The Kite Runner: Best Quotes with Page Numbers
Summary of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Who can look back upon their life without regret, especially their childhood, where so many of us learned tough lessons about friendship, bullying, and social repercussions?
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini tells the story of a young boy named Amir. Set against the background of the fall of Afghanistan’s government to the Soviet Union and the rise of the Taliban regime, Amir and his father (“Baba”) leave Afghanistan and move to the United States, where haunting memories of his childhood best friend—Hassan, the son of his father’s servant—and unfinished business draw Amir back to Afghanistan.
If you’re looking for a light, feel-good read, put The Kite Runner back on the shelf. If you’re looking for a heavy, poignant story, pick it back up. A modern humanist novel, The Kite Runner explores deep feelings of guilt, regret, and redemption. The book is unquestionably intense, but it is well worth the read. Real emotion and beautiful moments shine through the depressing events and setting.
“There is a way to be good again.” (2)
The Best Quotes (with Page Numbers)
- “I loved him because he was my friend, but also because he was a good man, maybe even a great man. And this is what I want you to understand, that good, real good, was born out of your father’s remorse. Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.” (302)
- As he was slipping the key into the lobby door, I said, "I wish you’d give the chemo a chance, Baba."
Baba pocketed the keys, pulled me out of the rain and under the building’s striped awning. He kneaded me on the chest with the hand holding the cigarette. "Bas! I’ve made my decision."
"What about me, Baba? What am I supposed to do?" I said, my eyes welling up. A look of disgust swept across his rain-soaked face. It was the same look he’d given me when, as a kid, I’d fall, scrape me knees, and cry. It was the crying that brought it on then, the crying that brought it on now. 'You’re twenty-two years old, Amir! A grown man! You…" he opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, reconsidered. Above us, rain drummed on the canvas awning. 'What’s going to happen to you, you say? All those years, that’s what I was trying to teach you, how to never have to ask that question." (156 – 157)
"What was the old saying about the bad penny? My past was like that, always turning up." (281)
Another honk. I walked back to the Land Cruiser parked along the sidewalk. Farid sat smoking behind the wheel.
“I have to look at one more thing,” I told him.
“Can you hurry?”
“Give me ten minutes.”
“Go, then.” Then, just as I was turning to go: “Just forget it all. Makes it easier.”
“To go on,” Farid said. He flicked his cigarette out the window. “How much more do you need to see? Let me save you the trouble: Nothing that you remember has survived. Best to forget.”
“I don’t want to forget anymore,” I said. “Give me ten minutes.” (263)
"It always hurts more to have and lose than to not have in the first place." (211)
- "I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years." (1)
- “But I hope you will heed this: A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.” (301)
- "Insanely, I wanted to go in. Wanted to walk up the front steps where Ali used to make Hassan and me take off our snow boots. I wanted to step into the foyer, smell the orange peel Ali always tossed into the stove to burn with sawdust. Sit at the kitchen table, have tea with a slice of naan, listen to Hassan sing old Hazara songs."
- “How long?” Sohrab asked.
“I don’t know. A while."
Sohrab shrugged and smiled, wider this time. “I don’t mind. I can wait. It’s like the sour apples.”
“One time, when I was really little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn't have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples.” (340)
- "That was when Baba stood up. It was my turn to clamp a hand on his thigh, but Baba pried it loose, snatched his leg away. When he stood, he eclipsed the moonlight. 'I want you to ask this man something,' Baba said. He said it to Karim, but looked directly at the Russian officer. 'Ask him where his shame is.'"
They spoke. “He says this is war. There is no shame in war."
“Tell him he’s wrong. War doesn't negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.” (115)
“It hurts to say that. But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.” (58)
- “I have a wife in America, a home, a career, and a family. Kabul is a dangerous place, you know that, and you’d have me risk everything for…” I stopped.
“You know," Rahim Khan said, “one time, when you weren’t around, your father and I were talking. And you know how he always worried about you in those days. I remember he said to me, ‘Rahim, a boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.’ I wonder, is that what you’ve become?” (221)
- With me as the glaring exception, my father molded the world around him to his liking. The problem, of course, was that Baba saw the world in black and white. And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little. (15)
- Maybe this was my punishment, and perhaps justly so. It wasn’t meant to be, Khala Jamila had said. Or, maybe, it was meant not to be. (188)
- “Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that?”
“No, Baba jan,” I said, desperately wishing I did. I didn’t want to disappoint him again.
“When you kill a man, you steal a life,” Baba said. “You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see?” (18)
“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” (21)
- We crossed the border and the signs of poverty were everywhere. On either side of the road, I saw chains of little villages sprouting here and there, like discarded toys among the rocks, broken mud houses and huts consisting of little more than four wooden poles and a tattered cloth as a roof. I saw children dressed in rags chasing a soccer ball outside the huts. A few miles later, I spotted a cluster of men sitting on their haunches, like a row of crows, on the carcass of an old burned-out Soviet tank, the wind fluttering the edges of the blankets thrown around them. Behind them, a woman in a brown burqa carried a large clay pot on her shoulder, down a rutted path toward a string of mud houses.
“Strange,” I said.
“I feel like a tourist in my own country,” I said, taking in a goatherd leading a half-dozen emaciated goats along the side of the road.
Farid snickered. Tossed his cigarette. “You still think of this place as your country?”
“I think a part of me always will,” I said, more defensively than I had intended.
“After twenty years of living in America,” he said, swerving the truck to avoid a pothole the size of a beach ball.
I nodded. “I grew up in Afghanistan.”
Farid snickered again.
“Why do you do that?"
“Never mind,” he murmured.
“No, I want to know. Why do you do that?”
In his rearview mirror, I saw something flash in his eyes. “You want to know?” he sneered. “Let me imagine, Agha sahib. You probably lived in a big two- or three-story house with a nice backyard that your gardener filled with flowers and fruit trees. All gated, of course. Your father drove an American car. You had servants, probably Hazaras. Your parents hired workers to decorate the house for the fancy mehmanis they threw, so their friends would come over to drink and boast about their travels to Europe or America. And I would bet my first son’s eyes that this is the first time you’ve ever worn a pakol.” He grinned at me, revealing a mouthful of prematurely rotting teeth. “Am I close?”
“Why are you saying these things?” I said.
“Because you wanted to know,” he spat. He pointed to an old man dressed in ragged clothes trudging down a dirt path, a large burlap pack filled with scrub grass tied to his back. “That’s the real Afghanistan, Agha sahib. That’s the Afghanistan I know. You? You’ve always been a tourist here, you just didn’t know it.” (231 – 232)
“It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime, Amir.” (142)
- “You should have seen the look on my father’s face when I told him. My mother actually fainted. My sisters splashed her face with water. They fanned her and looked at me as if I had slit her throat. My brother Jalal actually went to fetch his hunting rifle before my father stopped him. It was Homaira and me against the world. And I’ll tell you this, Amir jan: In the end, the world always wins. That’s just the way of things.” (99)
- One day, maybe around 1983 or 1984, I was at a video store in Fremont. I was standing in the Westerns section when a guy next to me, sipping Coke from a 7-Eleven cup, pointed toThe Magnificent Seven and asked me if I had seen it. “Yes, thirteen times,” I said. “Charles Bronson dies in it, so do James Coburn and Robert Vaughn.” He gave me a pinch-faced look, as if I had just spat in his soda. “Thanks a lot, man,” he said, shaking his head and muttering something as he walked away. That was when I learned that, in America, you don’t reveal the ending of the movie, and if you do, you will be scorned and made to apologize profusely for having committed the sin of Spoiling the End.
In Afghanistan, the ending was all that mattered. When Hassan and I came home after watching a Hindi film at Cinema Zainab, what Ali, Rahim Khan, Baba, or the myriad of Baba’s friends—second and third cousins milling in and out of the house—wanted to know was this: Did the Girl in the film find happiness? Did the bacheh film, the Guy in the film, becomekamyab and fulfill his dreams, or was he nah-kam, doomed to wallow in failure?
Was there happiness at the end, they wanted to know.
If someone were to ask me today whether the story of Hassan, Sohrab, and me ends with happiness, I wouldn’t know what to say.
After all, life is not a Hindi movie. Zendagi migzara, Afghans like to say: Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end, kamyab, nah-kam, crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis. (356 – 357)