The Kite Runner Essay example

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The Kite Runner: The Influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan

Throughout the novel "The Kite Runner", by Khaled Hosseini, Afghanistan is explored as it falls under the dictatorship of the Taliban. Taliban, meaning “Students” in Pashto, is a group which began as an Islamic fundamentalist political movement that spread through Afghanistan and formed a government, ruling as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001(Laub). Hosseini portrays the Taliban's effect on Afghanistan predominantly through the main antagonist, Assef.

During the nineteenth century, Afghanistan posed as a strategic buffer between the Soviet Union and the British Empire. Under constant fear of attacks from the Soviet supported Hezb-e Islami political party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (AQ), many Afghanis viewed the Taliban as saviors; A prevailing organization with the muscle and power to protect their vulnerable nation. In ‘The Kite Runner’, Hosseini depicts personal incidents of the locals during this period of uncertainty. Rahim Khan, an elderly man whose effect on the protagonist Amir is evidently prominent, expresses his account of when the Taliban rose to defeat the Alliance in Kabul. Khan elucidates his story, saying: “I actually danced on that street’…‘and believe me, I wasn’t alone. People were so tired of the constant fighting, tired of the rockets, the gunfire, the explosions, tired of watching Gulbuddin and his cohorts firing on anything that moved.” (Hosseini 200). Despite success in eliminating corruption, restoring peace, and allowing commerce to resume, Afghanis reached the upsetting realization that the Taliban were in fact the ones to fear. Capitalizing on the flexibility the Afghan nation had lent in hopes of protection, the Taliban developed into a terrorizing brute organization. Under dictatorship of the Taliban, life for the men and woman of Afghanistan altered drastically. A very strict interpretation of Islamic law was implemented where executions and punishments became regular occurrences in public settings. Hosseini uses the antagonist Assef as the main representative of the Taliban in ‘The Kite Runner’. He is described as the leader, who conducts all orders and controls the way the organization operates. Assef is the “John Lennon” looking man behind the stoning and executions that take place at the Ghazi Soccer Stadium (Hosseini280-285) that Amir witnesses during his return to Afghanistan. Regular activities such as kite running were banned, and in order to maintain a purely Islamic population; television, music, and Internet were outlawed. There were also distinct rules depending on gender. Men were required to grow beards, and if ignored were subjected to beatings. The Taliban’s treatment towards woman was most shocking and life changing. In attempt to “safeguard woman and their honor”, extreme measures were applied. Woman were forbidden to attend any learning institutions, barred from working outside the house, were not permitted to leave their residence without a male relative, and if violated were subjected to a beating or shooting much like the men. (Rowen, Brunner, and Hayes)

Assef, since childhood always possessed a cruel and immoral demeanor towards others, and the source of his evil remains a mystery. He is the proud name behind a long list of cruelties, which include:…