Abstract The character Hassan is consistently humble and good, leaving a great impression in reader’s mind. The role of Hassan in the story is significant. However, there are few scholars focusing on the character of Hassan. This essay focuses on the tragedy of Hassan, analyzing the causes with the theory Etiology. Etiology is a theory studying on various causes of one phenomenon. Key words: The kite runner; Hassan; Tragedy; Causes; Etiology 1. Introduction The kite runner is a novel written by Khaled Hosseini.
After it came out, it immediately became one of the best – sellers worldwide.
It tells the story mainly about Amir’s redemption. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet invasion, and the rise of the Taliban regime. A lot of scholars have made literary interpretation on this novel. Most of them focus on the heroine Amir’s betrayal and redemption, such as essay Amir’s Growth: A Jungian Interpretation of the Kite Runner (LV Tuo, 2003) and Growth in the Redemption Journey— Interpretation from the Aspect of Bildungsroman (Jiang Xiaoqing, 2010).
Some scholars conclude that the result of the betrayal mainly due to “the absence of anima projection”, “the desire of father’s love” (Lin Qianqian) and also “his weak personality and fears inward” (Kang Junhei, Chang Zhonghua). There are also literary studies on other topics, such as kite images, racial discrimination, and narrative strategy. But there is only a few focusing on the characterization of Hassan specially.
Li Jing (2009), a scholar majoring in English and American literature, has studied the characterization of Hassan and in her essay Analysis of the Character Hassan, she describes that Hassan is the scapegoat of racial disputes and parents’ fault. This essay is aimed to study more on the causes of Hassan’s tragedy from both internal and outside factors. 2. The tragic story of Hassan If Amir’s character arc is about growth, Hassan’s arc is about not changing at all. From the start and through his death, Hassan remained the same: loyal, forgiving, and good-natured.
He was born as an illegitimate child and could not be admitted by Baba. He had Pushtus blood but was wrongly taken as a Hazara boy. He was a friend as well as a servant of Amir. When he was threatened by three boys in town, he chose Amir’s kite instead of his own dignity without hesitating. He was raped by them as a result. Amir felt guilty for not helping Hassan out when he was being bullied. He wanted Hassan to disappear in front of him so that he would not suffer from the feeling of guilt. He framed Hassan for stealing his birthday gift, a watch, by putting it under Hassan’s pillow.
Hassan admitted it and leaved the family. Hassan had no rancor for Amir, though he had betrayed him. Hassan even sacrificed his life to protect the house of Baba and Amir. Taliban soldiers wanted to own the house and asked Hassan out. But Hassan refused to leave and was shot, together with his wife. He suffered from various troubles but never regret what he had chosen. He died in his early age, leaving his child an orphan. Tragedy is a kind of drama. Its heroine fights with overwhelming force and faces with an unhappy or disastrous end.
In the story, Hassan did not resist with all the injustice given to him as other tragic heroine did. He was submissive and loyalty to Amir. But he resisted with all the forces that defended Amir. He died in the end, not for himself, but for Amir. It is another kind of tragedy. 3. Importance of learning the character Hassan The novel, the kite runner, uses the first person in narration. As the narrator, Amir, indubitably, is the main character of this novel. Scholars pay more attention on Amir because there is detail information of Amir’s psychological action.
His transformation reflects the positive power of humanity and his pursuit to be good again is moving and shocking. However, Hassan plays a more important role in disclosing servility as well as goodness in humanity. Also, the causes of his tragedy draw forth the social problems of racial discrimination, inequality, and the brutal rule in Afghanistan of that time. This character is worth study. Hassan’s character is so good and humble that his tragedy becomes more sympathetic. Hassan’s tragedy is not accidental. 4. The causes of the tragedy 4. 1 About Etiology Etiology is a theory studying on causes and effects.
This theory is used commonly in the medical area. Known as “pathogenic” or “aetiology”, it is dedicatedly used to study causes and solutions of disease. In addition, etiology is used in philosophy, physics, psychology, government operations and biology, explaining a variety of causes for one phenomenon. Aristotle thinks that philosophy is not only to reveal the true nature of things but also explore the reason of them. Without knowing the primary cause of a thing, one cannot say that he has known a thing. He pointed out that causes of changes in things can be concluded in two kinds of reasons.
They are the “apparent” reasons and the “essential” reasons. Etiology is exactly a theory to figure out the two kinds of reasons for one thing. 4. 2 Who is to blame for a tragedy? Tragedy presents situations in which there is a desperate urgency to assign blame. (Oxford, 2005) Hassan’s story is a tragedy. But who is to blame? Who is to blame for a tragedy? One explanation is that it is a particular individual sometimes known as “the tragic hero” or “protagonist”. Another is that it is the gods or God, or some force or agency that can be credited with irresistible power to determine our lives.
(Oxford, 2005) The first explanation indicates that intrinsic factors may contribute to the formation of tragedy, while the latter one indicates that extrinsic factors also play a role in it. Using Etiology, we will find out which one is the essential cause and which one is the apparent. 4. 3 The reasons of Hassan’s tragedy 4. 3. 1 The extrinsic reasons 4. 3. 1. 1 The racial discrimination Afghanistan is a multiethnic society. Pashtun is the largest and most politically powerful ethnic group in Afghanistan. They have historically dominated the political scene. Hazaras only account for fifteen percent of Afghan population.
They are reportedly ranked very low in relative ethnic status. (Li Chonglv, 1980) Hassan was regarded a Hazara boy. He was despised by the local children. His blue eyes flicked to Hassan, “Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our Homeland, our water. They dirty our blood. ” He made a sweeping, grandiose gesture with his hands, “Afghanistan for Pashtuns, I say. That’s my vision. ”(Hosseini, Chapter 4) He was always treated as an outsider, not only by the thugs but also Amir, his friend.
He was describe by Amir using the words “harelip”, “flat nose” and “the one eats mice” Amir felt guilty when he watched Hassan being raped in the alley, but he comforted himself that Hassan was just a Hazara boy, his servant. In Amir’s eyes, Hassan was not important, compared to Baba’s approval, and his sacrifice was worth it. Even his death can blame on the racial discrimination. When he grew up, Hassan went back to the house. But Taliban soldiers said that he was Hazara and unworthy of owning the beautiful big house. Hassan didn’t go out of the house and was shot.
Although saying that Hassan was Hazara may only be Taliban’s excuse for taking the house, Hassan died for part of this reason. Racial discrimination ran through Hassan’s life. He suffered a lot and even died for it. It was the immediate cause of his death. 4. 3. 1. 2 The fault of parents Hassan was nominally born in a Hazara family, but he was actually Baba’s son. Baba committed adultery with Ali’s wife Sanaubar. He dared not face with his betrayal to his friend, Ali. Also, he wants to protect his reputation. Thus, he didn’t admit Hassan as his son even when he saw Hassan doing heavy works and being laughed at by others.
Baba did not undertake this relationship in any ways. Hassan’s mother Sanaubar was a beautiful but notoriously unscrupulous woman. When she found that Hassan was a hare lipped child, she abandoned him and leaved the family with some barnstormers. (Li Jing, 2009) Hassan was not told that he has Pashtun blood in his body till his death. He regarded himself as a Hazara and a servant, keep sacrificing for Amir. Facing racial discrimination and the other unfair stuffs, Hassan was always in silence as Ali. The irresponsibility of Hassan’s parents had led to Hassan’s suffering in racial discrimination.
It can be concluded as the underlying cause of Hassan’s tragedy. 4. 3. 2 The intrinsic reason: Hassan’s servility “For you, a thousand times over. ” It is the most famous line in the novel that Hassan promised to Amir. Readers are impressed by Hassan’s loyalty and love for Amir. But it can be regarded as servility from another aspect. Hassan had never refused Amir’s request, even unreasonable ones. Once, Amir asked Hassan whether he would eat muds if he asked him to do so. Hassan answered yes. Ask one to eat muds today is a sign of disrespect. Hassan admitted it because he thought he was Inferior to others.
He thought he should do what Amir told him to do, because Amir was his master. Hassan was raped just because he wanted to protect the kite of Amir, the kite that may help Amir gain Baba’s approval. Hassan suffered the most severe humiliation of Afghan men. But at the time he was being rapped, there is a “glimpse” in his face. The “resignation” could be seen on his face, and it was a look of “the lamb”. These are weird behaviors. Hassan has lost his dignity and his sense as an individual. Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our steps on the same lawn in the same yard.
And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words Mine was Baba His was Amir, my name. (Hosseini, Chapter 2) Hassan’s first word was Amir, which means Amir was the most important one in his life. Amir was his “psychological mother”. He was desired for his love. Thus, he dared not do things against Amir’s will. Even when Amir asked him to be the scapegoat, he accepted. Hassan had done a lot more than a friend and a servant. He was sacrificing his life to Amir. Excessive loyalty for Amir is a kind of servility. Hassan had set himself as a belonging of Amir. This ignorant boy was subconsciously taught what should do and what shouldn’t.
He was told a Hazara should be loyalty to his master and a Pashtun shouldn’t take any risk for his servant. (Jiang Xiaoqing, 2009) If Hassan didn’t think he was inferior to others and respected himself, he could have escaped from most of the pain he suffered no matter whether he was a Hazara. He could have given the kite to Assef so that he wouldn’t be raped. He could have disclosed Amir’s evildoing so that he wouldn’t have to leave. He could have left the house when Taliban came so that he wouldn’t die. The root reason of Hassan’s tragedy is not that he was a Hazara. It was his servility that killed him.
And it was the servility of the Hazara nation that kept them in a lower status for a long time. 5. Conclusion Hassan’s story was a tragedy. He was a victim of his parents’ fault, of the racial discrimination and of his servility deep in mind. The first two factors are the extrinsic factors that are out of his control. Because of his parents’ fault, he was wrongly regarded as a Hazara and thus, suffered from the racial discrimination. Taliban soldiers shot him for the reason that he, a Hazara, could not own the beautiful house. The racial discrimination is the immediate reason of his death.
Hassan’s servility is the intrinsic factor. It is the essential reason of Hassan’s tragedy, as the other two would not have worked if it did not exist. This essay only analyzes three factors that have impacts on the tragedy. There might be some other factors, such as Amir and Hassan’s relationship, the education given to Hassan, and Baba’s attitude towards Hassan. The tragedy is multifactorial. Hassan is a sacrificial lamb. By analyzing the causes of his tragedy, we can learn more the servility and insecurity that hide in the depth of human’s heart about as well as the culture and history of Afghanistan.
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