For years psychologists have studied how people evolve. Some believe that we are predetermined through genetics. Cliches such as, “The acorn does not fall far from the tree,” suggest that parents and lineage are the greatest influence. Others believe that role models are more influential. Another cliche “like father, like son” did not derive out of nowhere. The book, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hossieni, exemplifies this belief. Early in their relationship, the protagonists, father Baba and son Amir appear very different.
Amir glorifies his father but is disappointed when it is not reciprocated. Despite their initial differences, their parallels are shown as the book progresses. These similarities become even more obvious when the pair flee to America. Then, a shocking secret is revealed that forever tests the relationship of Baba and Amir. This forms the basis of the novel: the underlying similarities between Baba and Amir. Baba and Amir are similar because they both betray someone they love, they both express remorse for their betrayal and they both ultimately redeem themselves.
Amir and Baba were both willing to betray people that they loved for their own gain. Early in the novel, a local bully confronts Amir and Hassan. The bully, Assef, threatens to beat them up and hurt them. It is at this time that Hassan steps in with his signature slingshot and threatens to shoot Assef. He stands up to Assef, calmly stating, “You are right Agha. But perhaps you didn’t notice that I’m the one who is holding the slingshot. If you make a move they’ll have to change your nickname from ‘Assef the Ear Eater’ to ‘One Eyed Assef,’ because I have this rock pointed at your eye (Hosseini, 45-46). Assef, like most of the neighborhood kids, knows Hassan is deadly accurate with his slingshot. Assef wisely retreats. However, he warns Hassan, “You should know something about me Hazara,” Assef says gravely. “I’m a very patient person. This doesn’t end today believe me. (Hosseini, 46). ” Assef’s threat shows how Hassan’s bravery saved Amir. Amir remains silent to keep himself safe and to avoid Assef’s rage. This incident shows the loyalty of Hassan and the cowardice of Amir. He was willing to face his fears to protect himself and Amir. Later in the novel, Amir witnesses Assef bullying
Hassan. This incident occurs shortly after the kite-fighting tournament. Amir wins the tournament and Hassan tells him that he will run the final kite for Amir “a thousand times over. ” This reaffirms Hassan’s loyalty. Hassan stays true to his promise and runs the kite successfully for Amir. Assef then corners Hassan and offers a compromise. Assef claims that if Hassan were to give up the kite, Assef would let him go unharmed. However, Hassan remains loyal to Amir and refuses this settlement. Hassan cries, “Amir agha won the kite tournament and I ran this kite for him. I ran it fairly.
This is his kite (Hosseini, 77). ” Upon hearing this, Assef states that he will do something so terrible to Hassan, that Hassan will forever remember his choice. Assef begins to rape Hassan. Amir is hiding behind a pillar and witnesses the injustice-taking place. He has a moment to collect himself and consider his options. Amir thinks to himself, “I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step in that alley; stand up for Hassan— the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past— and accept whatever would happen to me.
Or I could run. In the end I ran (Hosseini, 82). ” In his cowardice, Amir only protects himself. He clearly remembered how Hassan defended him yet he would not intervene to protect his friend. It is then revealed that years earlier, Baba had also betrayed a loved one. Ali and Baba had known each other practically their entire existence. Baba’s family adopted Ali as a servant after his parents were killed in a car accident. Baba and Ali were approximately the same age and developed a close bond that continued throughout their lives. As they got older, Ali settled down and married.
The pair tried desperately to have a child but were unsuccessful. The woman left Ali for his inability to father a child and later gave birth to three children. This isolated Ali as the one who was sterile. However, when Ali remarried another woman, Sanaubar, she surprisingly became pregnant. Ali realized that Baba was the true father. This became a major problem for Baba because he was of a much higher social status than Sanaubar. Having a child with a lower class citizen was scandalous in Afghanistan. Furthermore, adultery was considered a major sin in Afghanistan.
Many citizens considered the crime worse than murder. Ali understood Baba’s dilemma. He agreed to treat the child like his own and remain silent about the incident. This loyalty contrasted greatly to Baba’s self-centeredness. Ali kept Baba’s sin safe and the gossip and rumors never spread to the public beyond Rahim Khan. Baba never even told his own son, Amir, about his mistake. In fact, Amir does not find out about the incident until a conversation with Rahim Khan nearly thirty years later. “Ali was sterile,’ Rahim Khan said ‘No he wasn’t. He and Sanaubar had Hassan, didn’t they? ’ ‘No they didn’t. ‘Yes they did! ’ ‘No, they didn’t Amir. ’ ‘Then who—‘ ‘I think you know who (Hosseini, 234). ” By saying this, Rahim Khan finally breaks the silence that Baba had instigated. Amir feels a great deal of anger towards Baba and Rahim for not telling him of the incident sooner. Amir feels like his entire life was a lie. In his anger, Amir storms out of the apartment before being confronted by Rahim Khan: “Amir jan please don’t leave’ I opened the door and turned to him, ‘Why? What can you possibly say to me? I’m thirty-eight years old and I’ve just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie!
What can you say to make things better? Nothing. Not a goddamn thing! And with that, I stormed out of the apartment (Hosseini, 235). ” The anger Amir felt when Rahim Khan told him of Baba’s sin is apparent. It was the only time throughout the novel that Amir cursed. Furthermore, Amir was generally very respectful to Rahim and referred to Rahim as “his first adult friend. ” Amir now realizes that he betrayed not only his best friend, but also his brother Hassan. Obviously, Amir is feeling betrayed by Baba as well. Guilt and remorse for past sins seemed to follow betrayal for both Amir and Baba.
Amir dealt with his guilt in a negative way. After not defending Hassan, he becomes too ashamed to look at him. Each encounter with Hassan reminds Amir of his lack of courage. Amir becomes an outcast in his own home, shutting his door and reading for hours. Any attempt by Hassan to rekindle their relationship is quickly shut down by Amir. This guilt must have been difficult for Hassan to understand. A few weeks after the incident, Baba and Amir take a vacation in order to relax. Hassan stays home because he feels sick but Amir cannot take his mind off of his friend. This causes Amir to become sick and throw up.
After pulling over Amir thinks about Hassan: “I closed my eyes, turned to the sun. Little shapes formed behind my eyelids, like hands playing shadows on the wall. They twisted, merged and formed a single image: Hassan’s brown corduroy pants discarded in a pile of old bricks in the alley (Hosseini, 89). This shows how Amir is completely riddled with guilt. Although Ali and Baba are on vacation and trying to have a fun time, he cannot take his mind off of his betrayal. As Amir lies awake at night he states, “I watched Hassan get raped,’ I said to no one. Baba stirred in his sleep.
Kaka Homanyoun grunted. A part of me was hoping someone would wake up and hear, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore. But no one woke up and in the silence that followed, I understood the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it (Hosseini, 91). ” Amir feels like he deserves punishment for his sin. In fact, Amir craves punishment because he feels like this would end his regret and suffering. However, his “curse” was that no one was punishing him. Obsessed with his guilt, Amir comes to one resolution: to attempt to rid himself of all reminders of his sin.
This meant attempting to have Hassan evicted from the house. Amir waits until an opportune moment before putting his plan into action. After celebrating his birthday, Amir has a surplus of gifts and cash lying in his bedroom. To frame Hassan, Amir places several rolls of cash and a present under Hassan’s mattress. He then informs Baba that Hassan has stolen the items. Eventually, Ali and Hassan are not evicted by Baba, but rather choose to leave the property. The pair believe the house is no longer safe for Hassan and, with his best interests in hand, move.
They do so because Amir is unstable in Hassan’s presence. All of these incidents reveal the extent to which Amir is consumed with his remorse. Amir’s guilt resulted in his friendship with Hassan being lost forever. Amir’s remorse and guilt does not end for almost thirty years. After Hassan leaves, Amir and his father flee the war in Afghanistan and move to America. Amir does not return to Afghanistan until he receives a call from Rahim Khan. Rahim tells him that he is dying and that he wants to see Amir one last time before he passes. Amir agrees and within the week travels back to his homeland.
Rahim tells Amir that he must rescue Hassan’s son Sohrab and bring him to a better situation. Eventually, it is discovered that a Taliban man is now caring for Sohrab. Amir confronts this man and learns that it is Assef. Assef says that Amir must fight him in order to “earn” Sohrab. Assef dominates Amir in the fight but is unsuccessful in breaking his spirit. Amir thinks, “What was so funny was that, for the first time since 1975, I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that in some hidden nook in a corner of my mind even I had been looking forward to this (Hosseini, 303). In saying this, Amir literally means that he is proud to finally get what he deserved. The “curse” that had haunted Amir for many years had finally been lifted. This brings about a point Rahim Khan raised earlier in the novel, “a man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer. ” This quotation applies to both Amir and Assef. After raping Hassan earlier as a teenager, Assef committed a great sin. However, his lack of a conscience meant that he did not regret his actions. In fact, when Assef is reintroduced back into the novel as a member of the Taliban he seems like much the same person as before.
Assef is still very intimidating and demands respect. The only change has been the evolution from hate crimes such as bullying and rape to the large-scale genocide of the Hazara race. On the contrary, Amir does have a conscience and suffers a great deal. Amir constantly thinks about not defending Hassan. The incident continues to haunt him as an adult. It is not until after the fight with Assef that Amir finally feels peace. Amir feels like he finally got what he deserved for his sin thirty years prior. Baba also experiences guilt after his crime and Baba’s guilt deprives him of something that all Afghan’s hold sacred: religion.
In Afghanistan, most of the citizens are Islamic. They are devout to this faith and will stop all tasks to pray five times a day. However, Baba was never religious, even going as far to say, “Piss on the beards of those self-righteous monkeys. They do nothing but thumb their rosaries and recite a book written in tongue they don’t even understand. God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands (Hosseini, 18). ” Baba did not approve of religions because the Mullah’s are very strict when it comes to sins. Devout religious followers considered adultery as one of the worst sins.
They suggested that people who committed this sin would end up going to hell. Baba scoffed at religion because he was guilty of adultery. Perhaps Baba did not want to have to hear the Mullah preach about the atrocities of hell and the sinners that belong there. After committing their sins, the novel shows the way Baba and Amir parallel each other. Both dealt with their sins and guilt in a negative manner. Both neglected to face the lack of integrity in their decisions. Baba loses religion; something all Afghan’s hold dear. Amir loses a friend and holds onto his grief for nearly thirty years.
Finally, both Amir and Baba continue in their similar ways with another step in the process: recovery. This introduces the final topic of discussion: redemption. Webster’s online dictionary defines redemption as “the saving or improving of something that has declined into a poor state. ” It is fair to state that both Baba and Amir redeemed themselves later in life after their initial sins. After committing his sin, Baba feels very ashamed. However, he deals with his secret son in a positive manner. After fathering Hassan, Baba had the social power to banish the child from his sight forever.
Despite this, Baba did not and treated Hassan well from birth. In fact, Baba treated Hassan so well that Amir became jealous of Hassan. Baba never forgot Hassan’s birthday and would chat with him about soccer. Furthermore, Baba paid for a pricey clef lip operation for Hassan. This happened suddenly when Hassan arrived home on his birthday. The following confrontation occurred soon after: “Hassan,’ Baba said, smiling coyly, ‘meet your birthday present. ’ Hassan and I traded blank looks. There was no gift-wrapped box in sight. No bag. No toy.
Just Ali standing behind us and Baba with this slight Indian fellow who looked a little like a mathematics teacher (Hosseini, 48)” These acts of gratitude were abnormal treatment for a servant’s son. Baba’s treatment of Hassan shows that, despite his sin, Baba still managed to derive some good out of the situation. Hassan was not the only person that Baba affected due to his sin. After committing his sin Baba felt as though he “owed” the world his best behavior. Due to this, Baba became the model citizen. It was almost as though Baba was trying to contend to God that he was still a good person despite his sin.
In fact, Baba opened an orphanage in order to help local children. He personally funded the entire project and even drew up the blueprints despite his lack of architectural experience. The orphanage became a great success, helping local Afghan children for years. Actions like these earned the respect of fellow Afghan’s and redeemed Baba in a small way. Rahim Khan says of Baba’s actions, “ I think everything he did, feeding the poor, giving money to friends in need, was all a way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe is what true redemption is Amir jan, when guilt leads to good (Hosseini, 316). Rahim accurately describes Baba’s actions, as it was out of guilt that Baba completed his acts of compassion. Amir also redeems himself after his sin. Thirty years later, Amir rescues Sohrab; Hassan’s son who is now an orphan after the Taliban killed Hassan. Amir does not initially agree to the task citing that he cannot put himself into danger for the sake of his wife, Soraya. However, Rahim Khan states, “There is a way to be good again. ” This statement makes Amir think of the time he chose to not defend Hassan years earlier. Amir understands that he can redeem himself by rescuing the boy.
Amir ponders, “There is a way to be good again he’d said. A way to end the cycle with a little boy. An orphan. Hassan’s son. Somewhere in Kabul (Hosseini, 239). ” This shows how Amir felt as though he owed it to Hassan for not standing up to Assef. Amir also feels he can redeem himself for not helping Hassan. By saving Sohrab, Amir ends the cycle of guilt and remorse that has plagued him for nearly his entire life. The growth of Amir as a person and the similarities between Amir and his father form an underlying theme in The Kite Runner.
Amir and Baba share many similarities in the way they lived their lives and dealt with their pain. Amir and Baba both betray the ones they love, feel guilty about their sins and redeem themselves for their earlier mistakes later in life. Were these similarities due to genetics or a father providing a role model for his son? It is clear that the characters of Amir and Baba parallel each other throughout the story. It is ironic that it was Rahim Khan who noticed the ultimate good if both father and son in, The Kite Runner. Works Cited Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Anchor Canada, 2003. Print.