The transition from adulthood to childhood is certainly not a simple adjustment. Coming of age presents many challenging decisions, overwhelming pressures, and emotions that can be very difficult for adolescents to overcome. In the excerpts that we studied, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Escape to Afghanistan by Farah Ahmedi, the stories of two young people are told, revealing their struggles with coming of age and their personal life battles.
The Kite Runner tells the story of the character Amir who is a boy trying to deal with his own internal conflicts involving the relationship with his father, Baba, and friend Hassan; which also happens to be his servant.
In Escape to Afghanistan, the character Ahmedi is a girl telling the hardships that she endured while evading the dangers of the Taliban in her home country in order to seek safety for herself and sickly mother. Although these stories show obvious contrasts in both character and conflict, there are similarities that can compare these two young people’s life calamities as well.
Throughout The Kite Runner, Amir is inflicted with his own internal conflicts concerning the relationships around him, while Ahmedi’s conflict, in Escape to Afghanistan, focuses on the external struggles that she faces while embarking on the treacherous journey of crossing into to the Afghan border. Evidence of Amir’s “daddy issues” are revealed when he alludes to how Baba would take both Amir and Hassan to buy kites from the city’s most famous kite maker, the old man, Saifo.
The two boys receive three identical kites and spools of glass string. From the quote, “If I changed my mind and asked for a bigger and fancier kite, Baba would buy it for me – but then he’d buy it for Hassan too. Sometimes I wished he wouldn’t do that. Wished he’d let me be the favorite”, I believe that not only is Amir’s personal conflict with his father is revealed, but also major character flaws of selfishness and jealousy is exhibited as well.
The central external conflicts that Ahmedi is challenged with throughout the story include taking the major risk of traveling alone without any men, the atrocious conditions of the van ride to get to the border, and the tiresome uphill trek of the mountain path that she had to cross in order to make it into Afghanistan. She deals with nature’s conflicts all while maintaining the safety and well-being of her asthma ridden mother. In the quote, “As for getting across the border, no one knew what that entailed. And as for making the journey from the border to Quetta, that was like asking how to get from one part of the moon to another part.”, it shows that she was conscientious of the possible dangers, risks, and complications that were to come from this expedition.
A connection between the two conflicts that are presented in these stories would be how both characters have to deal with the class system in their countries. At the beginning of Escape to Afghanistan, the letter from Ahmedi’s mother’s cousin details that the Taliban in the region they were to travel to were prejudice against Hazaras which therefore would put them in great danger because they are of that minority. The class system is also an aspect of conflict created in The Kite Runner.
Amir gets to live a life of luxury because his father is a wealthy businessman, while his friend Hassan is treated differently and is forced to be a servant just because of his cultural decent of being a Hazara. I believe the most radical contrasts between The Kite Runner and Escape to Afghanistan would be the differences in the main characters of these stories. Through the way Amir told his story, he can be described as an arrogant, spoiled, unkind, and selfish boy. Support of his vindictiveness is shown through a particular exchange him and Hassan have.
The quote, “I knew I was being cruel, like when I’d taunt him if he didn’t know some big word. But there was something fascinating- albeit in a way- about teasing Hassan. ”, is prime example of Amir’s spiteful characteristics and behaviors. He also goes on to compare his actions toward Hassan to the game called “insect torture”, where Hassan is the ant and Amir is the one holding the magnifying glass tormenting the poor critter. Obviously, he takes a certain pleasure from being so unkind to Hassan. In contrast, Ahmedi is presented as a very thoughtful, caring, humble girl who is willing to make sacrifices for the ones she loves.
Some examples of her compassion that she has toward her mother are when it says, “My mother began to wheeze and gasp. I worried that she might stop breathing right then and there, so I tried to shield her with my body, tried to keep the other passengers from pressing in on her so that she would have her own space to breathe out of. ”, and also when she stuck by her mother’s side when walking the mountain path across the border although it took hours due to having to pause every few minutes for her. One certain theme that I noticed in both these stories is the relationships that the two characters had with their parents.
It seems that Amir is searching for validation of love within his relationship with his father while Ahmedi and her mother are both working together to protect one another and depend on each other in order to live a better life. Because of the exigent relationship that I have with my own mother, I can most closely relate to Amir’s internal conflict of seeking approval and love from his father. I often find myself jealous of my other siblings because I feel that they are treated as “favorites” while I’m frequently cast off as the black sheep within my family which is a circumstance that Amir faces is a way.
Because of the changing technologies and dynamics of family and parent/children relationships today, I feel we are unable to be in touch with our parents as much as we should be and it is creating unhealthy resentment and a longing for validation in many kids. To conclude, there are several contrasts in both conflict and character in the stories The Kite Runner and Escape to Afghanistan, but there are also notable similarities. These stories both tell interesting aspects of two young people’s coming of age stories and show the different perspectives of the lives of Hazaras and also the wealthy in the country of Afghanistan.