Explanation of Postmodernism & The Kite Runner, Ch. 24


What is Postmodernism?

The Scream, Edvard Munch (1893-1910)


Postmodern literature is a form of literature which is marked, both stylistically and ideologically, by a reliance on such literary conventions as fragmentation, paradox, unreliable narrators, often unrealistic and downright impossible plots, games, parody, paranoia, dark humor and authorial self-reference. Postmodern authors tend to reject outright meanings in their novels, stories and poems, and, instead, highlight and celebrate the possibility of multiple meanings, or a complete lack of meaning, within a single literary work.

Postmodern literature also often rejects the boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms of art and literature, as well as the distinctions between different genres and forms of writing and storytelling. Here are some examples of stylistic techniques that are often used in postmodern literature:

  • Pastiche: The taking of various ideas from previous writings and literary styles and pasting them together to make new styles.
  • Intertextuality: The acknowledgment of previous literary works within another literary work.
  • Metafiction: The act of writing about writing or making readers aware of the fictional nature of the very fiction they’re reading (The continuity of parks, Cortázar; Poe Posthumous: or The Light-House/EDickinsonRepliLuxe, Oats).
  • Temporal Distortion: The use of non-linear timelines and narrative techniques in a story.
  • Minimalism: The use of characters and events which are decidedly common and non-exceptional characters.
  • Maximalism: Disorganized, lengthy, highly detailed writing.
  • Magical Realism: The introduction of impossible or unrealistic events into a narrative that is otherwise realistic (100 years of Solitud, García-Márquez).
  • Faction: The mixing of actual historical events with fictional events without clearly defining what is factual and what is fictional (The Kite Runner, Hosseini).
  • Reader Involvement: Often through direct address to the reader and the open acknowledgment of the fictional nature of the events being described.

Many critics and scholars find it best to define postmodern literature against the popular literary style that came before it: modernism. In many ways, postmodern literary styles and ideas serve to dispute, reverse, mock and reject the principles of modernist literature.

For example, instead of following the standard modernist literary quest for meaning in a chaotic world, postmodern literature tends to eschew (avoid), often playfully, the very possibility of meaning. The postmodern novel, story or poem is often presented as a parody of the modernist literary quest for meaning. Thomas Pynchon’s postmodern novel The Crying of Lot 49 is a perfect example of this. In this novel, the protagonist’s quest for knowledge and understanding results ultimately in confusion and the lack of any sort of clear understanding of the events that transpired.

Postmodern Philosophy

Postmodern literature serves as a reaction to the supposed stylistic and ideological limitations of modernist literature and the radical changes the world underwent after the end of World War II. While modernist literary writers often depicted the world as fragmented, troubled and on the edge of disaster, which is best displayed in the stories and novels of such modernist authors as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Albert Camus, Virginia Woolf and Thomas Mann, postmodern authors tend to depict the world as having already undergone countless disasters and being beyond redemption or understanding.

For many postmodern writers, the various disasters that occurred in the last half of the 20th century left a number of writers with a profound sense of paranoia. They also gave them an awareness of the possibility of utter disaster and apocalypse on the horizon. The notion of locating precise meanings and reasons behind any event became seen as impossible.

Postmodern literary writers have also been greatly influenced by various movements and ideas taken from postmodern philosophy. Postmodern philosophy tends to conceptualize the world as being impossible to strictly define or understand. Postmodern philosophy argues that knowledge and facts are always relative to particular situations and that it’s both futile (useless) and impossible to attempt to locate any precise meaning to any idea, concept or event.

Postmodern philosophy tends to renounce the possibility of ‘grand narratives’ and, instead, argues that all belief systems and ideologies are developed for the express purpose of controlling others and maintaining particular political and social systems. The postmodern philosophical perspective is pretty cynical and takes nothing that is presented at face value or as being legitimate.

Adapted from: http://study.com/academy/practice/quiz-worksheet-postmodernism-in-literature.html



Rahim Khan always knew…

Amirjan, _Inshallah_, you have reached this letter safely. I pray that I have not put you in harm’s way and that Afghanistan has not been too unkind to you. You have been in my prayers since the day you left. You were right all those years to suspect that I knew. I did know. Hassan told me shortly after it happened. What you did was wrong, Amir jan, but do not forget that you were a boy when it happened. A troubled little boy. You were too hard on yourself then, and you still are–I saw it in your eyes in Peshawar. But I hope you will heed this: A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer. I hope your suffering comes to an end with this journey to Afghanistan. (p. 164)


End of Chapter 24

“Sohrab!” I called, rising from my bed. “I have great news.” I knocked on the bathroom door. “Sohrab! Soraya jan just called from California. We won’t have to put you in the orphanage, Sohrab. We’re going to America, you and I. Did you hear me? We’re going to America!”
I pushed the door open. Stepped into the bathroom.
Suddenly I was on my knees, screaming. Screaming through my clenched teeth. Screaming until I thought my throat would rip and my chest explode.
Later, they said I was still screaming when the ambulance arrived. (p. 191)

Chapter 24 (audiobook)

Homework: Finish the book. Also, choose one of the following stories by Joyce Carol Oates and read it:

NEXT ASSESSMENT: 3rd assessment American

The Kite Runner, Ch. 22 and review of the Taliban rules: “It was set then… 3 o’clock”



Let’s review the Taliban rules regarding males and females:

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After reading these rules… which one(s) violate the following Universal Human Rights?

  • Right to life, liberty, personal security
  • Right to education
  • Right to remedy by competent tribunal
  • Right to fair public hearing
  • Freedom of belief and religion
  • Freedom of opinion and information
  • Right to peaceful assembly and association
  • Right to rest and leisure


Take a look at the punishments for breaking the Taliban rules. What do you think about this human right?

“Freedom from torture and degrading treatment”


Women for Afghan Women




Read chapters 22 and 23.

The Kite Runner, Ch. 20 and review – “Baba and I were more alike than I’d ever known”

Review of previous chapters

Amir agha,

Alas the Afghanistan of our youth is long dead. Kindness is gone from the land and you cannot escape the killings. Always the killings. In Kabul, fear is everywhere, in the streets, in the stadium, in the markets, it is a part of our lives here, Amir agha. The savages who rule our watan don’t care about human decency. The other day, I accompanied Farzana Jan to the bazaar to buy some potatoes and _naan_. She asked the vendor how much the potatoes cost, but he did not hear her, I think he had a deaf ear. So she asked louder and suddenly a young Talib ran over and hit her on the thighs with his wooden stick. He struck her so hard she fell down. He was screaming at her and cursing and saying the Ministry of Vice and Virtue does not allow women to speak loudly. She had a large purple bruise on her leg for days but what could I do except stand and watch my wife get beaten? If I fought, that dog would have surely put a bullet in me, and gladly! Then what would happen to my Sohrab? The streets are full enough already of hungry orphans and every day I thank Allah that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.
I wish you could see Sohrab. He is a good boy. Rahim Khan sahib and I have taught him to read and write so he does not grow up stupid like his father. And can he shoot with that slingshot! I take Sohrab around Kabul sometimes and buy him candy. There is still a monkey man in Shar-e Nau and if we run into him, I pay him to make his monkey dance for Sohrab. You should see how he laughs! The two of us often walk up to the cemetery on the hill. Do you remember how we used to sit under the pomegranate tree there and read from the _Shahnamah_? The droughts have dried the hill and the tree hasn’t borne fruit in years, but Sohrab and I still sit under its shade and I read to him from the _Shahnamah_. It is not necessary to tell you that his favorite part is the one with his namesake, Rostam and Sohrab. Soon he will be able to read from the book himself. I am a very proud and very lucky father. (p. 117)

Amir agha,
Rahim Khan sahib is quite ill. He coughs all day and I see blood on his sleeve when he wipes his mouth. He has lost much weight and I wish he would eat a little of the shorwa and rice that Farzana Jan cooks for him. But he only takes a bite or two and even that I think is out of courtesy to Farzana jan. I am so worried about this dear man I pray for him every day. He is leaving for Pakistan in a few days to consult some doctors there and, _Inshallah_, he will return with good news. But in my heart I fear for him. Farzana jan and I have told little Sohrab that Rahim Khan sahib is going to be well. What can we do? He is only ten and he adores Rahim Khan sahib. They have grown so close to each other. Rahim Khan sahib used to take him to the bazaar for balloons and biscuits but he is too weak for that now.
I have been dreaming a lot lately, Amir agha. Some of them are nightmares, like hanged corpses rotting in soccer fields with bloodred grass. I wake up from those short of breath and sweaty. Mostly, though, I dream of good things, and praise Allah for that. I dream that Rahim Khan sahib will be well. I dream that
my son will grow up to be a good person, a free person, and an important person. I dream that lawla flowers will bloom in the streets of Kabul again and rubab music will play in the samovar houses and kites will fly in the skies. And I dream that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you.
May Allah be with you always.
-Hassan (p.118)

“Why me? Why can’t you pay someone here to go? I’ll pay for it if it’s a matter of money.”
“It isn’t about money, Amir!” Rahim Khan roared. “I’m a dying man and I will not be insulted! It has never been about money with me, you know that. And why you? I think we both know why it has to be you, don’t we?”
I didn’t want to understand that comment, but I did. I understood it all too well. “I have a wife in America, a home, a career, and a family. Kabul is a dangerous (p.119)

Life Under The Taliban, in Afghanistan (2010)

  • How were women affected during the Taliban regime?
  • What happened with the museum of Kabul?
  • How many Zoo animals survived the Taliban rule?

Chapter 20

Homework for Wednesday 26th of August: Chapter 21


The Kite Runner, CH. 15

Today, we will watch a lecture by Khaled Hosseini, the writer of “The Kite Runner”. As you watch, answer the questions below.


1.- What does Hosseini say about the “act of writing”?
2.- What is special about Math textbooks in Hosseini’s view?
3.- Has Khaled come back to Afghanistan?
4.- Why would Hosseini’s father want to hang a picture of Ronald Reagan in his home?
5.- What motivated Hosseini to write a short story about Kite flying?
6.- Why other Afghan writers are not so popular as he is?

Chapter 13 review

“She rested her head on the window and said nothing else the rest of the way.
Now the general sat beside her. “Bachem, this adoption… thing, I’m not so sure it’s for us Afghans.” Soraya looked at me tiredly and sighed.” p. 102-103.

Chapter 14 review

“Come. There is a way to be good again, Rahim Khan had said on the phone just before hanging up. Said it in passing, almost as an afterthought.
A way to be good again”. p. 105

“I lay in the dark the night Rahim Khan called and traced with my eyes the parallel silver lines on the wall made by moonlight pouring through the blinds. At some point, maybe just before dawn, I drifted to sleep. And dreamed of Hassan running in the snow, the hem of his green chapan dragging behind him, snow crunching under his black rubber boots. He was yelling over his shoulder: For you, a thousand times over!” p. 106

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

The Kite Runner, CH. 13

Review of Ch. 12

The visit with the pulmonologist, Dr. Schneider, was going well until Baba asked

him where he was from. Dr. Schneider said Russia. Baba lost it.

“Excuse us, Doctor,” I said, pulling Baba aside. Dr. Schneider smiled and stood

back, stethoscope still in hand.

“Baba, I read Dr. Schneider’s biography in the waiting room. He was born in

Michigan. Michigan! He’s American, a lot more American than you and I will ever


“I don’t care where he was born, he’s Roussi,” Baba said, grimacing like it was

a dirty word. “His parents were Roussi, his grandparents were Roussi. I swear on

your mother’s face I’ll break his arm if he tries to touch me.”

“Dr. Schneider’s parents fled from Shorawi, don’t you see? They escaped!”

But Baba would hear none of it. Sometimes I think the only thing he loved as

much as his late wife was Afghanistan, his late country. I almost screamed with

frustration. Instead, I sighed and turned to Dr. Schneider. “I’m sorry, Doctor.

This isn’t going to work out.” (p. 84)


I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with. I opened my mouth and

almost told her how I’d betrayed Hassan, lied, driven him out, and destroyed a

forty-year relationship between Baba and Ali. But I didn’t. I suspected there

were many ways in which Soraya Taheri was a better person than me. Courage was

just one of them. (p. 91)


Video about the most recent political changes in Afghanistan since 1978

Answer these questions:

1.- Who was Mohammed Daoud Khan?
2.- What happened in Afghanistan in 1978?
3.- How many Muslim nations adopted the resolution for the withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan?
4.- Name 3 countries that supported the Mujaheddin.
5.- In what year did the last Russian troop leave the country?


Chapter 13



Homework: Finish Chapter 13 and 14

Chapter 9 of the Kite Runner

After reading Chapter 9, we will watch how this chapter was adapted to the movie and we will compare the visions of both, writer and director. Also, we will not read, but watch Chapter 10 which shows the Soviet coup and escape of Baba and Amir from Afghanistan towards California, USA. (Movie: minutes 42 to 52).

What differences and similarities are there between the book and the movie?

How will life be for Amir and Baba in America?

HOMEWORK: Read chapters 11 and 12.