll never forget the way Baba said that, the pain in his plea, the fear.”


“’I’ve never laid a hand on you, Amir, but you ever say that again…’ He looked away, shaking his head. ‘You bring me shame. And Hassan … Hassan’s not going anywhere, do you understand?”