First Seeds of Classism in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner
My grandmother, when growing up as a teenage immigrant from Japan in America, had suffered atrocities in her lifetime. Be it not speaking English with perfection in accent and pronunciation, or the foods in which she ate, she was tantalized and berated on a day-to-day basis. The people around her had thought of themselves as “elevated” or “above her” in all aspects of their lives, and treated her like she was beneath them, like gum on the soles of their shoes. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, Amir, a wealthy Sunni muslim in Afghanistan, endeavors through an excruciatingly traumatic childhood, and as a result, must contend with finding his place in society. In Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, Classism demonstrates the creation of divisions overall between people, and thus accomplishes this through othering other individuals.
The Kite Runner exhibits the creation of divisions and classism between people through the scene in which Hassan was brutishly raped by Assef and his followers. With Hassan being a Hazara, or someone of lower social class, Assef feels acquitted with his abhorrent actions, and believes that what he is doing is appropriated by Hassan’s race. He thinks that Hassan should heed to and satisfy his wants, and only his wants. Assef expects Hassan to obey, and by raping Hassan, he is asserting his dominance and flexing his power, and expressing how he is above him on the social scale, and that Hassan will do whatever Assef wishes him to do as he so pleases. Assef’s definition of Hassan as an “it” is demonstrating how he views Hassan as an object, or something worthless, and is attempting to degrade him. He is proclaiming his control over Hassan by demeaning him, and declaring him not as a human, but as an object, or an animal; something to be thrown around, or something not comparable to the value of a human life. Hassan perceives his place in society, and accepts his given place. He acknowledges that he is merely a Hazara, and that he has been taught to serve those who are superior to him in class. Assef may oppress Hassan with inhumane methods, yet Hassan is stuck due to his class. He cannot fight back or resist, he can only comply, as he has been taught to, with the needs and wants of others. Through the scene in which Hassan was viciously raped by Assef, The Kite Runner exhibits the creation of divisions and classism between people.
The Kite Runner demonstrates the creation of divisions between people through the stoning scene, where Assef and various other Talibans aggressively wield stones at supposed sinners, or others below them, under the name of God. In this scene, the Taliban dismantles Hazaras of their human qualities as a method of affirming their supremacy. Members of the Taliban believe that brutally slaughtering who they personally see fit is for the greater good of Afghanistan as a whole, and therefore they acquit exclusively themselves from their malpractices. They believe that their butchery and cleansing of sinning Hazaras is of paramount importance, and must be done wholly in order to obey their God. Under God’s name, the Taliban cover up their misdeeds by claiming that they themselves are carrying out justice to God, that God wants them to individually oppress and punish those who are below them. By placing themselves above those who are sinners to Afghanistan, with the rationale that God is the almighty who is instructing them to kill, they emphasize their hierarchy above the inferior Hazara minorities. Hosseini uses first person in the words of a cleric at the stoning event, and the excessive usage of God and what He says emphasizes how what the Talibans, an elevated social class, are exploiting is under the approval of God, and thus is justifying their inhumanity and malice. Assef, a Taliban official, is wearing a loose piece of white clothing, which thus makes him appear to the public as a God-like figure, and is contradictory to what he has executed in his life, with corruption, death, and illegality. Assef’s round, black sunglasses, not unlike John Lennon’s, are exemplifying what Lennon was most famous for, his song “Imagine”, in which Lennon wants the listener to imagine a world without war or brutality, however; Assef is contradictory to this, and is the apotheosis of cruelty and corruption. Assef believes his barbarity and bloodthirst is justified due to him becoming a Taliban and having a higher social class, and with that comes a belief of natural superiority over others. Through the stoning scene, The Kite Runner establishes the formulation of divisions via classism between people.
Classism is demonstrated with the creation of divisions between people through the climactic fight scene between Amir and Assef, where the two attempt to brawl to the death. In this setting, Assef describes his razes of Hazaras, or people who are unworthy, or beneath him, as advocated under God, and uses this as a method of confirming his supremacy. Assef considers himself chosen by God, or someone of high placement in Afghan Taliban society, and he believes that due to this, he must demonstrate his social scale given powers on a grand scale. Assef deems his malpractices as educational, and places himself as an educator, or teacher to the masses, in which he is demonstrating his jurisdiction. His brutal and misshapen slaughtering is meant to be a learning experience, where he illustrates that this is what happens to sinners of God, and that this is what Assef, an official of the Taliban, a class higher than them, will do to them if misconduct towards him, God, or Afghanistan occurs. Assef judges his merciless carnage as God’s work, and as such, he views it as honorable, or even freeing. He believes that killing whoever is below him on the social scale is equitable, and under God’s rule, is morally justified. The Kite Runner demonstrates the creation of divisions by way of classism between people through the combative fight scene between Amir and Assef. Through Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, Classism indicates the creation of divisions overall between people, and thus accomplishes this through othering other individuals. This novel leaves reader with a better understanding of Classism and its workings overall, and an enhanced view of how divisions are developed in society today. Although the novel shows readers a variety of scenarios where othering is prevalent, this story teaches readers about the walls that divide communities, society, or even our personal lives.
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