Social Hierarchy In Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
In Kite Runner Hosseini uses division, and the conflicts it creates, to help support how he views social hierarchy. By focusing on the problems it produces, the need to end social hierarchy becomes apparent. When Amir avoids confrontation as Hassan is being raped, the comparison to a sheep being killed helps Amir rationalize his thoughts, “his imminent demise is for a greater purpose”, Amir compares Hassan to a lesser life form, being sacrificed for the greater purpose of hierarchy. The implicit bias of being greater than Hassan, leads to a tragedy in the name of classes, and a similar tragedy happens as Amir watches a soccer game in Afghanistan, “every sinner must be punished in a matter of befitting his sin”.
As Amir struggles in the climate that he is in, social hierarchy, and the cycles it creates, roots from the ingrained sense of one’s place. Throughout the book Amir has struggled with this issue, as the Pashtun, the dominant class, and the Hazara, the lower class, clash in his own backyard. The Hazara, being the lower class, split themselves almost as much as the Pashtun do. Amir realizes this when confronted by Assef, “how he can live with such an ingrained sense of one’s place in the hierarchy”, Hassan talks to Assef with respected terms, and he believes that is the correct way to talk to Assef. The way Hassan places himself lower, even in tense conditions shows how ingrained his sense of himself is.
The book continues as Rahim Kahn reveals that he once was in love with a Hazara lady that was his servant. He tells of a story about how, after telling his parents, this woman was shipped away and he never saw her again, “Probably for the best” Rahim Kahn gets stuck in the same cycle of differentiating himself due to social classes. This separation of classes continues on as she moves away, and the cycle continue. Rahim Kahn explains that the same happened with Baba, “All that a man had back then...was his honor, Baba got stuck in the same cycle as he was too embarrassed to embrace Hassan as a son.
Even as the dominant class becomes affected by the hierarchy, the ingrained sense of one’s place is what creates it to begin with. By thinking the right to certain things, due to race, the social classes create a hierarchy out of themselves, leading to the issues that it develops. By understanding your privilege and place in the social hierarchy, the ignorance to the issue is broken and the vicious cycle can be broken. Baba remains a primary example of how this vicious cycle remains in place. When he does not recognize his implicit bias, and continues on the cycle. “All that a man had back then...was his honor” Baba maintained the status quo of differentiating himself from the Hazara, and therefore was not able to embrace his son. When Amir comes back from America to Afghanistan, he begins to recognize his privilege rather than ignoring it, “‘I feel like a tourist in my own country,’” Amir did not realize the poverty that surrounded him earlier, and begins to understand how sheltered he was. Using this emotion he is able to break the cycle in place, “I planted a fistful of crumpled money under a mattress”. Amir begins to break the cycles he has lived in, by recognizing how others are struggling and helping them with his privilege. By giving example of Amir breaking the cycle, Hosseini suggests that recognizing privilege is the way to break social hierarchy cycles. This is repeated as he is getting beat up by Assef, “since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace”. Amir realizes how after betraying his best friend he used his privilege to kick him out of the house, and by rescuing Sohrab, and fighting Assef, he is breaking the vicious cycle by placing himself in harm’s way to help Sohrab. This continues the idea that Hosseini suggests recognizing implicit bias is the only way to end social hierarchy and the cycles it produces.