After reading some of the passages in this novel, I internally begged God that even my worst enemy should not feel that depth of pain. Khaled Hosseini clearly communicates that survival is next to impossible without compassion, love and solidarity. Before I share some fantastic quotations from this novel, I want to briefly explain the psychology behind pain. During my undergrad, I had learned that when fear takes over a person, pain diminishes. Our professor shared an example of a man who was in the mouth of a tiger and said that fear overwhelmed him so much, that he did not feel any pain. Let me reiterate: He was in the mouth of a tiger and he couldn’t feel the pain!
“Walter Cannon, a Harvard physiologist says that when our fight or flight response is activated, our respiratory rate increases, blood is shunted away from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, which require extra energy and fuel for running and fighting, our pupils dilate, our awareness intensifies, our sight sharpens, our impulses quicken, our perception of pain diminishes, our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight. We scan and search our environment, looking for the enemy. Fear becomes the lens through which we see the world”
So I wonder. If people in countries like Afghanistan live such a stressful life, do they always find themselves in a state of fight-or-flight? The amount of stress-hormones released in this state are destined to kill you. I doubt it. These people have to adopt other ways to deal with their situations. What makes them survive is their selflessness, intuition and courage, characteristics that are brimming in Hassan’s character. I cannot come to terms with this character’s state of mind. I still haven’t. I will probably marvel the characters that Khaled Hosseni created for the rest of my life.
Some fantastic quotations from this novel were“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it. – Amir”
“Time can be a greedy thing-sometimes it steals the details for itself.”
“A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.”
“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft….When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”
“It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”
“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything”
“War doesn’t negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace.”
“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.
“In Kabul, hot running water had been like fathers, a rare commodity.”
“A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. “