a broken piece of a brittle artifact
When we were children, Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees in the driveway of my father’s house and annoy our neighbors by reflecting sunlight into their homes with a
shard of mirror.
Here, Amir and Hassan are using a shard of a mirror simply to be annoying boys. But the definition hints at the more significant meaning of the image. The novel is written as a first-person memoir, which is essentially looking into a mirror, reflecting on oneself, and shining light onto specific memories to make sense of one's life. The shard represents the nature of memories, especially those that are difficult to remember or face.
attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
We took turns with the mirror as we ate mulberries,
pelted each other with them, giggling, laughing.
Here, Amir and Hassan are pelting each other in a teasing way, but this scene contrasts with two later scenes where the more violent and militaristic meaning of "pelt" (as seen in the definition) is shown.
having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value
Everyone agreed that my father, my Baba, had built the most beautiful house in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, a new and
affluent neighborhood in the northern part of Kabul.
The curved wall led into the dining room, at the center of which was a mahogany table that could easily sit thirty guests— and, given my father’s taste for
extravagant parties, it did just that almost every week.
People had raised their eyebrows when Ali, a man who had memorized the Koran, married Sanaubar, a woman nineteen years younger, a beautiful but notoriously
unscrupulous woman who lived up to her dishonorable reputation.
lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
But despite sharing ethnic heritage and family blood, Sanaubar joined the neighborhood kids in taunting Ali. I have heard that she made no secret of her
disdain for his appearance.
add a flaw to; make imperfect or defective
They said Ali had married his cousin to help restore some honor to his uncle’s
blemished name, even though Ali, who had been orphaned at the age of five, had no worldly possessions or inheritance to speak of.
relatedness or connection by blood or marriage or adoption
Then he would remind us that there was a brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a
kinship that not even time could break.
Another definition of "kinship" is "a close connection marked by community of interests"--this also fits the example sentence, since Amir and Hassan shared the same wet nurse and grew up with each other, but as far as they knew, they did not have any blood, marriage or adoption connections. But in using the word "brotherhood" Ali is emphasizing the first definition.
unwilling to submit to authority
My father was a force of nature, a towering Pashtun specimen with a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair as
unruly as the man himself, hands that looked capable of uprooting a willow tree, and a black glare that would “drop the devil to his knees begging for mercy,” as Rahim Khan used to say.
laugh at with contempt and derision
scoffed that Baba would never marry well—after all, he was not of royal blood—he wedded my mother, Sofia Akrami, a highly educated woman universally regarded as one of Kabul’s most respected, beautiful, and virtuous ladies.
lasting for a markedly brief time
We’d had a
fleeting good moment—it wasn’t often Baba talked to me, let alone on his lap—and I'd been a fool to waste it.
making lively and joyful
I found the idea of Baba clobbering a thief both
exhilarating and terribly frightening.
This is the feeling of a twelve-year-old Amir. An eighteen-year-old Amir did not have any "exhilarating" feelings when he actually watched his father nearly choke another man to death.
a disposition to be distant and unsympathetic in manner
That was how I escaped my father’s
aloofness, in my dead mother’s books.
offering little or no hope
But Baba sensed my lack of genuine interest and resigned himself to the
bleak fact that his son was never going to either play or watch soccer.
without fault or error
The police brought the somewhat contrite young men and the dead couple’s five-year-old orphan boy before my grandfather, who was a highly regarded judge and a man of
everlastingly; for all time
Never mind that to me, the face of Afghanistan is that of a boy with a thin-boned frame, a shaved head, and low-set ears, a boy with a Chinese doll face
perpetually lit by a harelipped smile.
not possible to contradict
Sometimes, my entire childhood seems like one long lazy summer day with Hassan, chasing each other between tangles of trees in my father’s yard, playing hide-and-seek, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, insect torture—with our crowning achievement undeniably the time we plucked the stinger off a bee and tied a string around the poor thing to yank it back every time it took flight.
something done or paid in expiation of a wrong
So I’d try to make up for it by giving him one of my old shirts or a broken toy. I would tell myself that was
amends enough for a harmless prank.
something causing misery or death
Rostam mortally wounds his valiant
nemesis, Sohrab, in battle, only to discover that Sohrab is his long-lost son.
Two other definitions of "nemesis" are "an unbeatable rival" and "one that inflicts retribution or vengeance": while the tenth-century Persian warrior Sohrab might've been Rostam's unbeatable rival at one point, when Rostam finally beats him, that causes him misery. All three definitions could apply to the twentieth-century Afghani bully Assef, who is Amir and Hassan's nemesis.
call upon in supplication
For I sought to turn thee unto love, and I
implored of thee thy name, for I thought to behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother.
maintain, as a theory, thought, or feeling
After all, didn’t all fathers in their secret hearts
harbor a desire to kill their sons?
lacking conscious awareness of
I pretended I was reading from the book, flipping pages regularly, but I had abandoned the text altogether, taken over the story, and made up my own. Hassan, of course, was
oblivious to this.
Baba nodded and gave a thin smile that conveyed little more than
Of all the neighborhood boys who tortured Ali, Assef was by far the most
resist doing something
It also occurred to me how lucky I was to have Baba as my father, the sole reason, I believe, Assef had mostly
refrained from harassing me too much.
deeply rooted; firmly fixed or held
He’d referred to Assef as “Agha,” and I wondered briefly what it must be like to live with such an
ingrained sense of one’s place in a hierarchy.
a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude
But Hassan’s face was my earliest memory and I knew all of its subtle
nuances, knew each and every twitch and flicker that ever rippled across it.
a feeling of alarm or dread
Neither one of us said much of anything as we walked home in
trepidation, certain that Assef and his friends would ambush us every time we turned a corner.
suggestive of the supernatural; mysterious
It was downright
eerie the way he always got to the spot the kite would land before the kite did, as if he had some sort of inner compass.
capable of life or normal growth and development
I was going to win. There was no other
Although the twelve-year-old Amir felt that winning the kite tournament was a matter of life and death (or at least not being a ghost to his father), the older Amir as the narrator invests the word "viable" with more significant meaning, because he knows that his choices after winning the tournament led to unviable situations for Hassan.