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Page history last edited by msward 8 years, 3 months ago


Table of Contents for this page


First the Basics:


A Bit About Formalist Criticism


  1. The critic's interest ultimately should be focused on the work itself (not on the author's intention or the reader's response).
  2. The formalist perspective pays particular attention to issues of form and convention.
  3. The formalist perspective says that a literary work should be treated as an independent and self-sufficient object.



  1. Read closely. You can assume that every aspect is carefully calculated to contribute to the work's figures of speech, point of view, diction, recurrent ideas or events, everything.
  2. The methods used in this perspective are those of close reading: detailed and subtle analysis of the formal components that make up the literary work, such as the meanings and interactions of the words, figures of speech, and symbols.
  3. Say how the work is unified: how the various elements work to unify it.


Taken from Deborah Appleman's Critical Encounters in High School English


Applying Formalist Criticism to The Kite Runner:



"...There is only one sin, only one.  And that sin is theft."(17)  Baba tells Amir that all sins are rooted to theft.  For example if you kill a man, you stole his life, or if you cheated on a man with his wife then you are stealing the man of his wife.  Baba isn't basing his beliefs on what everyone else thinks, but he has his own point of view on the world and the sins of the world. 

Tim L


“During the school year. . . .Hassan stayed home and helped Ali with the day’s chores” (27). This shows how Hassan is subservient to Amir. This display of frienship dynamics, I feel, will play a role later in the book.

Samson HS


"Lore has it my father once wrestled a black bear with his bare hands" (12).  This is a hyperbole because he didn't really wrestle a bear but they tried to show his strength.

Ryan L




Literary Criticism and The Kite Runner:

Linked below are student developed resources to help readers better understand the depth and complexities of Khaled Hosseini'sThe Kite Runner. These pages were put together in conjunction with our study of literary criticism.



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