Amir’s journey to redeem himself is the heart of the novel. In the beginning of the book, Amir strives to redeem himself in Baba’s eyes. His grit stems from his mother’s death while she was giving birth to him. His thoughts describe him to feel responsible for her death. On his journey to redeem himself to Baba, Amir believes he needs to win a Kite-Tournament in town. Then, he wants to bring Baba the losing kite as a prize. He believes this will help him seek Baba’s approval. These existential events are what send the rest of the novel into motion.
Baba says that a boy who doesn’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. As a boy, Amir fails to stand up for himself. As an adult, he can only redeem himself by proving he has the courage to stand up for what is right. The most prevalent guilt that existentially causes the climactic events of the book. Amir begins on his journey to Kabul to find Sohrab. He also plans to confront Assef.
Later in the book, Rahim Khan tells Amir about Baba’s betrayal towards him. “Please think, Amir Jan. It was a shameful situation. People would talk. All that a man had back then, all that he was, was his honor, his name, and if people talked…We couldn’t tell anyone, surely you can see that.” (17.57-63) Baba slept with Sanaubar, Ali’s wife, and fathered Hassan. Baba never told Amir and Hassan about it. Rahim Khan’s revelation borderlines the position between making Amir’s life simpler or more difficult. For the first time, Amir notices the similarities between him and his father. He feels as if they share equal or similar amounts of guilt. This gives him some redemption.
Eventually Amir brings on the exile from Baba’s household. (4.23-24). This event existentially leads to where he is killed. Amir, to be expected, takes the blame for Hassan’s death. Amir figures out much too late that Hassan is his brother. He regrets not being able to share a life as brothers.
If you read closely, Hosseini prepares us for Amir’s major betrayal of Hassan. “Eat dirt if I told you to,” I said. I knew I was being cruel, like when I’d taunt him if he didn’t know some big word. But there was something fascinating – albeit in a sick way – about teasing Hassan. Kind of like when we used to play insect torture. Except now, he was the ant and I was holding the magnifying glass. (6.29-34). He inserts his own stories into the tales he reads to Hassan. He refuses defend Hassan from the neighborhood boys. He almost exposes Hassan not his friend, but his servant.
In chapter 7 Amir leaves Hassan in the alleyway. “I could step into 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. (7.137-139).” This coincides with the passage where Amir plants a wad of cash and his watch under Hassan’s mattress. These are two counts of Amir’s major betrayal towards Hassan. Amir never tells Hassan what he said in the alley due to the guilt and fear he feels. We visit Amir’s question to Baba, “Baba, have you ever thought about getting new servants? (8.63).” Amir’s question must’ve caused pain to Baba since Hassan is truly his son. Amir cannot handle any emotions that remind him of his coward moments. But, Baba keeps the reminders of his guilt around. Ali and Hassan are his constant reminders since Baba slept with Ali’s wife and in return, she gave birth to Hassan.
Recounting Amir’s betrayal towards Hassan, “I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it. I waited another thirty minutes. Then I knocked on Baba’s door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies. (9.21-22).” These twisted ideas guide Amir to betray Hassan. Finally, Amir decides to convince Baba to fire Hassan and Ali. Readers are full of emotion when Ali is twisted in Amir’s guilt and jealousy. Ali had no part in the alleyway incident and has served Baba faithfully his whole life, but receives nothing in return but a release of work.
After Assef almost kills him, Amir feels a sense of relief. “What was so funny was that, for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that, in some nook in the corner of my mind, I had been looking forward to this.” (pg 303). After taking his beating from Assef, Amir opens his eyes, acknowledging that he would do anything for Hassan. Finally, he is redeeming himself. He understands the consequences and is standing up for not only Hassan and himself, but for his son too. “You promised you’d never put me in one of those places, Amir agha,” he said. His voice was breaking, tears pooling in his eyes. (24.350-355) Just when you thought Amir did something nice for a change…he goes back on his promise to Sohrab. Amir’s broken promise has disastrous consequences: Sohrab tries to kill himself.
The plot of The Kite Runner revolves around the Amir, the main character’s, betrayal of his best friend, Hassan. The constant cycle of betrayal and need for redemption fuels the book. This existential thought is the cause of everything precedes it. From Amir’s birth to the end of the book, the constant cycle of Redemption vs Betrayal is what makes this book so captivating.
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