"The Kite Runner," Vocabulary from Chapters 15-20

Presenting the history of Afghanistan through the eyes of a boy and his friend, Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner" takes the reader through one upheaval after another, including the Soviet occupation and the rise of the Taliban. Learn this word list that focuses on revelations.

Here are links to our word lists for the novel: Chapters 1-6, Chapters 7-10, Chapters 11-14, Chapters 15-20, Chapters 21-25

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. incessant
    uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
    My driver, a chain-smoking, sweaty little man who introduced himself as Gholam, drove nonchalantly and recklessly, averting collisions by the thinnest of margins, all without so much as a pause in the incessant stream of words spewing from his mouth: “... terrible what is happening in your country, yar.
  2. garrulous
    full of trivial conversation
    A little past the redbrick buildings of Peshawar University, we entered an area my garrulous driver referred to as “Afghan Town.”
  3. sift
    check and sort carefully
    “You don’t want to know, Amir jan, what it was like sifting through the rubble of that orphanage.
  4. pragmatic
    concerned with practical matters
    But I am not surrendering to fate here, I am being pragmatic. I have seen several good doctors here and they have given the same answer. I trust them and believe them. There is such a thing as God’s will.”
  5. affable
    diffusing warmth and friendliness
    Other than that, he had those same narrow green eyes, that scar on his upper lip, that round face, that affable smile.
  6. weary
    physically and mentally fatigued
    He came back the next morning, looking tired and weary, like he had not slept all night.
    When Hassan ran away the night before, he did so because a weak, toothless, slashed-face woman had revealed that she was the mother whom he had never known. Upon returning the next morning, weary as he was, Hassan accepted his long-gone mother back into his life, and with his wife, nursed her back to health, while doing all the cooking, cleaning, and caring for his master's house. "Weary" is not an adjective that Hassan would normally embody.
  7. sober
    completely lacking in playfulness
    I told you how we all celebrated in 1996 when the Taliban rolled in and put an end to the daily fighting. I remember coming home that night and finding Hassan in the kitchen, listening to the radio. He had a sober look in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong, and he just shook his head. “God help the Hazaras now, Rahim Khan sahib,” he said.
    Similar to how Hassan always seemed to know where the kite would land before it became visible overhead, he is aware that the Taliban's arrival, which others saw as a joyful return to peace, meant sober trouble for him and everyone identified as a Hazara. The author gives this quality to Hassan for two reasons: 1) to foreshadow later events and 2) to emphasize that Hassan might be illiterate, but he is smarter than many people in other ways.
  8. rotund
    spherical in shape
    Sunlight slanted in from the left, casting a shadow on half of his rotund face.
    This image reveals a lot about Hassan's nature and life. Although "rotund" also means "excessively fat" that would not describe Hassan because he is too poor to eat well. Rather, the rotundity of Hassan's face connects to his Hazara background and emphasizes his overall sense of wholeness and joy at being alive, despite the shadows that cross his face and path.
  9. exude
    make apparent by one's mood or behavior
    Even in this blurry Polaroid, the man in the chapan exuded a sense of self-assuredness, of ease.
  10. omit
    leave undone or leave out
    No dots were omitted, no crosses forgotten, no words blurred together—the handwriting was almost childlike in its neatness.
  11. sterile
    incapable of reproducing
    “Ali was sterile,” Rahim Khan said.
  12. bellow
    shout loudly and without restraint
    “How could you hide this from me? From him?” I bellowed.
  13. disoriented
    having lost your bearings
    Disoriented, he has to reevaluate his surroundings, reorient himself.
  14. reconcile
    make compatible with
    And how was I going to reconcile this new image of Baba with the one that had been imprinted on my mind for so long, that of him in his old brown suit, hobbling up the Taheris’ driveway to ask for Soraya’s hand?
  15. atone
    make amends for
    And with that came this realization: that Rahim Khan had summoned me here to atone not just for my sins but for Baba’s too.
  16. rueful
    feeling or expressing pain or sorrow for sins or offenses
    “He used to have seven,” Rahim Khan said with a rueful look, but he’d lost his two youngest girls a few years earlier in a land mine blast just outside Jalalabad, the same explosion that had severed toes from his feet and three fingers from his left hand.
  17. cursory
    hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
    Two Pakistani militia approached our dilapidated Land Cruiser, took a cursory glance inside, and waved us on.
  18. ruminate
    reflect deeply on a subject
    I was afraid I’d deliberate, ruminate, agonize, rationalize, and talk myself into not going.
  19. sneer
    a facial expression of contempt or scorn
    “You want to know?” he sneered.
    Farid is sneering at Amir because of his own life (see example sentence for "rueful") and because he sees Amir as a rich tourist who had never known the real Afghanistan and is now visiting from America to sell off land he'd lived luxuriously on while others starved and died. When Amir reveals his actual reason for returning to his birthplace, Farid's attitude towards him softens.
  20. contemptuous
    expressing extreme scorn
    “What brings them all back to Afghanistan, dear brother?” Farid said, speaking to Wahid but fixing me with a contemptuous gaze.
  21. cavernous
    being or suggesting a large dark enclosed space
    He looks down at the blindfolded man before him with eyes that show nothing but a vast, cavernous emptiness.
  22. stupefied
    in a state of mental numbness as resulting from shock
    Farid must have seen my stupefied expression; shuttling people back and forth to Kabul, he would have become familiar with that expression on the faces of those who hadn’t seen Kabul for a long time.
  23. morose
    showing a brooding ill humor
    “Welcome back,” he said morosely.
  24. inflict
    impose something unpleasant
    Just east of it was the Bala Hissar Fort—the ancient citadel that the warlord Dostum had occupied in 1992—on the Shirdarwaza mountain range, the same mountains from which Mujahedin forces had showered Kabul with rockets between 1992 and 1996, inflicting much of the damage I was witnessing now.
  25. obliterate
    reduced to nothingness
    Entire blocks had been obliterated to rubble.
  26. destitute
    poor enough to need help from others
    Returning to Kabul was like running into an old, forgotten friend and seeing that life hadn’t been good to him, that he'd become homeless and destitute.
  27. unadulterated
    without qualification; used informally as intensifiers
    That was the first time I saw the Taliban. I’d seen them on TV, on the Internet, on the cover of magazines, and in newspapers. But here I was now, less than fifty feet from them, telling myself that the sudden taste in my mouth wasn’t unadulterated, naked fear.
  28. profoundly
    to a great depth psychologically
    Now I knew my mother had liked almond cake with honey and hot tea, that she’d once used the word “ profoundly,” that she’d fretted about her happiness.
  29. ravage
    make a pillaging or destructive raid on, as in wartime
    Farid had told me on the way there that Karteh-Seh had been one of the most war- ravaged neighborhoods in Kabul, and, as we stepped out of the truck, the evidence was overwhelming.
  30. ample
    fairly large
    What I have in ample supply here is children who’ve lost their childhood.

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