What objects are typically associated with innocence? Is it marriage, virginity, or perhaps a childhood toy? When dominance is mentioned, our minds immediately go to war and all its negativity. Similarly, when we think of “parental influence,” we envision our mothers tucking us into bed and watching sports games with our fathers – at least those of us who are fortunate enough to have experienced such innocence-filled lives, unmarred by violence, and with both a mother and father by our side.
Both The Kite Runner and Lord of the Flies share many similarities in terms of themes, including the loss of innocence, power and dominance, and paternal influences. These themes are effectively portrayed through the use of symbolism and irony. In The Kite Runner, for example, Hosseini establishes the innocence of the protagonist, Amir, through his intense desire for kites, particularly the winning kite in the annual tournament. Throughout Amir’s childhood, kites serve as a constant presence, representing his goodness and the purity of Afghanistan during that time.
Amir’s innocence was stolen by the neighborhood bully, Assef, when he was twelve-years-old. Despite longing for the winning kite, Amir obtained it at the expense of his friend, Hassan. In his own words, Amir confessed, “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). Witnessing Hassan’s rape left Amir haunted by his cowardice and the loss of his own purity and innocence. Reflecting on this traumatic event, Amir hung up the kite on his wall, where it served as a constant reminder mocking him. Years later, upon Amir’s return to Kabul as an adult, there were no kites left to be found.
In The Kite Runner, Amir desired the victorious kite as a representation of the innocence and goodness he longed for, just like Afghanistan had been ravaged by the Taliban, depriving it of its innocence and goodness. Witnessing Hassan’s rape and Kabul in ruins without kites and tournaments further intensified Amir’s yearning for his past innocence. Similarly, in Lord of the Flies, Golding employed symbols, comparable to Hoseinni’s use of the kite symbolizing innocence.
Instead of using an object or toy, Golding chose to use Simon to symbolize purity. Simon, who was a quiet and kind-hearted boy, was brutally killed by his fellow peers. He represented goodness and innocence on the island, understanding that evil resided within the others, even though he himself was too pure to succumb to it. Unlike in The Kite Runner, where Assef and the Taliban stripped Amir of his innocence, Simon was taken away by the boys themselves. “There were no words, and no movements but the tearing of teeth and claws” (153).
The boys transformed into savages and abducted Simon from their group, showing a lack of desire for him or his innocence and easily discarding them. The transformation into monsters occurred as goodness was being destroyed, and the boys never considered the consequences of their actions. Both novels also explore the theme of power and dominance. In The Kite Runner, this is demonstrated by Assef, a bully who later becomes a Taliban official. Assef and the Taliban symbolize power, which the author, Hoseinni, further emphasizes through the use of irony.
An instance of dramatic irony in The Kite Runner occurred during a conversation between Baba and a young Amir. Baba expressed his concern, saying, “God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands!” (17). Baba was referring to the Taliban and his hope that they would never gain power. However, ironically, the Taliban eventually did take control of Afghanistan. Baba pleaded to God for assistance, even though he did not necessarily believe in God, while the Taliban used religion to justify their actions. Similarly, in Lord of the Flies, Golding employed Jack and his hunters to portray notions of power and dominance.
In an attempt to establish their dominance, Jack and his hunters killed the pig in a showy manner, believing that appearing flashy and strong would earn them respect. Not only did Jack showcase his power through these extravagant hunting displays, but he also exerted his dominance by acting violently towards Ralph, Piggy, and the other boys. However, Jack is not the sole figure of power in this story. Similarly, the British official who arrived to rescue the boys holds a position of authority, along with the British army. Golding expressed his fondness for irony by incorporating a British soldier onto the island as well.
The boys had been mimicking the worldwide war by creating their own war on the island. Golding continued by showing the irony of a British soldier reprimanding the boys for not being proper and British while observing their savagery. The soldier expressed disbelief that a pack of British boys couldn’t put up a better show. However, it was ironic that the soldier himself was also being savage and in the middle of a war.
Both The Kite Runner and Lord of the Flies explore themes of innocence and power, as well as the absence of positive parental influence. In The Kite Runner, Amir is envious of the close bond between Hassan and his presumed father, Ali. Amir longs for his own father’s approval and affection, but feels it is always reserved for adults. As he reflects, “He’d close the door, leave me to wonder why it was always grown-ups’ time with him” (5). This passage highlights how Amir never received the love and affection he desired from his father, both during his childhood and into adulthood.
Throughout his life, Amir faced constant rejection and disappointment. His own father, Baba, saw him as a calamity and closed the door on him at every opportunity. The only person who provided Amir with positive parental guidance was Rahim Kahn, his father’s friend and business partner. However, Amir did not fully appreciate this influence because he desperately longed for approval from Baba and a mother he never had. This longing created an emptiness within him that Rahim Kahn could not fill. With a deceased mother and an indifferent father, Amir yearned for a father figure so deeply that the absence of parental guidance caused him to destroy himself mentally. In contrast to The Kite Runner, the boys in Lord of the Flies did not value the presence of paternal influences as much as Amir did.
Despite the absence of adults on the island, the boys were overjoyed as they didn’t have anyone to restrain them. In fact, when asked if there were any grownups, the fair boy replied solemnly that he didn’t think so, but soon his delight in fulfilling this ambition took over (8). Just like the boys, Amir also yearned for parental guidance that he never had. The boys on the island were content without adult influence. However, it became evident over time that this lack of parental figures had consequences, which contradicted the boys’ initial beliefs.
One can consider Roger. Initially, he was reluctant to harm the smaller, younger boys. The memories of civilization and consequences still influenced his actions. However, as the story continues, Roger progressively becomes less humane. This is reminiscent of Assef in The Kite Runner, who as a child, subconsciously understood that his bullying could lead to punishment. As he grew older and his parents’ influence waned, he could freely exert his anger.
The absence of parental influence in Lord of the Flies is depicted through the immature and adolescent behavior of the boys, as well as the absence of adults on the island. This leads to destruction and chaos, similar to Amir’s experiences but on a larger scale. Golding and Hoseinni both explore similar themes in their writing, particularly the loss of innocence, power dynamics, and the absence of positive parental influences. Through these themes, they highlight a life that contrasts with that of the typical American youth.
Amir kept his innocence in a kite in his homeland. The boys on the island were unaware that one small boy held their innocence. Neither Amir nor the island boys had parental figures to rely on. Now, innocence is ridiculed and parental figures are rejected, but many do not understand the loss of innocence or the absence of a mother or father in times of need. Where is your innocence stored? Where do you seek the solace and shield that a mother’s love and a father’s proud admiration provide?