What objects do you associate innocence with? Marriage, virginity, a childhood toy? When we think of dominance we think of war; we think of negativity. When the phrase ‘parental influence’ comes to mind, we go to our mothers tucking us into bed and watching the game with our fathers—at least that is what us lucky ones think of. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that innocence stored forever, violent free lives, and a mother and father by our side.
The Kite Runner and Lord of the Flies have many similarities, particularly when comparing themes such as loss of innocence, power and dominance, and paternal influences and the ways in which they are depicted through symbolism and irony. From the beginning of The Kite Runner Hoseinni showed innocence through Amir’s passion and longing for kites, but not any kite; Amir longed for the winning kite in the annual kite flying tournament. Kites were constantly present during Amir’s childhood. They were his goodness and his purity; the goodness and purity of Afghanistan at that time.
Amir’s innocence was stolen by him when he was twelve-years-old by the neighborhood bully, Assef. Amir longed for the winning kite, but at the expense of his friend, Hassan: “But there were two things amid the garbage that I couldn’t stop looking at: One was the blue kite resting against the wall,” (75). Amir witnessed the rape of Hassan, and after he took his trophy kite home and hung it up on the wall it mocked him, reminding him of his cowardice, and the purity and the innocence that were taken from him. When Amir returned to Kabul as an adult there were no kites.
Afghanistan had been run over by the Taliban and everything had been destroyed, just like the innocence that was taken by Amir and the goodness and that was stolen from him. In The Kite Runner, Amir wanted the winning kite. After witnessing the rape of Hassan—witnessing his beloved friend sacrifice himself for the first place kite and seeing Kabul in ruin with the kites gone and the tournaments ended, he craves the innocence and goodness of his past. In Lord of the Flies, Golding used symbols very similarly to Hoseinni’s use of the kite as a symbol of innocence.
Instead of an object or toy, Golding used Simon to show purity. Simon, the quiet and kind hearted boy, was murdered savagely by his peers. Simon had been the good and the innocent on the island; unlike the other boys he knew that the evil was inside of the others, though he himself had been too good for the evil. Simon was taken away from the boys but not by outsiders, like the Taliban; the boys themselves took Simon away, unlike The Kite Runner where Assef and the Taliban took the innocence away from Amir. “There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (153).
The boys turned into savages and took Simon away from themselves. Unlike The Kite Runner, Simon and innocence were not wanted and were easily thrown away. As goodness was being murdered, the boys turned into monsters. Not once did they think of what was being depleted. Another theme shared by the two novels is the idea of power and dominance. In The Kite Runner, Hoseinni showed this through the bully Assef, who later became a Taliban official. Not only did Hoseinni use Assef and the Taliban as symbols of power, but he enforced them through irony.
One example of dramatic irony in The Kite Runner took place when Baba was talking to Amir as a child. Baba said to him, “’God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands! ’” (17). Baba was referring to the Taliban and how he hoped they would never come into power, though consequently, the Taliban later dominate Afghanistan. Baba pleads to God for help if the Taliban run over, he pleads to a God that he doesn’t necessarily believe in, and ironically, the Taliban justify all of their actions with the word of God. Likewise, Golding used Jack and his hunters to illustrate power and dominance in Lord of the Flies.
In order to assert their dominance Jack and his hunters murdered the pig in an ostentatious manner thinking that being flashy and strong will bring respect. Not only did Jack allege his power through conspicuous hunting acts, but he also imposed power with his violent mannerisms towards Ralph, Piggy, and the others. Jack is not the only power figure in this story. In turn, the British official that appeared to rescue the boys has a stature of power along with the British army. Golding expressed his love of irony with the British soldier on the island as well.
The boys had been creating their own war on the island, and they were, in a way, mimicking the war that had been happening on a world-wide scale. Golding did not stop here, as the British soldier then observed the boys savagery, he reprimanded them for not being more proper and British. “’I should have thought that a pack of British boys—you’re all British, aren’t you? —would have been able to put up a better show than that—‘” (202). How ironic, that despite the soldier’s talk of being proper and “English,” he too was being a savage. He too, was in the middle of a war.
Not only do The Kite Runner and Lord of the Flies share themes of innocence and power, but they both partake in the lack of positive parental influence. In The Kite Runner, Amir envied the father-son relationship that Hassan and his believed-to-be-father, Ali, shared. Like his stolen innocence, Amir yearned for his father’s approval, for these were the things he could not have. “He’d close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups’ time with him” (5). Here, Hoseinni clearly illustrates that as growing up, and even as an adult, Amir never received the love and the affection that he so craved from his father.
At every turn he would find a closed door; Baba would see Amir as a calamity. The one person who gave Amir positive parental influence was his father’s friend and business partner, Rahim Kahn. Amir did not take this influence to heart; his longing for approval from Baba and a mother he did not have created a hole that Rahim Kahn could not fill. With a deceased mother and apathetic father, Amir had a deep hunger for a father figure to such a degree that the lack of a parental influence caused self destruction and mental instability. In contrast to The Kite Runner, the boys in Lord of the Flies did not care for paternal influences as Amir did.
In fact, they rejoiced because there were no adults on the island to keep them in check; “’Aren’t there any grownups at all? ’ ‘I don’t think so. ’ The fair boy said this solemnly; but then delight of a realized ambition overcame him’” (8). From the start, Amir wanted the parental influences that he grew up without; the boys on the island were more than happy to be rid of them. The consequences of the lack of parental influence did not make an appearance right away, but contrary to what the boys believed, not having a parental figure did have its repercussions.
One can take Roger, in consideration. At first he could not bring himself to throw stones at the smaller, younger boys. The memories of civilization and punishments still had their hold on him, but as the story progresses, Roger finds himself becoming less and less humane; much like Assef, in The Kite Runner, who as a child, subconsciously knew he could be punished for his bullying, but as he grew older and as the influence of his parents lessened, he was able to use his wrath however he pleased.
The lack of parental influence in Lord of the Flies through the immature, adolescent behavior of the boys and lack of adults residing on the island leads to destruction and chaos, similar in ways to that of Amir’s, but far more externally dramatic. Indeed, Golding and Hoseinni share many tastes when it comes to writing, and that becomes quite apparent when one looks at the themes of the two novels. Through the loss of innocence, power and dominance, and the lack of those positive parental influences Golding and Hoseinni manage to paint the picture of a life different than the life of the average American youth.
Amir kept his innocence in a kite. In his homeland. The boys on the island never knew that their innocence lay within one small boy. They didn’t have a father to look up to, a mother to run to, and neither did Amir. Now, innocence is mocked. Parental figures are pushed away, but most don’t know what it is like to lose that innocence. To not have a mother or father there in times of need. Where is your innocence stored? Where do you find the comfort and protection that are craved through a mother’s love and a father’s adoring pride?