The Kite Runner - Setting

By: Ebere Anokute, Thomas Henson, Andris Gomez, Bryana Wilson

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, the multicultural capital of Afghanistan and the largest city of the country
The novel begins in Kabul, Afghanistan with the two main characters Amir and Hassan. The city of Kabul is over 3,000 years old. The territory consists mainly of dramatic mountain ranges,with plains in the north and southwest, and large areas of sandy desert near the southern border with Pakistan. The first few chapters are set here in Kabul where the narrator, Amir, grew up. For much of the twentieth century, it was an independent kingdom and then republic. Later, the family must flee the country and the setting takes place in America after the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. This recent history of Afghanistan forms the backdrop to The Kite Runner. It is during this decade that Afghanistan becomes a proxy battleground for the Cold War empires of America and Russia.


  • The first few chapters are set in and around Amir's luxorious mansion of his childhood with Hassan. Whereas, Hassan's childhood takes place in the mud shack across Baba's house.

“In the 18 years that I lived in that house, I stepped into Hasssan and Ali’s courtors only a handful of times. When the sun dropped low behind the hills and we were done playing for the day, Hassan and I parted ways. I went past the rosebushes to Baba’s mansion, Hassan to the mud shack where he had been born, where he’d lived his entire life.” –pg. 6

  • Though they both lived in the same area and grew up practically like brother, they were by no means treated the same by society.
  • Amir and Baba are Pashtuns, while Hassan and Ali are Hazaras, descendants of the Moguls who are also Shi’a Muslims, and it is in these parallel tracks that we come to see the variety of life in Afghanistan; that being their traditions and hierarchies.
  • Amir and Hassan grow up together, are best friends, and even get into trouble together.
  • Hassan, however, realizes that he is Amir’s servant, and he is often cruelly mocked by others who consider him inferior because of his ethnicity.
  • Life in Kabul as a child was more like an adventure for Amir and Hassan. They did everything together and shared experiences.
    • As a huge spectator sport in Kabul, Kite Running was their most treasured hobby.
    • In addition to kite running, Amir and Hassan frequently hung out at the pomegranate tree at the top of the hill near Baba's house. T
    • They spent a majority of their childhood at this tree and it becomes quite symbolic of their friendship.
  • After Hassan and Ali unwillingly flee Baba's house, Amir would not only experience a drastic change in his life, but also an extreme transformation of his country.


Six years later, after a Communist coup in Afghanistan, Baba uses his wealth and connections to escape with Amir to Pakistan and eventually the United States. Following this communistinvasion of their beloved Kabul, Amir and Babe pack up their belongings and leave their home in the middle of the night. Eventually in the United States, they escape the harsh conditions of the Taliban and create a new life. Here Amir sells goods at a public flea market where he eventually meets his future wife and goes to college. When, twenty years after leaving Kabul, Amir gets his call from Rahim Khan, he returns to Pakistan and eventually to Afghanistan.
  • Upon his arrival, Amir is shocked and can not believe this was the country he has spend his most cherished moments with Hassan.
  • Amir begins to realize the extent of what has happened to the people of Afghanistan and the events that have destroyed Kabul in the time he has been away.
  • Everything was destroyed, even the pomegranate tree that once stood bright red now barely branches.
7715_o.jpg Mortar_attack_on_Shigal_Tarna_garrison,_Kunar_Province,_87.jpg
  • He reaches a neighborhood known as “Afghan Town,” and Amir sees dirty children selling cigarettes, carpet shops, and kabob vendors.
  • Rahim Khan tells Amir that Kabul became dangerous as the fighting for control of the city grew worse. Rockets fell randomly, destroying homes and killing civilians.
  • The smells he describes as he passes through Afghan Town, which include the familiar aroma of “rot, garbage, and feces” (pg.196)
  • The fighting destroyed everything, from the buildings Amir grew up in, to the way of life he remembers in Kabul.