menu

What Instances of Irony Are in the Story 'The Kite Runner'?


"The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini tells the story of love and friendship between two half brothers. The story is ridden with strife, betrayal, corruption and deceit, and the central character, Amir, is forced to reconcile his haunting and troublesome past. Amir and his father's servant's son, Hassan, develop a strong connection that lasts decades, despite their turbulent and unfortunate childhood experiences. Hosseini uses situational and tragic examples of irony to reveal truth in "The Kite Runner."

Where the Real Power Lies

Ironically, Hassan holds the real power in Amir and Hassan's friendship and is actually Amir's half brother. Amir is wealthy, educated and spoiled and has all the privileges of the upper class. He holds his superior status over his poor best friend. Amir uses his position to control and manipulate situations to suit his best interests and fulfill his own selfish pursuits -- even allowing Hassan to get raped so he can take home the prize kite to his father, hoping to gain his approval. Hassan is a selfless, good person who has noble intentions and loves Amir unconditionally. Amir says, "Hassan never denied me anything." Hassan is confident and self-aware, content with his life, despite Amir's selfishness and betrayal. On the other hand, Amir lives with guilt, fear and anger, afraid someone might discover who he really is.

Baba's Dishonesty

Another example of irony in "The Kite Runner" is Amir and Hassan's father's blatant hypocrisy. Baba instructs Amir on integrity, marriage and honesty, yet he steals his friend's wife, fathers an illegitimate son and never gives Hassan his rightful place in the family. Baba says, "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." Baba can't admit his mistake out of shame and disgrace and lives a false, self-righteous life. Nonetheless, Amir is able to reconcile his own past once he learns of his father's former sins.

Lip Scars

Hassan and Amir both have lip abnormalities -- an ironic bond that links them together. Hassan is born with a cleft lip that symbolizes his lower-class upbringing and his undesirable position as a servant's son. Hassan's father doesn't have the funds to medically correct the lip. Baba pays a surgeon to mend the lip abnormality, likely out of guilt, but also as a sign of his love. As an adult, Amir receives a permanent scar on his lip after being beaten, symbolizing the connection between the half brothers. Amir learns that true love involves sacrifice.

Sohrab's Rescue and Adoption

One of the most emotionally captivating, yet ironic, elements in "The Kite Runner" is Amir's adoption of Hassan's son Sohrab. Amir rescues Sohrab from the Taliban and from his kidnapper, Assef. The rescue is ironic because Assef raped Hassan in childhood, as Amir watched, yet Hassan never held the horrible and troubling experience against Amir. Years later, Amir and his wife, who are unable to have children, adopt Sohrab and take him to America to raise him after Hassan's death.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

Photo Credits
  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images