The Kite Runner Chapters 11 - 12 Summary

In 1983 Amir and Baba had been living in Fremont, California for almost two years. Baba had taken a job working as an assistant at a gas station. Baba was not adjusting to life in America. He wouldn't take classes to learn English and he didn't like living in California.

One day Baba went to a small grocery store owned by Mr. and Mrs. Nguyen. He had shopped in there many times over the almost two years he and Amir lived in California, but this time he wanted to pay for his purchases by check. He became enraged, after Mr. Nguyen asked to see his identification. He smashed a jar of beef jerky, overturned a magazine rack, and toppled the orange display. Mr. Nguyen told him to leave and never return. His wife threatened to call the police, but Amir managed to calm them down by telling them he would pay for the damages. Baba couldn't understand why his word was not good enough for them, it was all he needed to make purchases in Afghanistan.

The move to America was for Amir, to give him a chance at a good life. Amir found it a place where he could put the nightmare of what happened to Hassan to rest, but for Baba the move made him sad and feeling alienated from his homeland.

In the summer of 1983 at the age of twenty, Amir graduated high school. Baba was very proud of his son, so proud he bought him a used car. He bought it so Amir could drive to the community college, where he would study English and pursue a creative writing career. Amir's career choice dismayed Baba, but he eventually accepted it.

The two men began to go to garage sales and then sell their finds the next day at a flea market. The San Jose flea market had a whole section comprised of Afghan vendors. It was there Baba introduced Amir to General Iqbal Taheri, who once worked for the Afghan Ministry of Defense and he was also a friend of Baba's father. Through the General, Amir was introduced to his daughter the beautiful Soraya, with whom Amir was instantly attracted.

That night Amir asked Baba about Soraya, because he remembered hearing some gossip about her. Baba told him there was a story about her and a man and things not going well. She had no boyfriends after this man. Baba used her story to illustrate the point that one incident can change an entire life. Amir only thought of her as "my Swap Meet Princess".

Amir couldn't get Soraya out of his mind. The seven days between flea market days seemed an eternity to him. But it was months before he worked up the courage to speak to her. He asked her the name of the book she was reading. This may seem like a small thing, but in Afghan society it was a very bold thing to do. Her reputation would come into to question for talking to a single man, while she was unchaperoned. As he was about to leave, Soraya's mother returned to the stall and she showed Amir she approved of his being there. This made him happy, but he knew the real test would be if her father approved.

The two of them would go on talking, while her mother joined them in the conversation,this went on week after week for a while. Then one day Soraya's father, the General, showed up and kindly, but firmly told Amir his attentions to his daughter were not wanted.

This dismissal crushed Amir, but he didn't have time to wallow, because soon after his father caught a cold. The cold turned into him coughing up blood, which led to a trip to the doctor. The doctor told them a spot was on his lung and he would need to see a specialist. After seeing a couple of specialists and enduring more tests, Baba was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer was inoperable and advanced, he was going to die.

Baba forbade Amir from telling anyone the news and he went about his life as usual as long as he could. He soon became more ill and was becoming weaker all the time. Then one day, as he was selling a lampshade to a Filipino man, he went into seizures. This time he was taken to the hospital by ambulance, where Amir was told the cancer had spread to Baba's brain. The doctor wanted him to start radiation treatments. Baba refused the treatments and Amir knew better than to try to talk him into having the therapy.

The Afghan community rallied around Baba and Amir, with so many coming to the hospital that the hallway was filled with people. General Taheri, his wife, and Soraya came to the hospital to see Baba. Amir didn't break down from the situation, until General Taheri asked if he could help him. Then he had to leave the room and cry, but Soraya came to him to offer her support.

That night Amir asked Baba for one last thing. He wanted him to ask General Taheri for Soraya's hand in marriage to Amir. Baba did this for his son and won the General's permission. Soraya then told Amir she had lived with an Afghan man for a month before her father took her home. She wanted no secrets between them before they wed. Although this bothered Amir, he loved her and still wanted to marry her. Amir kept his guilt a secret from Soraya. He knew Soraya was a better person than he was and certainly a more courageous person.

Amir and his father move to America to find a better life for Amir. Although they are poor they manage to survive and stay together. They learn to lean on each other to cope with a host of obstacles, including Baba's terminal illness. Amir amongst these trying times finds love.

Related Links:

The Kite Runner Chapters 11 - 12 Quiz
The Kite Runner Chapters 13 - 15 Summary
The Kite Runner Chapters 16 - 19 Summary
The Kite Runner Summary
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The Kite Runner Important Characters
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Literature Summaries

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