The Kite Runner – Symbols practice essay

1. Choose a novel in which the novelist makes use of symbols. Describe briefly what they represent and discuss how the use of these symbols helps develop the central concern(s) of the text.

‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini makes use of several symbols throughout the text such as the Eid sacrifice, kites, pomegranate trees, slingshots, the harelip and the story of Rostram and Sohrab. We can look at what these symbols represent and how they help develop the central concerns of guilt and redemption and the loyalty of friendship.
The most important symbol in the text is the Eid sacrifice which represents the character Hassan. In Islam a goat or sheep is sacrificed to show the loyalty between man and God, in the text Hassan is being raped by Assef because he refused to give up the kite for Amir. The text tells us that Amir shuts his eyes and that all he could see was “the look of the lamb”. This becomes a metaphor that connects Hassan with the sacrifice. The lamb accepts its fate, to be sacrificed for the love of God in much the same way that Hassan accepts the abuses of Assef for the love of Amir. This primarily highlights the central concern of friendship and loyalty as Hassan allows Assef to rape him so he can keep the kite for Amir. He has admitted previously that he would “eat dirt” for Amir, and here he is doing something similarly grim. It also highlights the theme of guilt and redemption though, as Amir should really have intervened at this point and stopped Assef. Instead, he shuts his eyes and ignores the event, a decision which will lead to him feeling guilty for the next twenty years.
The second symbol that is significant in this text in relation to the two themes is the kites. Traditionally kites were used as tools in war and now in Afghanistan there are annual kite tournaments where teams of boys fight to win. In the book the kite is used to show the strength of the bond between Amir and Hassan. At the kite tournament they must work as a seamless, synchronised team to defeat the other players. It is this symbiotic nature between the boys that allows them to win. When they do win, Amir is seen shouting “We won! We won!” Amir’s word choice of ‘we’ shows him publicly admitting that he and Hassan are together and united. He admits out loud that they are friends. The kite is later seen to separate the boys though and comes to represent Amir’s guilt. The kite is the reason Hassan gets raped. He sees the kite as his and Amir’s prize for winning the tournament and tells Assef this. When he returns with the kite Amir doesn’t see it as a symbol of their victory but rather a reminder of what Hassan has gone through and his own guilt at not intervening. At the end of the novel we see the kite once more. This time it is again used to reinforce the theme of loyalty and friendship. Amir and Sohrab are flying kites together in the park. Amir tells Sohrab he will run him a kite, and that he would do this “a thousand times over”. This is a phrase Hassan once used with Amir, to show Amir the level of his devotion. Amir has now learnt how strong the bond is between himself and his old friend. He repeats this phrase to his nephew but it is also a promise to Hassan that he will raise his son properly. The kite is the tool that will bond Amir and Sohrab and will keep alive the tie between Amir and Hassan.

A third symbol we see in the book is the pomegranate tree which is used to represent the friendship between Amir and Hassan at three points in the plot. Pomegranates are traditionally seen as symbols of friendship in Islamic tradition and we first see the pomegranate tree when the boys visit the cemetery and carve into the tree’s bark “Amir and Hassan, Sultans of Kabul”. Here we see the two boys as equals, they are both rulers of all they purvey. More importantly they are sharing that land too which shows them in a strong partnership together. The second visit to the pomegranate tree occurs after Hassan has been raped and this time Amir shouts the word ‘coward’ at Hassan and throws the fruit at him causing it to fall apart. Here Amir is really angry at himself for not intervening in the rape, he believes that if he makes Hassan hurt him it will make up for not stopping Assef. Amir can only deal with his guilt at this point by causing himself hurt. He is the real coward here, as he didn’t stop his best friend from getting hurt. The pomegranate’s physical disintegration becomes a metaphor for the break-up of the two boys as their friendship dissolves in that one moment. Finally we see the pomegranate tree when Amir returns to Kabul and is aware that Hassan is dead and he must rescue Sohrab. He returns to the tree to find it still labelled with the words he and Hassan carved into it twenty-six years before. This tells us that although the tree and Hassan are dead, the survival of the engraving shows their relationship is still alive as Amir has found a way to redeem himself. The pomegranate tree then represents these two themes. It first plots the journey of Amir and Hassan’s relationship from its strongest point to its weakest and then its remembrance. It acts as a witness to Amir’s guilt (when the boys fall out) and to the start of his redemption (when he returns to rescue Sohrab).

The Kite Runner – chapter 18 analysed

In Chapter 18 Hosseini describes how every mention of Hassan caused Amir to feel ‘like the scab was being removed’ on a fresh wound. This is very effective in demonstrating Amir’s emotions at this point. Hassan’s death is likened to a wound inflicted on Amir’s body. It hurts him that his friend is dead. Every time someone mentions Hassan it causes this ‘wound’ to hurt again.
There are a number of things that Amir sees as unmistakeable signs of Baba’s relation to Hassan. First of all Baba paid for Hassan’s lip surgery so his cleft pallet wasn’t as obvious. He bought him an expensive kite for his birthday. He always gave Amir and Hassan money to go to the cinema. He forgives Hassan for ‘stealing’ Amir’s watch. He completely over reacts when Ali says he is taking Hassan away from Kabul and at Amir’s graduation he states that he wishes Hassan could have been there.
The truth that Baba kept certain information hidden from Amir hurts so much because of two elements. Baba told Amir that the worst thing any person could do was to steal. He said that if you tell a lie or hide the facts then you are stealing the truth from the people involved. By not telling the truth about Hassan Baba has hidden the facts from both his children. It also suggests that Baba was embarrassed about Hassan on some level as he didn’t want to admit that his child was half-Hazara. Amir would have felt that his father didn’t trust him completely.
The cliché ‘like father, like son’ is true because both Baba and Amir hide the truth and this has devastating effects on the future. Baba has hidden Hassan’s true identity which leads to Hassan being left in Afghanistan and eventually leads to his death. Amir never admits to witnessing the assault on Hassan and therefore ruins his friendship with his best friend and brother.
When Amir speaks of his ‘oblivion’ he is speaking of the emptiness he feels now that he knows Hassan is dead and that his father lied to him.
This chapter is ended very effectively on several levels. Hosseini begins to close the chapter by making Amir have a dream in which Hassan is seen praying, muttering the mantra ‘a thousand times for you’, over his bloodied hands. Taliban men then come and shoot Hassan in the head. This tells us that Amir’s guilt still hangs heavy on him at this point in the book. He goes outside to get some air and accidently overhears Wahid, his host, and his wife arguing about food. There is none left because they gave it all to Amir. This reinforces just how poor and desperate many Afghan families have become under the Taliban regime.

The Kite Runner – narrative style

The book is told in first person from the perspective of Amir. It begins in the middle of the story, when Amir gets a phone call in San Francisco in 2001 from Rahim Khan calling him back to Afghanistan. It then throws the reader back to Kabul in 1975 where it begins to follow the story of Amir’s childhood. This continues along through the rest of Amir’s life up until the point where he rescues and adopts Sohrab.
This is important as it means we look at the events in Kabul through the eyes of a reflective adult rather than the eyes of child. We have an adult reaction to the things that happen, but it also allows us as the reader to understand why the children and young adults react to things the way they do. For example, we understand that Amir feels he cannot stop the rape from happening because he is too cowardly and is afraid of the outcome for himself. We understand that Assef bullies others because he has insecurity issues about his own mixed race heritage.
In Chapter 7 there are two unusual points to the tale. There is a strange inclusion of a dream sequence told through Hassan. He is given a huge chunk of text to say. In this dream sequence he predicts the outcome of the kite tournament and his impending abuse at the hands of Assef through the metaphor of the lake monster that he and Amir defeat.
At the end of the chapter there is also a descriptive flashback of an Eid sacrifice whilst Hassan is being assaulted. In this scene Amir does not want to watch his friend being assaulted and he does not want to acknowledge that he should really be preventing it from happening. Instead he shuts his eyes and conjures up an image of the Eid sacrifice. During the Eid festival a sheep or goat is sacrificed to represent the loyalty of men to God. Amir remembers this now as Hassan is sacrificing himself out of his loyalty for Amir.
In Chapter 16 the narrative shifts to Rahim Khan as he relates the story of Hassan’s life and eventual death at the hands of the Taliban. Rahim Khan was closer than Amir to Hassan at this point and so it gives the story more emotional weight. We expect, because the story of Hassan has a lot of happy points to it, that his tale will end well. It is a shock when Rahim Khan eventually reveals Hassan’s death with the simple statement that the Taliban were committing genocide by ‘ridding’ Afghanistan of Hazaras.

The Kite Runner – Chapter 16 analysed

At the beginning of Chapter 16 we hear Rahim Khan’s voice. Rather than relate the story of Hassan second-hand through Amir, Hosseini has chosen to tell it to us straight from Rahim Khan. This is a significant choice, as Rahim Khan would have been the closest person to Hassan in his later years and so when we are told about Hassan’s death it has a greater emotional impact.
Hassan had been living in Amir and Baba’s old house, helping Rahim Khan look after it for them. Hassan went to such pains to return the house to its former glory because he took a pride in his old home and he wanted to keep it ready for Baba and Amir’s return.
Hassan names his son Sohrab after the character in his favourite tale – Rostram and Sohrab. There is a certain irony in his name choice for his son as the Sohrab in the Arabic tale never knows who his true father is, much like Hassan is completely unaware that Baba is his biological parent.
There is a short paragraph about Hassan’s village which create an impression of it as a wasteland. First there is the rutted and dried track one musht drive along to reach it. The village is so hidden and unreachable that it either doesn’t have a name or people have forgotten it. The people who live there take no pride in their home as they have left a donkey carcass to rot at the side of the road. The plants and trees that have taken root there are all dying from a lack of water. The people live in what are described as mud huts creating a sense that life out there is primitive. Lastly, the mountains that shelter the village are compared with sharp teeth creating a sense that this area will eat you alive and that death in some form is always imminent.
For a very long time Amir has not bothered to think about Hassan or Afghanistan finding the topic of his childhood to painful and guilt-ridden. In contrast to this Hassan has thought constantly about his lost friend and has even gone to the trouble of learning to write so he can contact him. In his letter, Hassan asks a number of questions in between telling Amir all about himself and what life is like for him now with a son and wife. Hassan appears interested whereas Amir doesn’t want to go near the subject of their childhood or friendship and Amir has to be forced to do so by Rahim Khan.
Hassan had cleaned the house ‘like he was preparing for someone’s return’. This statement is odd because we know he was actually preparing it for someone’s return, specifically Amir’s. He wanted to see his old friend again to remind himself of a time before invasions and war had torn his homeland apart.
Sanaubar is Hassan’s mother, and she makes reappearance when Hassan is an adult. She takes great care of Sohrab. Firstly, this is because it is her only grandson, and so she naturally dotes on him. There is also an element here of making up for things that were lost. This is Sanaubar’s redemption. If she takes good care of Sohrab it might make up for her not being around to raise Hassan.

The Kite Runner – Chapter 9 analysed

In chapter 9 it is Amir’s birthday. The presents he receives are listed to show us just how much he has been given (spoilt) but also that despite all these new play things he struggles to focus on anything. His mind is racing with the guilt and confusion of falling out with Hassan.
The colour of the bike being compared to that of blood is a reminder of the Eid sacrifice and therefore the assault on Assef.
Ali and Hassan get Amir a copy of the Shahnamah for his birthday. This is a brand new hardback copy of the stories Hassan and Amir read together under the pomegranate tree. Amir feels like crying when he receives this because so much thought and care has gone into selecting the present but at this point he and Hassan are not talking. It is a reminder to him of how good a friend Hassan truly is and how bad a friend Amir is currently being in not giving Hassan any support. At this point Amir is actually shunning him.
Amir frames Hassan, by making it look like Hassan was jealous of all his presents and hiding the watch and money under Hassan’s pillow. Amir does this in the hope that Baba will get mad and send Hassan away, that way Amir will no longer have to look at Hassan, who makes him constantly feel guilty. When Hassan is called in by Baba for questioning he actually admits to stealing the watch – even though he didn’t! He is still prepared to stick up for, and protect and defend, Amir no matter what it costs him.
Baba’s response is even more shocking. Instead of getting angry, as Amir was expecting, Baba immediately forgives Hassan. He doesn’t even shout, he just calmly tells Hassan that he is absolved. We are just as shocked as Amir. Obviously later, this weird moment of forgiveness is explained through the discovery that Hassan is actually Baba’s child. He would clearly not want to give up his son.
At the end of the chapter Hassan and Ali leave whilst Amir watches from the window. We are told that “all he saw was the rain through windowpanes that looked like melting silver.” Here the stormy downpour mirrors Amir’s terrible mood. He is heartbroken that Hassan is leaving but doesn’t know how to deal with it. The silver disappearing down the outside of the windowpane is like something precious getting away – Amir is losing his best friend.

Symbols in The Kite Runner

Pomegranate tree
The Qu’ran mentions the pomegranate tree as one of the fruits in the garden of paradise. In Islam the pomegranate tree is one of the trees present in the garden of Paradise. In The Kite Runner there is a pomegranate tree in the cemetary where Amir and Hassan play. The fruit is also the colour of blood.

A simple but powerful weapon, they are used both as a domestic weapon and by military personnel. In Iraq’s recent past, slingshots became associated with insurgent groups/guerrilla warfare. . Hassan’s slingshot represents his devotion to Amir, and Sohrab uses his to finally defeat Assef.

Kites have been used throughout history for various purposes including sending a message in war time, sending prayers to heaven and as a form of entertainment.. During kite flying competitions two or more ‘sides’ are joined in confrontation. The kite flying itself needs two people to make it work properly – one to control the spool and one to control the line.

A harelip is a congenital disorder. The lip fails to form properly within the womb, leaving a gap. With modern surgery this “deformity” is easily fixed.

Eid sacrifice
“Festival of Sacrifice” is an important Islamic holiday in which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a sheep to sacrifice instead.

Rostam and Sohrab
The Shanemeh, (Book of Kings) tells of Rostam, a Persian hero, who kills his son, Sohrab, a champion swordsman, in a battle between Iran and Turan. Accounts vary as to whether Rostam knew Sohrab was his son. All accounts make clear Sohrab never knew his father. This story is Hassan’s favourite from the whole book.

Creative Writing – a possible process

A lot of people look at creative writing and freak out. They see a blank page in front of them that needs filled, and a lot of times, especially when it’s folio work, they focus on the quantity (word count!) rather than the quality of their writing. When the SQA or your teacher looks at your work they are looking to see that you can create all the things you analyse in the texts studied in class – plot, atmosphere, character development, setting.

The first thing you need to do if you’re not good at creative writing is decide on a genre and a plot. For this post, we’re going to think about ghost stories. There are some typical things we find in a ghost story – firstly, a ghost, a creepy atmosphere is established and a sinister setting is usually needed. I started out with a rough plan for a ghost story in my head. I know that I want the story to involve a graveyard and that the story will take place at night when everywhere is secluded. I’m not sure about my ghost but I know that my human character will be a girl who is late getting home and decides on a short cut home.

The night air is thick with the darkness of seething clouds. They spill across the sky in squalling waves pushed on by a howling wind. This is the depth of winter and all sensible living things have tucked themselves away till dawn, away from the cruel beasties and monsters that are left to stalk the inky black.

By using the weather I’ve managed to create a spooky atmosphere straight away. You can easily picture a moody night sky closing in on people. If your struggling, try and focus on describing something and think of film scenes for inspiration.

The girl that walked along the pavement seemed well aware of this as she moved from spot of man-made light to man-made light. Her jacket collar was drawn close around her jaw, her tense hands ploughed tight into her pockets and her eyes flashed around at every jumping shadow and flicker of fluorescent glow. She kept a fair distance from the pavement edge, in case something should creep out from its solid depth without her noticing. The girl was late home from her friend’s. She should have left an hour ago, before the light began to fade and the gloom seeped across the sky. She shook her head, annoyed at herself.

Here I’ve introduced the main character. We get a sense that she isn’t too happy about being outside. And she is faced with a problem that she must overcome.

She would have to cut across the graveyard. There was no other way to make it back to her dorm in time before the doors were completely locked. She could feel its looming presence to her left, a coldness seemed to permeate from it, seeping through her skin and entering the very marrow of her bones where it instilled a sharp chill. It was an old cemetery, one that hadn’t seen any new residents for centuries, one with a crumbling church in the middle whilst the graves emanated out from it, like runic spirals.

And there’s the spooky setting! Ooh, isn’t it creepy, with all those crumbling tombstones and the old church that nobody visits anymore. But why is it there? What has caused it to fall into disrepair? I hear you cry.

They said that once the church had been busy, the thriving heart of the community. They said that despite this, a pox came and slaughtered most of the cattle and wiped out half the population. They said that no reason or explanation could be found until a traveling witch hunter turned up. They said that he uncovered a witch – young, beautiful, talented – hidden amongst them who was found guilty of assaulting her town. They said that the enchantress had stood no trial before being sentenced to her death. They said that her murder was a slow and torturous affair, a hanging with weeping entrails and a roasting pyre. They said that her vengeful spirit still prowled the hallowed ground.

They say it’s just a silly ghost story made to frighten kids on Halloween. Now stop flinching at shadows and get yourself home, girl. She looked up for the first time since leaving her friend’s warm apartment and straightened her back out. She thrust her chin out into the cutting night air and turned through the rusted iron gates and onto the flattened grass that served as the cemetery path.

Only a very keen watcher could note that just as she passed below the gate there was the slightest hunch of her shoulders and slackening of her spine.

As she walked across the dark she could feel the ground beneath her faltering away. She was going to have to concentrate hard on staying upright. She couldn’t see thing. She tripped on a shattered headstone. Her bag sprawling out before her, contents spilling out and her hair flying. Her shin was in agony, and she could already feel the purple smudges of a bruise forming on her delicate skin. She let out a whimper.

Somewhere in the darkness, someone whimpered back…

She stopped breathing. Sitting bolt upright, she spun around looking left and right. She couldn’t see anything; only the strange humps and bumps of cracked grave markers and the contorted branches of trees and bushes.

It’s just a fox… or badger. It’s nothing to be afraid of, she tried to convince herself. But her hands were shaking as she re-packed her bag, and slowly, without realising she had begun to cry. She began to move back across the path, trying to keep her head up and focus on a single point in the distance. Her feet still felt unsteady, but she knew she had to push on.

And there it was again, a second whimper.

She moved quicker, this time. If I don’t look, it can’t be real, and it can’t get me. She was thinking silly thoughts now. She was starting to really believe that there was something there. And then it was.

She couldn’t be sure she had definitely seen it. But she was convinced that for the briefest of moments there had been a face peering at her from the church window. Pale and thin and with dark circles for eyes.

Move, move, move, move. She said the mantra to herself now. It was a tattoo that matched her footprints across the grass. Still unsteady although more determined now. And then she stopped.

She couldn’t move. She wanted to yet some greater force had pinned her to that precise spot. Some other entity forced her head around till she was facing the space before the church. Out of all that darkness appeared grotesque silhouettes.

She could see a cruel scaffold take form with a table of tools next to it and the outline of a pyre. And amongst it all she could see a wavering apparition. What should have been a young woman stood not ten feet away from her.

Her immobilised body screamed with pain. She could sense it. All of it. The smell of urine and faeces that coated her form, the throbbing in her skull and hands from thumbscrews and scold’s bridles. The infected pinpricks from the witchfinder’s probing. She could feel the biting of the bonds that held her to the post, the tight hemp wrapped close around her neck, the slow cut of a knife across her abdomen, the slicing and tearing apart of her guts, the lack of oxygen as she fought to breath and break free, her lungs heaving, the explosions of light as consciousness started to fade. The roar of a crowd and the sounds of a fire being started, the crackle as flames began to take hold and eagerly leap about. And then the smell of burning, human flesh, sulphurous and dirty. Acrid. It hit her nostrils and she tried to gag. Acid burned through what was left of her being.

The girl was still in front of her. At least, what had been left of her. Her form was now twisted and contorted. The back hunched and shrivelled up on itself, the hands and feet clawed, and the knees and elbows drawn in to almost a foetal position. The blackened scalp was all that was left there. Her dress hung off her in smouldering tatters and some of it had fused fibres with the skin.

It was impossible to describe the skin.

The shape stayed there for a heartbeat or two, then simply disappeared.

The images were burned into her mind forever. She had witnessed a memory, an outline, an imprint from the past. And she knew then that the malignant spirit or the ghost or the girl or whatever she was didn’t want anything bad. She just wanted out, to stop reliving the same nightmare of pain over and over again.

The girl slowly, dazedly, pulled herself together. she breathed a deep sigh, in and out. Then carefully made her way back home.

taken from

Discursive/Persuasive essay – part 2

Battling Bad Behaviour

Miley Cyrus bends over in front of the camera, bum wagging and tongue protruding. It’s an image that has been photographed and shown again and again in various newspapers and online articles. Many would slate Miley for the way she behaves and the image she promotes, shouting out for change in the way she projects herself. However, the problem is actually two-fold. First of all, Miley, and the rest of her crew, do have a responsibility to behave sensibly and show an awareness of the influence they have over young girls. In addition though, the media need to stop promoting and endorsing these behaviours as somehow glamorous or cool and instead push to the front those women who do act in a positive light and set a positive example.

Part of the problem is that the likes of Miley and Rihanna have a heavy teenage (and tweenage) following. When they were younger, their images were bubbly and fun compared with their current edgier incarnations. Cyrus started out as Hannah Montana, a sweet TV character whose popularity is proven by the shows five year run on American (and British) television. Her fame is further proven by the huge brand this lone TV character created. Merchandise was produced including stationary, dolls and clothing. Little girls wanted to be Hannah Montana and they continued to eagerly follow Miley’s career, probably expecting more of the saccharine Hannah. Instead, they were confronted with a twerking, tongue-poking celebrity. Similarly, Rihanna started out with a sugary sweet image – one of her first biggest hits was the super-chipper Umbrella which saw her twirl her way across our screens and The New York Times magazine even went so far as to give her the label Cookie-Cutter Teen Queen in 2009. Quite a contrast then with later hits like S & M, with its highly sexualised lyric content. It is not right to criticise Miley Cyrus and Rihanna for their actions in themselves but there is a problem when young girls are being exposed to behaviours, images and actions that they are not old enough to fully contextualise yet.

This leads into the next point. These women often dress in a way that is overly sexualised and encourages the objectification of women. There have been a spat of award ceremonies recently, and whilst the majority of celebrities turn up rather nattily attired, there are a select group who seem to go out of their way to dress as controversially – and presumably as sexily – as possible. If we look at our two favourite offenders again we see that Rihanna and Miley attend numerous award ceremonies and fashion shows where there is an abundance of flesh on display, and most of it is theirs. For a New York Fashion Week event, Rihanna, ever on the cutting edge of fashion, appeared to forget both her trousers and her top, wearing only her lingerie and a sparkly blazer accessorized with some strappy stilettos and a man. Yes, this was a fashion event where things are a bit quirky and different but why was it okay for her to go out into the streets like that? It’s unsuitable as well though because it detracts from their actual work and good deeds. Cyrus turned up at the amfAR LA Inspiration Gala, at which she also donated a whopping $500,000 to help fight AIDs. Yet it was her generous show of skin rather than her generous donation that was picked up on by the majority of the press. She had turned up wearing a bondage styled dress, which criss-crossed her torso leaving little to the imagination. What should have been reported on in this instance was her giving nature not what nature had given her.

Not content to just appear inappropriately attired, often at such public events these celebrities do nothing to vet their inappropriate behaviour, in fact in some instances they seem almost proud of it. In this country we have a glut of minor celebrities made famous through reality shows. In July this year three members of the Made in Chelsea cast were embroiled in a drugs scandal. Their photo appeared on their social media pages and appeared to show drug paraphernalia on the table behind them and it was heavily suggested that Binky and her cohort of fillies had been indulging in illegal substances . Everything about the way it was covered and then brushed away suggests that there was nothing wrong with their behaviour.
Even these celebrities self-promotion can be bad. To return to our favourite once more, Miley Cyrus crouches down in her webpage, grabbing her crotch whilst sticking her tongue out. What a lovely image to present to the world. There’s a second shot of her wearing what appears to be bondage gear and a third image shows her topless with bits of chicken edited over the top to keep her dignity (although the presence of cartoon chicken drumsticks might suggest it had already left some time ago). All this does is demonstrate to our children and young people that this type of behaviour is accepted or even worse, a nice way to behave. Yes, all of this is part of their image, their brand, but why would you want to make out that you are nothing more than something akin to a Barbie doll to be propped up in daft positions with nothing but fluff filling up the space usually given over to a brain?

There are other role models who should be promoted such as actresses and athletes. And this is perhaps where we see the media’s role in all this best. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Addlington and Nicola Adams all exemplify a healthy and driven lifestyle. These young women are ambitious and reached out to achieve their dreams. Instead of focusing on this the media instead chose to focus on Miss Addlington’s weight issues or Miss Pendleton’s vanishing thighs during her stint on Strictly. There are actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson or Emma Stone who also create a positive image to follow. Jennifer Lawrence regularly discusses positive body image, Emma Watson has spoken out about equal rights for all and Emma Stone chooses roles that give a positive message – look at her role in ‘The Help’ where her character contributes towards the civil rights movement in America. It’s difficult to see or hear any of this though behind the excited chatter at Lawrence’s hacked nude photos, or whispered speculations at Stone’s relationship status. The media needs to stop focusing on women for just their appearance or outlandish behaviour and show that what women do should be counted.

So how do we counter act this? It’s going to be a battle on two fronts and yes it will take some time. But we would ask that these starlets think about what persona they project into the stratosphere and what they are vicariously encouraging young folk to do. And we would also like to see the media think about how they present these tales to the world.

Word count:1, 174


Discursive/Persuasive Writing (part 1)

(taken from

Discursive writing makes up part of the folio at both National 5 and Higher level. it can earn you up to 15% of your final grade and so obviously it is well worth putting time and effort into this part of the course – especially as if you do it well, then that is 15% of the course you don’t have to worry about after it is sent off. Discursive writing will look at both sides of the argument before deciding on a stance whereas persuasive writing tends to come down heavier on one side of the argument throughout.

1) The first thing you need to do is to pick a topic – there are loads of them out there! Some of the ones that are traditionally used include ‘should abortion be allowed?’ and ‘Should cannabis remain illegal?’ If you want to make yours stand out try and pick a topic that you think no one else will be using and try going for something that is current and topical. If you find yourself getting stuck try flipping through some of the newspapers or looking at them online as most new articles are shaped around a persons opinion or view on something and they are forming an argument to persuade you to their opinion.
For the purposes of this piece I’m going to say that my discussion will focus on how the media needs to stop promoting female celebrities are bad role models.

2) Now I have decided on my main discussion I need to come up with sub-arguments. These will form the focus point in each of my paragraphs and will show that I have formulated a clear line of thought and have reasoned through the debate. My final piece is going to be a persuasive piece so I’m going to focus mainly on the bad points. Because this is just an example, I’ve only focused on four sub-arguments but yours should feature at least five or six.
* They start out with a young following because of their initial target market
* They are overly sexualised which encourages us to objectify women
* They do not hide their worst behaviours
*There are other role models who should be promoted – Jessica Ennis,

3) Now I have decided on my sub-arguments I need to find evidence that will back this up. I will look at this in more detail and analyse it so it supports my answer. The evidence could take the form of statistics, quotes or anecdotes and it can be lifted from a variety of sources – newspapers, internet pages or people you have spoken to. Some consideration should be given to the reliability of your source – You want to know that the information you are taking is true. Oh, and remember to keep a log of your sources.

If I look at my first bullet point again, I need something that shows these celebrities are capturing an audience at a young age. Hannah Montanah is a good example of this. Hannah Montanah is a TV series that ran from 2006 to 2011 starring Miley Cyrus. ( The TV show became hugely popular and began its own brand of merchandising including stationary, dolls and clothing ( Both these points demonstrate that Hannah Montanah had a young target market which I will develop further later.

For my next point I want to talk about how certain female celebrities appear over-sexualised in the media. For this I’m going to look at some recent images of Rihanna and Miley which show them attending award ceremonies and fashion shows and there is an abundance of flesh on display. One shows Miley Cyrus dressed in very little ( During New York Fashion Week, Rihanna showed up scantily clad yet again ( The evidence here is photographic and I can look in further detail at how these women’s clothing choices support my point about women being over-sexualised in their dress choices.

My third point was to look at how they exemplify their worst behaviours. In this country we have a glut of minor celebrities made famous through reality shows. In July this year three members of the Made in Chelsea cast were embroiled in a drugs scandal ( everything about the way it was covered and then brushed away suggests that there was nothing wrong with their behaviour.

My fourth point was that other females should be promoted for their positive messages. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Addlington and Nicola Adams all exemplify a healthy and driven lifestyle ( There are actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson or Emma Stone who also create a positive image to follow. Jennifer Lawrence discusses positive body image, Emma Watson has spoken out about equal rights for all and Emma Stone chooses roles that give a positive message – look at her role in ‘The Help’ where her character contributes towards the civil rights movement in America.

4) So I’m almost ready to start writing my main piece. I’ve considered my main argument, I’ve plotted my sub-arguments and I’ve collected evidence to back up what I’m saying. At this point I would probably re-organise my notes, either on a sheet of paper or a word document, so I could see the order in which all this information is going. I now need to start thinking about my narrative style. Am I going to be really formal? do I want to sound scathing? would it be appropriate to sound a bit more informal and use slang terms?

As a last point, I also need to think about how I am going to frame this essay. What am I going to say in my introduction that will catch a reader’s attention whilst making clear to them the argument I am discussing and my stance on it. What will I say in my conclusion to leave my reader thinking and show my stance once more.

Take a look at part 2 to see how the discursive essay turned out. Part 3 gives you a bank of words to use in putting your essay together.

The Kite Runner – Chapter 7 textual analysis

Textual Analysis of The Kite Runner, chapter 7 (answers)

1. a) How does Hosseini’s word choice in the opening paragraph create an unsettling mood on the morning of the kite tournament?

The final sentence in the opening paragraph creates the unsettling mood as it tells us that there is a ‘monster’ in the lake and that it has been swimming at the bottom, ‘waiting’. The idea that there is a monster is already unsettling as we see these as something disturbing and not to be trusted. It is a malevolent being. It is made worse by the point that the monster is ‘waiting’. There is a sense that it is lurking there, biding its time before it launches an attack or take some innocent.

b) Show how this mood changes in the telling of the rest of the dream.
The mood changes from unsettled to happy and exultant. The word choice demonstrates this – we read the people are ‘clapping’ for Amir and Hassan telling us they are applauded for their actions and therefore revered. The idea of them being revered and celebrated is also suggested in the name-change for the lake, it becomes the ‘Lake of Amir and Hassan, Sultans’. Here they are viewed as heroes and their actions catapults them to the highest rank in the land of ruler.
c) How does this dream mirror a later event in the chapter?
In the dream Amir and Hassan work together to prove there is no monster in the lake and are applauded by the adoring crowd. In the kite tournament, Amir and Hassan win, and are congratulated by the tournament audience. The monster however, comes to represent Assef. He is the lurking danger in the two boys life and although he shouldn’t really be a problem he is the thing that splits the two boys up.

2. Comment on the significance of the description of the snow covered scene on p. 57 in terms of later events. Look closely at word choice and imagery.

The snow in this scene is significant because it comes to represent purity and innocence. We are told that everything ‘glistened with fresh snow’ and that it was a ‘blinding white’. The snow should be seen to represent Hassan. The alliteration of the ‘blameless blue’ drags your attention to the odd word choice. The word choice suggests an event is going to happen for which someone should have taken responsibility. We know this event will be Amir’s betrayal of Hassan.
Building on this Amir notes that Ali “always said a prayer when his son left the house” – Ali knows Hassan is in permanent danger of discrimination because he is a Hazara. It is important that this is mentioned now. It gives a sense of foreboding to the chapter.
Both of these phrases are at odds with the purity image, suggesting something bad is going to happen.

3. Explain how the writer conveys the thrill of kite flying on p. 60

The section on kite flying conveys how thrilling it is in several ways. First of all Amir says a prayer – ‘koran ayat’ – before he plays. This is like a charm to protect himself. A series of similes are used to reinforce the thrill of kite-flying. He says the players are like Olympic athletes showing their gold medals. This suggests that they have gone through a tough competition to get where they are and suggests feelings of victory. The kites are also described as “paper sharks roaming for prey”, this makes it sound like the game they are playing is deadly and dangerous, again ramping up the sense of adrenaline. The last simile is that the kites looked “like shooting stars”. This tells us how beautiful they were to watch.

4. Show how sentence structure helps to reinforce how focused Amir is on winning both the tournament and his father’s approval on p. 61

There are a series of short sentences used which demonstrate Amir’s focus like ‘the blue kite’. His thoughts are becoming very centred on winning. In particular he tells us and convinces himself that “I was going to win”. A colon is used to add information that the competition is near an end point and that now there is only two of them left.
Parenthesis also adds that all Amir was thinking about was winning.
The use of ‘I’ and ‘me’ at the start of sentences demonstrates Amir is aware of only himself and the tournament.

5. Study Hosseini’s description of Amir’s ‘out of body experience’ on p. 62. How does this momentary pause motivate Amir into action?

This pause allows Amir to see what he needs to do. He can see himself and he smiles at himself which pushes him onto victory.

6. Comment on the effectiveness of the structure of the sentence beginning “and that right there was the single greatest moment…” p. 63

A list is used to build up a sense of Amir’s emotions. The sentence begins with the conjunction ‘and’ which tags it on to the rest of the paragraph and emphasises that this is a separate but linked point which expresses this is the happiest Amir had been up until that point. The placement of “at last” at the end of the sentence emphasises just how long Amir had been waiting for Baba’s approval.

7. What is the significance of Hassan’s final word to Amir on p.63

Hassan’s final words to Amir are “for you a thousand times over” shows the extent of Hassan’s devotion to Amir. Also becomes a motif throughout the novel of one’s devotion to another.

8. In light of later events, how do these words seem poignant?

Hassan refuses to give up the kite, proving he meant what he said. Amir’s loyalty to Hassan does not work like this though as he betrays Hassan by not stepping forward.

9. How do word choice and sentence structure reinforce Amir’s buoyant mood in the first paragraph on p. 64?

colon – to expand on how he plans the scene in his head
One word sentences – places a great deal of importance on these things. This shows how much Amir wants them from his father.
Rhetorical questions – Amir doesn’t know what else will happen. He has not planned beyond that point of celebration.
Elipses – a moments pause whilst Amir and the reader envision the scene.

“warrior”, “hero” – word choice, victorious champions of violence .
“prized trophy” – treasured reward for which one worked hard
“bloodied hands” – pride in his wounds, which prove his might
“worthiness” – deserving of his father’s attention.
“grand entrance” – dramatic scene
“Rostram and Sohrab” – pictures a happy ending to the tale, over the sad.
Vindication, salvation, redemption. – everything will be fine now