The Portrayal of Adolescents In The Poisonwood Bible and The Kite Runner Essay Example

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 1534 Pages: 6
  • Published: 20 June 2021
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The Kite Runner is a novel about a kid named Amir who lives in Afghanistan and how he has to deal with leaving everything he has ever known behind because of War in his country. The Poisonwood Bible is a book about how a mother and her four daughters are affected by their time living in Africa against their will by their abusive Husband/Father, a Baptist Priest trying to spread Christianity to Africa. In each book, adolescents is portrayed as a horrific time in one’s life. During that time, a person’s mind is very vulnerable and, when put in certain situations, can have a significant impact, good or bad, on who that person becomes. While the characters at the start of the books seem to be fairly innocent, they soon lose that innocence due to the traumatic experiences they face. Both The Kite Runner and The Poisonwood Bible portray adolescents as a time of both innocence and terror, but the authors portray it differently because they have distinct purposes.

In the beginning of The Kite Runner, Amir is a young boy living in Afghanistan with his Father, who he calls Baba, and his servants, Ali and Hassan. Amir’s Father is a very wealthy man and because of that, Amir gets to do and have things most children in Afghanistan do not have. For instance, Amir gets to go to school, he has a servant that does everything for him, and he has things that other children who live in lower income households do not, such as new books and toys. Amir’s childhood is a very happy one, at least for awhile.

Although Hassan is Amir’s servant, the two are around the same age and are very close with each other. Hassan is like a younger brother to Amir. Amir does things such as read to Hassan and answer questions Hassan asks about the world. Although Amir cares deeply for Hassan, he does sometimes take advantage of his ignorance by doing things such as improvising when reading to Hassan instead of reading the actual story and telling lies to the questions Hassan asks. Amir is also ashamed of Hassan because he does not acknowledge him when he has friends over. Even though Amir has his flaws, he cares deeply for Hassan and would not want anything bad to happen to him, which is why he was horrified when something did happen to him.

Amir and Hassan were tormented on a regular basis by another kid named Assef and his friends. Assef would do things such as make fun of Hassan’s deformed nose, calling him “Babalu”, and physically attack them. One time though, Hassan protects him and Amir by using his slingshot and a rock and he slings the rock at Assef. While this protected them at the moment, Assef  later does something terrible to Hassan that also causes harm to Amir. 

Every year, Amir would enter a contest where he would fly a kite and try to eliminate the other contestant’s kites. Amir would let Hassan help him fly the kite. Amir won the contest and Hassan offered to return the kite back to their home. As Hassan was returning the kite home, Assef confronted him. Assef told Hassan to give him the kite, but Hassan refused. Assef made his usual threats, but Hassan just would not budge. This made Amir furious, causing him to do the unthinkable to Hassan. He made his friends hold Hassan down and he sexually assaulted him. Earlier, Amir was worried when he could not find Hassan and he started looking for him. When Amir finally found him, Assef had already surrounded Hassan and Amir did not know what to do. He just stood there and watched Hassan get raped without doing anything. 

This incident is when both Amir and Hassan lost their innocence. Amir had to deal with the guilt of not doing anything for his closest friend who had done everything for him. While Hassan’s childhood was not as happy as Amir’s was, with being a servant and such, he lost the remaining innocence he had. Amir lost one of his closest friendships because he could not face Hassan any longer. Not only could he not face Hassan, but the few times Amir talked to him, he would torment him, trying to get Hassan angry at him.

Amir did not feel like he could tell his Father what had happened because he thought that his Father would be disappointed in him and never see him in the same way again. Amir decided that the only way he could get over the guilt of not doing anything for Hassan was to get rid of Hassan, so he framed Hassan for stealing one of his birthday presents. When Hassan was caught, Amir’s Father forgave him, but Hassan’s Father said that him and Hassan needed to leave. It was likely that Hassan had told Ali what had happened and begged him not to tell Amir’s Father what had happened, to protect Amir. Ali and Hassan leave and Amir never see’s Hassan again. While he thought getting rid of Hassan would make things better, it did not, framing Hassan only made him feel even more guilty. When Hassan left, so did Amir’s childhood.

In the beginning of The Poisonwood Bible, the four girls, Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May Price, are fairly innocent. Rachel, who is almost sixteen years old, does not have any common sense or understand basic vocabulary. Although Leah and Adah are very intelligent academically, they do not understand anything about the culture they are about to live in. Ruth May is only six years old, therefore she does not have a good grasp on the world around her. All of them have lived in a world where everything such as food and clean water has been something that is not a challenge to get, but they soon learn that that is not the case for everyone. Not long after moving to Africa, they learn that they must pick their food off the tree’s and if they want meat, they must hunt for it. They also learn that they must boil the water before they drink it, or else they could get violently ill. These girls already lose some of their innocence because they have to change their of way of life in such a short time. Unfortunately, that is only the beginning of their many hardships. 

The girls Father, Nathan, is a Baptist Priest, making him a very religious man. He hits the girls on a regular basis and tells them that they are sinners if they do things such as complain about living in Africa or swear. Leah and Adah are very intelligent for their age, in fact, they are considered “gifted”. Nathan believes that it does not matter whether or not they are gifted because they are female and he tells them that he will never let them go to college. While Nathan did somewhat act like this before they moved to Africa, his violence and his tendency to be very firm with his daughters became much worse after they moved. Over the course of their time in Africa, Nathan just keeps getting more and more abusive and deranged to his wife and daughters, which plays a significant part in them losing their innocence.

The girls and their Mother, Orleanna, beg Nathan to let them return home, but he refuses. He says that they can not leave until he is finished with the work of god. Orleanna and Ruth May later become ill, which leaves Rachel, Leah, and Adah responsible for doing all of the chores such as boiling the water, cooking on a very complicated stove, gathering food, along with many other things. If they failed, then Nathan would yell at them or get violent. Having to take on all of the household responsibilities, knowing that if you made one error you would likely be physically punished, would likely put a strain on anyone’s life, much less children. 

Orleanna eventually gets better and she resumes all the housework. Ruth May is still sick and she is getting worse and Nathan still refuses to let her see a doctor. The girls soon discover that Ruth May has not been taking her malaria pills and that is the reason why she got sick. Orleanna gives Ruth May her malaria pills and she gets better soon after.Unfortunately, Ruth May dies not long after from a snake bite, taking away Rachel, Leah, and Adah’s innocence for good.

In The Kite Runner, adolescents is at first portrayed as a time of innocence at first, but it then escalates into a time of trauma and terror. Amir went from being a spoiled, privileged, child to being a child who is being tortured by the guilt of not helping his friend when he needed him the most. Not only that, but Amir made the choice of getting rid of his friend, only making his guilt worse. In The Poisonwood Bible, adolescence is portrayed as a time that is always terror, never innocence. For example, Nathan, the Father of the girls, was abusive and made his daughters feel like they were worthless and that their only purpose was to serve an invisible being. Along with the abusive Father, Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May had to watch their Father go insane and force his beliefs on people who did not have any interest in what he had to say.

Adolescents is a very complex time in one’s life. For some people, it is a great experience and for others, it is a terrible one. The Kite Runner and The Poisonwood Bible show great portrayals of childhoods that were very unpleasant. It also shows how bad experiences in childhood can define a person's life. The Kite Runner and The Poisonwood Bible are very similar in the way they portray childhood, but very different in the representations of childhood.



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