Summary of Chapter Twenty-Three
Amir comes in and out of consciousness, hearing his nurse Aisha speak to him. Everything hurts. He has pain at his side where his ribs were broken. There is something wrong with his mouth where his teeth were knocked out. He hallucinates, but he sees Farid and Sohrab by his bedside. His mouth is wired shut, so he cannot talk. Dr. Faruqi explains he is in a Peshawar hospital, lucky to be alive. His spleen is ruptured; he has broken ribs, a punctured lung, a lacerated upper lip, and an orbital fracture.
When he is conscious he speaks to Farid and Sohrab through his wired teeth, introducing himself to Sohrab. Sohrab remembers his father’s stories about Amir. Amir thanks Sohrab for saving his life. Farid has taken Sohrab in with his family for the time being. Amir feels that Farid is his friend now and asks about Rahim Khan. Rahim Khan had gone from Peshawar but left a letter.
Amir sees a bearded man come into the hospital room and stare at him, a stranger. Sohrab stays in the hospital room, and Amir tries to make friends with him, but Sohrab is quiet and withdrawn. Later, Amir reads Rahim Khan’s letter.
It apologizes for the lies told to him and Hassan in the past. Rahim Khan tries to explain what Baba’s world was like, where “some things mattered more than the truth” (263). He admits that Baba was hard on Amir when he was growing up. He was taking the difficult situation out on Amir since he could not love Hassan openly: “Your father, like you, was a tortured soul” (263). Rahim Khan was desolate when Baba died; Baba was a friend and a good man. He tries to convince Amir that good “was born out of your father’s remorse” (263), such as feeding the poor and building an orphanage. Rahim Khan thinks God forgives Baba, himself, and Amir. He hopes Amir will forgive him too. He leaves his money to Amir for any expenses he may have. He has little time left and wants to die alone in peace.
Amir thinks that both he and his father sinned, but at least his father tried to do good. What had he himself done “other than take my guilt out on the very same people I had betrayed, and then try to forget it all?” (264)
When Farid comes the next day, he tells Amir he has to get out of the hospital; the Taliban will be looking for him. Amir remembers the strange bearded man looking at him. Farid offers to take him to Islamabad as soon as he can walk. Meanwhile, Amir plays cards with Sohrab to make friends with him. He tells him stories about his father when they were children. Sohrab flinches when Amir tries to touch him.
Amir thinks he is going to drop Sohrab off at the Peshawar orphanage run by Americans before he leaves town, only to find out there never was such a place. They get Rahim Khan’s money from the bank and take Sohrab to Islamabad instead.
Commentary on Chapter Twenty-Three
Rahim Khan apologizes for lying to Amir about the past, but he lies again about there being Americans in Peshawar who will take Sohrab. Obviously, he sees what Amir cannot see for himself. His nephew has no home, and Amir has no children. It is a perfect fit and part of the redemption package.
Amir is now friends with Farid and apologizes for putting him in danger. Farid replies, “For you, a thousand times over” (266), Hassan’s favorite saying, which makes Amir cry. He almost cries again when Sohrab tells Amir that his father said Amir was “the best friend he ever had” (267). Amir thinks it is not true but determines to be that friend to Sohrab. He himself notes the irony that he has a split lip the way Hassan had a harelip. It seems just to him that he will have the same sort of scar now as his half-brother had.
Summary of Chapter Twenty-Four
They stay at a hotel in Islamabad near the famous Shah Faisal Mosque, the biggest mosque in the world. The hotel has a TV, so Sohrab, “stone-faced” (272), watches TV, rocking back and forth. Amir gives the astonished Farid $2,000 for his help and never sees him again.
Amir, very ill, goes to sleep, but when he wakes up, he finds Sohrab gone. He guesses that Sohrab might have gone to the mosque and finds him there, sitting and watching it. They sit in the dark talking. Sohrab tells about a trip to a mosque with his father, but says he hardly remembers his parents’ faces anymore. Amir gives him the Polaroid snapshot of Hassan and Sohrab that Rahim Khan gave him.
Sohrab has been thinking about mosques and worried, he asks Amir if he will go to hell for hurting the man in the eye. Amir tries to hug him, but Sohrab pulls away. Amir says no, he won’t go to hell. Hassan had told Sohrab it was wrong to hurt even bad people because they don’t know better, and bad people sometimes become good.
Amir tells him some people will not become good; the man had once hurt his father. Sohrab cannot believe anyone would hurt his father, because he was never mean to anyone. Amir says there are bad people in the world, and you have to stand up to them. His father would be proud of him.
Sohrab misses his family but is glad they are not there, because he feels dirty and full of sin. Amir tells him he is not, and finally Sohrab allows him to hold him while he cries. Amir feels a kinship with Sohrab. They were bound by what happened in the room with Assef. He asks Sohrab if he would like to come to America with him, but he does not answer.
They take some time to go sightseeing, and they play cards together. Amir admits to Sohrab that he and Hassan were brothers, but that they didn’t know it because they weren’t supposed to be. Because he was Hazara, Sohrab asks?
Sohrab looks at Amir differently after that and asks questions about San Francisco. He is afraid to go with Amir in case Amir and his wife get tired of him. “I don’t want to go to another orphanage,” he says (283). Amir promises he won’t have to go to an orphanage.
Amir calls Soraya and tells her everything. As he confesses his past to her finally, something lifts from him. She weeps and insists that he bring Sohrab home. Amir goes to the American Embassy trying to get permission to adopt Sohrab, but the official refuses because he has no proof of the parents’ death and no proof of kinship. He tells him it is hopeless, but gives him the name of an immigration lawyer, Omar Faisal.
Amir calls Soraya and tells her the bad news, but she is checking international adoption agencies in the U. S. She has some contacts. Omar Faisal tells him an adoption will be almost impossible, because there are no parental death certificates. There is also the difficulty that Shari’a, Islamic law, does not recognize adoption. A humanitarian visa is a possibility, but he advises putting Sohrab in an orphanage in Islamabad and then filing papers to get him out later.
When Amir tells Sohrab that this is the temporary plan while they do the necessary paperwork, Sohrab weeps and begs not to go to an orphanage. While Amir falls asleep, Sohrab goes into the bathroom to take a long bath. Meanwhile, Soraya calls and says there is a way out after all. They have to get him to America, and then they can keep him there. They will get him in on a humanitarian visa.
Amir rushes to the bathroom to tell Sohrab the good news, but instead, begins screaming at what he finds. He calls the ambulance.
Commentary on Chapter Twenty-Four
Amir begins to work out the emotional pain that both he and Sohrab carry, by getting close to him. The breakthrough comes when he tells Sohrab they are related. Sohrab’s greatest fear is going back to the orphanage, which Amir promises him will never happen. Sohrab is quite aware he is Hazara and is afraid Amir and Soraya will tire of him. Just as he begins to trust Amir, Amir runs up against the difficulty of adopting an Afghan boy. This is the time right before 9/11/2001, and the United States is not at war with Afghanistan yet, but the lawyer explains the difficulty of adopting children from disaster areas where it is hard to prove the parents are dead.
Sohrab is traumatized and feeling sinful, both because of what he did to Assef, and the sexual assaults. He often takes long baths, and Amir thinks he is trying to get morally clean again. When Amir tells him he will have to go back to an orphanage for a short while, this sounds like a death sentence to Sohrab, and he tries to commit suicide in the bathtub.
Summary of Chapter Twenty-Five
Amir waits in the hospital while they try to save Sohrab. The boy had cut his wrists and was bleeding to death. They won’t let Amir in to see him, so Amir does something he has rarely done. He falls to the floor on a makeshift prayer rug and says his Muslim prayers. Suddenly he believes in God. The people in the hospital lobby watch his desperate prayers. Finally the doctor comes to say they have saved the boy.
The hotel manager asks Amir to leave because of the scandal. Amir goes to a bookstore and buys a copy of the Shahnamah and takes it to the hospital and reads it to Sohrab. Sohrab can only say, “Tired of everything” (308). He says he wants his old life back. Amir thinks he would like that old life back too. He tells Sohrab he has a visa for America and wants him to come with him.
Amir knows that something has been lost between him and Sohrab, but he didn’t know then that it would be almost a year before Sohrab would speak again. Amir cannot say whether Sohrab’s story ends happily, though there has been a tiny miracle he wants to report.
When he brings Sohrab home in August of 2001, the boy remains silent and unresponsive, no matter what Amir or Soraya do. They give him a good home, and Soraya’s parents try to welcome him. Amir tells his in-laws his injuries are from being mugged, but they do not understand why he has brought a Hazara boy home. Amir confesses the family secret to them. As the months go by, it is as though the boy is not there at all. Mostly, he sleeps. Soraya had been excited about having a child, but she can do nothing with Sohrab and is disappointed.
During that year the Twin Towers come down in Manhattan (the terrorist attacks on 9/11) and America goes to war with Afghanistan. Amir and Soraya get involved with Afghan charities. Finally in March of 2002 there is a sign of hope. Afghan families gather in a park in Fremont, and there is a kite seller there. Amir buys a kite and begins telling stories of what a good kite runner Hassan was. Sohrab helps Amir fly the kite, and when they engage another kite in a fight, the glassy look in Sohrab’s eyes is gone. He is suddenly alive. He smiles.
Commentary on Chapter Twenty-Five
Amir mentions that Sohrab’s silence is “the silence of one who has taken cover in a dark place” (315). It is finally kite flying that brings him out of his shell, though the narrator, Amir, warns the reader that he does not know if the story of Hassan and Sohrab ends happily or not. He implies by this, either that a story like that cannot end well, or it is too early to tell. Nevertheless, for Amir, Sohrab’s smile is like the first snowflake melting in spring. He leaves the story open-ended, and yet, from a symbolic point of view, the story has come full circle, and there is a redemption in Amir’s family, with the survivors together. Hassan’s dream that his son will be free and have a chance in life has come true. There is also the feeling that in America the racial issue can be put to rest. Amir sternly tells the General never to refer to Sohrab as “that Hazara boy” again.
Ironically, Amir barely mentions the implications of 9/11 for Muslim Americans. He does not mention that Afghan-Americans might have to worry about being stereotyped or threatened because the terrorists in Manhattan were Muslim extremists, connected to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. This might be because Hosseini himself received only generous support from other Americans after 9/11. Amir mentions America bombing Afghanistan and the Taliban hiding like rats in caves. He speaks of the new American-backed President Hamid Karzai with hope, as though the war will finally end, though the reader sees with a longer view that a decade later, as of 2010, it has not happened yet.