Identity, Ethnic Conflict and Gendered Violence in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns


Author: Dr. Md Abu Shahid Abdullah (Assistant Professor, Dept. of English, East West University)
Speaker: Dr. Md Abu Shahid Abdullah
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The CALA 2022 General Session


Abstract

In the political and social turmoil of the past three decades, Afghan writers have created a body of almost a homeless literature, which portrays the predicament of their countrymen — both male and female. Novels in Afghanistan depict the social, political and personal realities in full detail. My presentation aims to portray the ethnic conflict, violence against women and the notion of individual, cultural and national identity in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. In The Kite Runner, the author shows the cultural clash between different characters based on ethnic discrimination. The Hazara, a minority group in Afghanistan, is hated by every Pashtun. Even, the Taliban killed the Hazara people and took their children to orphanages. This ethnic discrimination creates and legitimises Amir’s own sense of superiority and his act of injustice to his friend Hassan, a Hazara boy. A Thousand Splendid Suns portrays the marginalisation of women thorough various social, political and religious constraints placed upon them and in during violent situations like the Soviet occupation and the Civil War under the dictatorship of the Taliban. The novel follows the lives of two female characters Mariam and Laila who are tortured physically, sexually, and emotionally by their husbands which make them lose hope in life and create a sort of identity crisis in them. Apart from this, Hosseini’s both novels shed light on a series of war, bombing, destruction, and struggle for survival, and show the impact of these events on the life and identity of the Afghan people, particularly Afghan women.

Keywords: Identity, ethnic conflict, gendered violence, patriarchy