The Portrait of Sohrab. Viktoriya Spiridonova, 4th year student, BSU, Ulan-Ude

Sohrab is the son of Hassan and Farzana. In many ways, Sohrab acts as a substitute for Hassan in the novel, and he is a central focus of the plot in the later sections of the book.

Amir finds out about Sohrab’s existence when he visits Rahim Khan  in Pakistan. He asks him to rescue Sohrab from the orphanage. Sohrab is not only Hassan’s child but Amir’s nephew because Hassan is his half-brother. During his searches Amir got to know that Sohrab was sold to a Taliban official. It turned out that Sohrab was raped for a long time. Amir tried to take Sohrab away, but as a result, he had a fight with Assef. Sohrab saved Amir, using his slingshot.

Sohrab is a dynamic character. He had a very difficult life and we can see how the character changes. For example, at the Polaroid photo we can observe a happy child, and then later at Taliban’s and after that at the hotel we see a depressed and reserved boy.

In order to make the basis of further analysis of Sohrab, I’d like to comment upon his name. So, Sohrab was named after Hassan’s favorite hero from the “Shahnamah”, a warrior. In Persian, the name Sohrab means- name of a hero. According to etymology the boy with such a name has such qualities as strength and pride. He knows when he isn’t right but he can’t take it easy and blame himself. So, the etymology of the name reveals some traits of Sohrab’s character.

Now, I’d like to pass over to the Sohrab’s appearance. As we can observe, Sohrab has many similarities in his apperence, habits and character with his father – Hassan. For the first time readers get to know Sohrab’s appearance in the 17th  chapter, when Rahim Khan gave Amir the photo of Hassan and his family: The little boy stood bare foot, one arm wrapped around the man’s thigh, his shaved head resting against his father’s hip. He too was grinning and squinting.

Then, the author describes him in more detail in the chapter where Amir meets Sohrab at Assef’s: The boy had his father’s round moon face, his pointy stub of a chin, his twisted, seashell ears, and the same slight frame. It was the Chinese doll face of my childhood, the face peering above fanned-out playing cards all those winter days, the face behind the mosquito net when we slept on the roof of my father’s house in the summer. His head was shaved, his eyes darkened with mascara, and his cheeks glowed with an unnatural red. When he stopped in the middle of the room, the bells strapped around his anklets stopped jingling.I took Sohrab’s hand. It was small, the skin dry and calloused. His fingers moved, laced themselves with mine.

In order to describe him brightly the author uses epithets: father’s round moon face, his pointy stub of a chin, his twisted, seashell ears and metaphors: It was the Chinese doll face of my childhood, the face peering above fanned; his eyes darkened with mascara, and his cheeks glowed with an unnatural red.

This extract shows us a small, skinny boy, who probably was starving for a long time. The fact that he has a make-up proves that he was tortured and raped for all the time that he lived with Assef.

Talking about Sohrab’s traits of character, we can see that he is brave, because he wasn’t afraid of Assef and those things that he could done with him, moreover he showed his courage and saved Amir’s life. He is very intelligent and perceptive, at a very young age. The situation with “sour apples” will help us to prove it: “I don’t mind. I can wait. It’s like the sour apples”. “Sour apples?” “One time, when I was really little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn’t have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples.” “Sour apples,” I said. “_Mashallah_, you’re just about the smartest little guy I’ve ever met, Sohrab jan.” His ears reddened with a blush.

He is very polite talking with elder people even with Assef, he addresses them as “Agha” (The word “Agha” in Afgan culture is a word of respect for people).

This situation also highlights that Sohrab learns by his own mistakes and he is very shy. He also is not vengeful at all, and does not lash out or blame others for his misfortunes, though he blamed himself for being raped by Talibans.

He is also very religious, so he is afraid of being punished by God for the fact that he hurt Assef and for being sexually abused: “I’ve been thinking a lot about mosques lately,” Sohrab said. “Will God…” he began, and choked a little. “Will God put me in hell for what I did to that man?” “Do you think Father is disappointed in me?” “I miss Father, and Mother too,” he croaked. “And I miss Sasa and Rahim Khan. But sometimes I’m glad they’re not … they’re not here anymore.” “Because—” he said, gasping and hitching between sobs, “because I don’t want them to see me… I’m so dirty.” He sucked in his breath and let it out in a long, wheezy cry. “I’m so dirty and full of sin”.

So, that also helps us to understand why he washes all the time. So he has a psychological trauma and it is really difficult for him to trust people, his life made him mistrustful and observant. It takes him a lot of time to believe Amir that he will take him to America and will not send him into an orphanage.

He is brave, but he is only a child and it is very difficult for him to live in the harsh world without any support. That’s why, when Amir said that Sohrab will have to spend some time in the orphanage, Sohrab decided to commit suicide. We know, that commiting suicide is one of the worst sins in all religions, but for Sohrab there is only one way out. He gave up. As I have already mentioned it is difficult for Sohrab to trust people, that’s why, when he came to America he became reserved and stop talking to people.

For me the image of Sohrab in the book is the image of all children who live in the time of war. I’m pretty sure that Khaled Hosseini described himself in order to show all horrors of war. I’m pretty sure that nowadays there are thousands of orphans in the Middle East who were tortured and raped.

I really like Sohrab, his courage, and in my opinion, he should be the main character of the story. There should be one more book devoted to Sohrab and his life, I think.

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