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Art has always produced works with comparable works. The fact behind this is that although fictitious, art, and more so literature is a result of the encounters in the lives of the authors. It is therefore common to have works that have closely related themes and topics. A perfect example is the comparison of the topics presented in the books “The unbearable lightness of being” and “The Kite Runner”. This paper compares among others the themes; invasion/war, change of the identity of the main character country, relationships (family/friends), attitude towards marriage, sexuality, betrayal, and racial and social differential. The paper aims at providing evidence on how related topics of different novels can be.
Concept of eternal recurrence
The novel The unbearable lightness of being’s main objective is to counter the concept of eternal recurrence. It states that each person lives only once and that events in life are not repetitive but rather occurs once. It presents the events surrounding Tomas the novel’s protagonist. His family love relationship, career, and residence. This theme is so evident in that even though there are a lot of love relationships in the novel there is not even one that is identical to another.
While Tomas looks at love as a leisure activity, the romance in Franz is from the much he has read in the books. On the other hand, Sabina involves Tomas in infidelity just for fun. She enjoys humiliation and thus takes life with simplicity. Never does she ever think of the reoccurrence of the past events. This is to show how much she does not believe in the reoccurrence of events in life.
The case in Tomas changes when he later notices that his wife meant a lot to her and thus follows her when she leaves her (Hosseini, 2007). He is depicted in the novel as an un-predictive character.
Similarly, in “The Kite Runner,” the betrayal that is so recurrent as later explained in this paper, repeats itself differently each time. The events that cause the betrayal cannot review and even where the afflicted feels the zeal to revenge they cannot. When Amir reveals that he was been betrayed by Ali, he decides to search for Sohrab a virtue as compared to the betrayal. The concept of eternal recurrence that is countered mostly shows persons who are affected by a phenomenon passing the pain down the line by inflicting as much pain if not more on others.
In both books, the country of the main character is being invaded. According to the rule of eternal recurrence, the wars should have the same features. However, the way both the wars occur and how the people behave also prove that the occurrences can never be the same and thus Kundera’s point is proven.
Hosseini, Khaled presents the events that happen when a beautiful country is invaded by war through the friendship of two boys who were very close and lived like brothers yet each lived in his world. Dubbed as a very controversial novel, The Kite Runner has elicited many debates in the literary world (Kundera, 1985).
Love and relationships
The Kite Runner presents us with a clear picture of family relationships where we see Amir longing for his father’s affection to the extent that he betrays his childhood friend Hassan who his father seems to love and adore more than his son Amir. On the other hand, Amir met his wife Soraya and the two gets married and start their family. Baba, Amir’s father relates well with Hassan who he adores and takes the secret to the grave that indeed he was the father to Amir.
This brings a different focus to the reader over how Baba relates to the two boys because both boys are his blood. He even sends Hassan together with his Ali who was believed to be Hassan’s father and when Baba escapes the war in Afghan, he only escapes with Amir and leaves his other son behind.
This is very controversial for we would expect that Baba would take his two sons to America but this is not the case. On the night of the kite tournament, Amir is very nervous and not because of the tournament but because his father was supporting him and would watch the tournament from the rooftop of their house. There is also a lot of tension between father and sons (Amir and Baba) to the extent that Amir even wonders whether his father would be proud of him if he competed in a kite tournament and failed.
The theme of family relations is also brought out in the novel, The Kite Runner through the way Baba related to Ali and Hassan and his son Amir. Though Hassan and Ali were servants and belonged to a minority race in the Afghan community, they used to live together as one family. He considered Hassan as his son but never told him that he was his son.
The theme of betrayal
The theme of betrayal in the two novels is depicted from two different dimensions. Betrayal between lovers, husbands, and wives included and betrayal between friends that is between Hassan and Amir and Rahim Khan and Baba. Betrayal in the novel, The Kite Runner is a dominant theme. Baba first of all betrays Amir by not telling him that his treasured and closest childhood friend is actually his half brother and he does this deliberately and not because he did not know.
Baba also propagates betrayal by also not telling Hassan that he was his biological father. There is a complete shift in how Baba relates to his two boys. Ali also plays a part in the betrayal process by not telling his Hassan that he could not bear children and therefore he was not his father (Kundera, 1985).
The theme of betrayal is at its best in the novel when Amir betrays Hassan who is his most loyal friend for betrayal also takes into account not helping or deliberately choosing to take a back seat in times of need. Amir does not stand up to help Hassan when Hassan is bullied by Assef. In this context, Amir can be called a betrayer for he prefers to watch from a distance when his friend Hassan is being molested rather than return the same favor that Hassan also did for him, that is of defending him.
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Amir also betrays Hassan by implicating him that he stole money and a watch. Amir took advantage of the fact that his father hated stealing, “there is no act more wretched than stealing” and therefore Hassan and Ali leave Baba’s house in the attempt that Amir would stop feeling guilty for not being man enough and stand for Hassan and that he would eliminate the threat Hassan posed for Baba’s affection (Hosseini, 2007). Betrayal is evident where Rahim Khan tells Amir that Hassan was his half brother. He unearths a secret Baba chose to be buried with and therefore he betrays Baba though he betrays him when he had already died (Kundera, 1985).
Change of identity of the main character country
In contrast, betrayal in The Kite Runner, Amir is not happy with the way he betrayed his childhood friend Hassan but in the novel, The unbearable Lightness of Being, the characters involved, Sabina and Tomas seem to enjoy betraying their loved ones in that Sabina knows that Tomas is married and Tomas knows that his wife Tereza is getting hurt over his love affairs but continues in his endeavors. Sabina is depicted in the novel as a character that enjoys humiliation and therefore it is not a surprise that she enjoys her affair with Tomas, a married man.
In the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, betrayal is seen when Tomas who is married to Tereza out rightly betrays his wife through having many mistresses. Tomas betrays his wife though he knows that Tereza suffers because of his womanizing character. Sabina also is betraying his lover Franz (Hosseini, 2007).
Love stands out as also one of the major themes in the two novels. Tomas, though having many mistresses only loved his wife and the reason why he chose to go after her when she left him. It is a pointer that his womanizing character could not take away the love he had for his wife. On the other hand, Baba had a profound love for Amir and Hassan. He loved them just the way a father would love his son.
However, Amir’s insecurities with his father were only to get affection to form him, and doing what would make his father happy for Baba wanted him to be manlier like Hassan. Love, in the Running Kite, is also propagated by Amir who married Soraya, because he loved her even though Soraya was deemed unfit for marriage by Afghan traditions. This is because she had eloped with her previous boyfriend. It is only love that made Amir defy societal norms and marry Soraya.
Through the characters in the two novels, we get a glimpse of society’s attitude towards marriage. Tomas is married and yet has mistresses in the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. To him, marriage is something that cannot bond him from having love affairs with other women. This is also seen in the other novel, The Running Kite, where Baba gets a child with his servant, meaning he did not respect his legal wife because they were married (Kundera, 1985).
Though the picture painted of marriage is from the men’s perspective, this shows that society allows men to have many women. To the society, Soraya after escaping with her former boyfriend is seen by the community as not worthy of marriage, but the views of the community are not expressed of whether the boyfriend is also fit for marriage for escaping with Soraya. This shows that Afghan society has a feeling that men especially married should be left to do whatever they feel like doing without question and Baba further supports the point through having a child with his servant. Society also views marriage as sacred and this is seen through the way Amir and Hassan marry showing that marriage is highly upheld in society.
The theme that also comes out evidently in both books is the change of identity of the main character country. In the book, The Kite Runner Afghanistan is invaded by the Soviet Union. This prompts the rise of the Taliban who later seek to control the people. They become the unofficial government. We even see them taking possession of other people’s properties and those who defy the orders face the consequences. Hassan is one of the persons who get affected by this. He is ordered by the Taliban to surrender the house that they lived with khan when khan returns to Pakistan. Hassan defiles the order and was executed alongside Farzana (Kundera, 1985). During the time of war, there was no room given for reconciliation.
Similarly, in the novel, The unbearable lightness of being the character Franz believes in the theories that he has read in books. This leads him to get involved in marches and protests in Thailand Cambodia and Bangkok. The marches and protests do a lot of harm to the residents and the protestors themselves. This affects even Franz who is badly bruised in the Bangkok protest (Hosseini, 2007).
These events from both books show how much war and disorder can bring deterioration in both the economy of the country and the welfare of the residents. The change which is aftermath changes superior men into low-class individuals like the way Tomas leaves his work as a surgeon after the Russian invasion in The unbearable lightness of being and general Taheri humble life who was a former top official in the Afghanistan government. These wars change the relationships and eventually frame new relationships. Both of the books present the negative side of the war.
The theme of racism is also brought out in both of the novels. The book The Kite Runner contradicts racism by bringing out Amir and Hassan who are from different ethnic groups; Pashtun and Hazara are represented by Amir and Hassan respectively. By tradition, Pashtuns are part of Sunni Muslims while the Hazaras are part of Shi’a Muslims.
This joins the theme of ethnicity and that of religion in the novel. Amir does not seem to be sorry for the fact that his kinsmen have made it impossible for the livelihood of Hazara to the extent of being seldom to find Hazara in the books. The actions of Amir also are an act of racism. In other persons we see Sanaubar using harsh description towards Ali just because of tribal differences. She says “I have seen old donkeys better suited to be a husband” (Kundera, 1985)
On the other hand, the novel The unbearable lightness of being the theory comes out so vividly. One of the main characters- Tomas- is a Czech communist and bases most of his arguments on his communistic stand even his relationship with his girlfriend and wife. The book intertwines the theme of racism and that of politics. The events that follow the Russian invasion show that most people feel more comfortable working alongside their kinsmen. This is partly why Tomas decides to follow his wife rather than stick with Sabina (Hosseini, 2007). The presentation on racism shows how themes are easily merged. Racism is merged with religion in one context and with politics in another context.
In conclusion, the themes that are presented in these two great novels are comparable in many themes that could not be fully tackled in this limited space. Though the plot and the settings of the novel are different, the themes that are tackled have a lot of relevance in both the settings. It is not worth that these two books are having over twenty years difference in their production yet the issues that they present have a similarity. This proves the timeliness of art. It is argued that any artistic work should over live the author.
These two books cannot be said to be the only ones that can be compared, these features are common in almost all artistic works. It is however paramount to note here that some themes appear as main themes in one book while others appear as minor themes in the other novel. For example, the theme of politics is more evident in the novel The Kite Runner than it is in The unbearable lightness of being. Similarly, some titles come out more clearly in some settings than in other settings. The theme of racism is best seen in the time of invasion than at any other point in both the novels.
Hosseini, K. (2007). The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books.
Kundera, M. (1985). The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Toronto: 68 Publishers.