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The Kite Runner

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I Closed My Eyes And Covered My Face

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Often a writer will distract a reader from the full impact of a horrifyingly tragic moment in a story through the judicious use of comic relief. The technique of including amusing or simply mundane observations during moments of extreme discomfort for the reader is one that allows the writer to introduce scenes that, on their own, might be so awful as to be intolerable to the reader.

In The Kite Runner, Hosseini wants to emphasize the horrors inflicted on the people by the Taliban, but if he is too graphic, he risks the reader simply shutting the book and walking away. In the scene at the stadium in chapter 21, for example, when the Taliban is stoning a man and a woman to death, Hosseini includes several ordinary, almost amusing details that help to “normalize” the scene.

Highlight the phrase that most clearly represents Hosseini’s use of mundane and/or comical details to allow the reader some relief from the horror of the scene:

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The man in the hole was now a mangled mess of blood and shredded rags. His head slumped forward, chin on chest. The Talib … was looking down at another man squatting next to the hole, tossing a rock up and down in his hand. The squatting man had one end of a stethoscope to his ears and the other pressed on the chest of the man in the hole. He removed the stethoscope from his ears and shook his head no at the Talib in the sunglasses. The crowd moaned. John Lennon walked back to the mound. When it was all over, when the bloodied corpses had been unceremoniously tossed into the backs​ of red pickup trucks -- separate ones -- a few men with shovels hurriedly filled the holes. One of them made a passing attempt at covering up the large blood-stains by kicking dirt over them. A few minutes later, the teams took the field. Second half was under way.