The Kite Runner Chapters 1 - 5 Summary

Amir, a man of thirty-eight who lives in California, has received a phone call from a friend who asks if Amir can visit him. The friend, Rahim Khan, is calling from Pakistan, he tells Amir he knows of "a way to be good again".

The phone call brings back memories of 1975, when Amir was twelve, it was that winter which made him the man he is now. He sees some kites flying in the sky and thinks of his childhood playmate Hassan. Hassan is the boy who Amir remembers as the kite runner.

Hassan was the son of Ali, Amir's father's servant, who was born one year after Amir in 1964. Amir's father was a wealthy man who owned the most beautiful mansion in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, Afghanistan. The two boys had a lot in common, such as they both had absent mothers; Amir's mother died giving birth to him and Hassan's abandoned him when he was five days old. The same woman nursed them. This act, according to Ali, formed a bond between the two boys which couldn't be broken.

The differences between the boys was just as strong as the similarities. Hassan is of Hazara ethnicity, while Amir is Pashtun. The Pashtun oppressed and took the Hazara land, which made them outcasts in their own land. The history of the Hazara was barely taught in schools and they were taunted and ostracized in Kabul. Hassan is a Shi'a Muslim and Amir is Sunni Muslim, these two different sects do not agree, which was a reason for the fighting and the Hazara being ostracized.

Hassan and his father lived in a mud hut behind the mansion Amir and his father lived in. Ali was partially paralyzed from polio. He was tormented by the local children who called him Boogeyman. He never retaliated against those who teased him, because he found joy in his son. Hassan suffered taunts about his mother, who was a woman of low morals.

Amir's father was a giant of a man both in size and personality, he stood 6'5" and demanded respect. Unfortunately, he was not always accorded the respect he so desperately desired. He wanted to build an orphanage, but he didn't want to turn it over to others to design, so he decided to design it himself. He was told he could not design the building, but he persevered until he had a blueprint for the orphanage. He was always being told he should become a lawyer like his father, but instead he wanted to be a businessman. He proved those who told him he would fail wrong by building with his partner Rahim Khan a carpet-exporting business and owning two pharmacies and a restaurant.

He always saw the world in black and white, which made it difficult for Amir, because he didn't fit into his father's expectations of how a man should behave. Amir didn't like sports and he refused to stand up for himself against bullies, instead he read books and let Hassan do the fighting for him.

All Amir wanted was for his father to pay attention to him and to like him. He understood this was nearly impossible for his father, because he didn't understand Amir. His father didn't feel he would become the man he needed to be in order to survive in the world.

Amir and his father did have something in common, they both were brought up with servants who were also playmates. Ali was Amir's father's playmate as Hassan was Amir's.

One of Amir's and Hassan's favorite activities was Amir reading to Hassan. One day, he made up a story, while he pretended to read it from a book. Hassan told him it was the best story he had heard. This praise was just what Amir needed to hear, because he then wrote his own story.

He wrote a story about a man whose tears turned into pearls. After he had finished writing the story he took it to his father, in hopes he would like to read it. Instead of his father, Baba, reading it, Rahim Khan asked to read the story. He wrote Amir a note encouraging him to keep on writing.

That evening Amir woke up Hassan to read him the story. The boy enjoyed the story, but he pointed out to Hassan the man didn't need to make himself sad to produce the tears, he just needed to smell an onion. As Amir was replying to Hassan's observation, the world changed.

The boys heard gunfire in the streets. It was the start of a coup d'├ętat in which the king, Zahir Shah, was overthrown by his cousin Daud Khan. The official end came in April 1978 and the Soviet Union takeover of Afghanistan occurred in December of 1979. The boys were terrified by the gunfire, but Ali was there to keep them safe.

The next morning Baba returned home to reassure himself the boys and Ali were safe. Later that same day Hassan and Amir decided to go outside and find a place to read. As they walked they were met by Assef, a savage boy, who ruled the neighborhood through fear.

He wanted to beat up Amir for his friendship with Hassan, because he thought all the Hazara should be purged from the country. Hassan managed to turn him away by threatening to shoot him in the eye with his slingshot. Assef told the boys he would eventually get them.

On Hassan's birthday, Baba gave him the present of having his harelip repaired. This allowed him to have a normal smile, but by the time the scar was fully healed, Hassan no longer smiled.

Amir is relating his experience as boy whose father is very wealthy, but who does not like nor understand his son. He also explains his relationship with Hassan, his servant and playmate. The two boys realize Hassan standing up to a bully might lead to further problems, in the future.

Related Links:

The Kite Runner Chapters 1 - 5 Quiz
The Kite Runner Chapters 6 - 7 Summary
The Kite Runner Chapters 8 - 10 Summary
The Kite Runner Summary
The Kite Runner Quotes
The Kite Runner Important Characters
The Kite Runner Quiz
Literature Summaries

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