Beyond Binary Narratives: Gender and Sexuality in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

  • Shamna Nasreen
Keywords: Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, gender, sexuality, Afghanistan, masculinity, femininity, homosexuality, societal expectations, cultural traditions


This academic paper explores the portrayal of gender and sexuality in Khaled Hosseini's novel The Kite Runner. The novel is set in Afghanistan, a country where gender roles are clearly defined and homosexuality is taboo. Through the complex and multifaceted characters of Amir, Hassan, Assef, and Soraya, Hosseini challenges traditional ideas about gender and sexuality.

The protagonist Amir is portrayed as a sensitive and emotional boy who does not fit neatly into traditional ideas of masculinity. In contrast, Hassan is portrayed as a strong and brave young boy who enjoys sewing and embroidery, traditionally feminine activities. The character of Assef challenges traditional ideas about sexuality by being attracted to other men, despite the severe punishment for homosexuality in Afghan society. The character of Soraya defies tradition by running away with a man before marrying Amir, portraying women as strong and independent. Hosseini's portrayal of gender and sexuality challenges traditional binary narratives and shows the complexities of gender and sexuality in a society heavily influenced by tradition and religion. This paper argues that The Kite Runner sheds light on the impact of societal expectations and cultural traditions on individuals and highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of gender.


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Author Biography

Shamna Nasreen

Shamna Nasreen recently completed her Master's degree in English Language and Literature from the Department of English at the University of Calicut Campus. After completing her Masters, she worked in two colleges. She has recently qualified in the National Eligibility Test. 

She writes poems and stories.


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How to Cite
Nasreen, S. “Beyond Binary Narratives: Gender and Sexuality in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner”. Contemporary Literary Review India, Vol. 10, no. 1, Feb. 2023, pp. 171-80,
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