The Kite Runner

Chapter 17

Why have Baba, Ali, and Rahim Khan lied to Hassan and Amir all these years?

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Your answer has everything to do with family relations and tradition. The topics of secrets and family ties converge and come to a climax in Chapter Seventeen, when Rahim Khan finally reveals to Amir that Hassan was his half-brother. Amir is furious because suddenly the way he treated Hassan and Ali seems all the more wrong. The concept of "brother" is much stronger to him than the concept of "servant-best-friend" whereas Hassan had treated him like a brother no matter what. As Amir says, "Hassan had loved me once, loved me in a way that no one ever had or ever would again." Amir's reaction to the news reveals how important family ties are anywhere, but in Afghanistan particularly. As General Taheri says in Chapter Thirteen, "People [in America] marry for love, family name and ancestry never even come into the equation. But we are Afghans." Among Afghans, one's family line determines much about how one's life will proceed, from whether one will be literate to whom one will marry.