You Cannot Outrun the Past

In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, the protagonist Amir commits a crime so great that it continually haunts him throughout his life.  This crime is that of betrayal, in which he fails to save his own brother, Hassan, from being raped and abused by Assef.  However, Amir does very little to make amends for his crimes and instead tries his hardest to push away his memories of the event and to bury his demons deep within himself so that he may forget the whole ordeal.  In this sense, Amir is truly a coward for he is unable to confront his problems head on.  Because of his great fear, he is unable to deal with his issues, and instead pushes them away.  This can be seen through Amir’s attempts to have Ali and Hassan removed from his family’s service when he was younger.  After Hassan’s rape, Amir barely spoke with Hassan and instead avoided him entirely.  Through Amir and Hassan’s confrontation at the pomegranate tree, the reader can see just how greatly Amir’s guilt is tormenting him.  Amir yearns for punishment for his crimes, yet he receives none from Hassan, therefore Amir banishes him from his life by framing him of theft.  Amir’s journey to America serves as another example of his attempt to escape his past.  America represents Amir’s opportunity to start over and to forget as well as to be forgotten.  Amir describes America as “a river, roaring along, unmindful of the past” that would bring him “someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins” (Hosseini 114).  However, criminals cannot go with out being punished.  Amir continues to experience guilt even after arriving in America, describing himself as an insomniac.  It was only through his return to Afghanistan in which Amir could truly begin to heal, for Afghanistan represents Amir’s guilt and crimes and all that he so desperately tries to push away throughout the course of the story.  It is only through facing his past crimes in which he can find satisfaction and overcome his guilt.
Works Cited: Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner.  Riverhead Books, 29 May 2003

Amir and Hassan: Master and Servant, Brother and Brother

Khaled Hosseini’s debut novel, The Kite Runner, explores the relationship between master and servant through the lives of Baba and Ali, and again through Amir and Hassan. Despite growing up together and “[having] fed from the same breast”, there was a disconnect between Amir and Hassan within their friendship that was rooted in pride, entitlement, and ignorance (Hosseini 11). Amir, by being put in a position of power over Hassan in the way a master is over a servant, follows in his father’s footsteps as “Baba [never refers] to Ali as his friend”, and in the same way, Amir “never [thinks] of Hassan and [himself] as friend either” (Hosseini 25). The relationship between that of a master and servant is never broken for Amir, but to Hassan, Amir is his best friend, someone he would later die for. By using their societal differences as the great divider in their friendship, Amir is able to justify to himself the betrayal of his best friend. Later in life, once he realizes that Hassan was not merely “just a Hazara”, but his half-brother, his own flesh and blood, Amir recognizes the weight of his betrayal and resents his ignorance of this fact (Hosseini 77). This shift in perspective shows how Amir, by being raised in a house of privilege, has clearly differing opinions on the respect deserved by a mere servant to that which one owes to family.

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead Books, 29 May 2003

The Pomegranate Tree

In Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, the readers are shown a single pomegranate tree that serves as a very important symbol throughout the novel. The tree is a symbol for Amir and Hassan’s relationship. Amir carves the phrase, “Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul” (Hosseini 21) into the tree.This is at the strongest point in their relationship, the most innocent stage of their lives. However, this tree was also where Hassan and Amir fight. The fight is very one sided and mostly consists of Amir trying to relieve his guilt and provoke a physical fight between the two. This fight has 2 important symbolic elements that characterize Amir and Hassan. Amir feels a need for punishment for his sin, not helping Hassan in the alley and saving him from Assef. Amir needs to atone for his sin and he thinks the only way is for Hassan to physically hurt him, or even yell, he just wants a negative reaction from Hassan that will relieve his guilt. Amir thinks, “I wished he’d give me the punishment i crave, so maybe I’d finally sleep at night” (78). However, Hassan will not hurt Amir. This shows Hassan’s undying loyalty and benevolence. Hassan loves Amir and even though what Amir does is heinous, Hassan will always love Amir and will never hurt him. Along with the location of the tree being symbolic, the state of the tree is symbolic as well. The tree is extremely lively and fruitful during the peak of Hassan and Amir’s friendship. However, when Amir goes back to Afghanistan in his adulthood, the tree is completely barren and hasn’t borne fruit in years. The tree being barren is showing that Amir and Hassan’s friendship is not longer fruitful, it is dead, but the tree still being there shows something as well. Amir and Hassan’s love for each other and their bond will never disappear. Hassan searches for his carving and finally found it. Amir notices, “The carving had dulled, almost faded altogether, but it was still there: ‘Amir and Hassan. The sultans of Kabul'” (226). Their friendship, along with the tree, might be barren, faded, and injured, but their love for each other will always be there.

 

Hosseini, Khalid. The Kite Runner. Riverhead Books, 29 May 2003

Amir’s Full-Circle Journey to Becoming “The Kite Runner”

In Khaled Hosseini’s contemporary novel The Kite Runner, protagonist Amir is characterized as petulant, cowardly and blatantly irresponsible through his omissions against his childhood friend, Hassan. Throughout their early relationship, Hosseini portrays them as dichotomous complements to one other. Hassan is more gentle, understanding and obsequious, perhaps to a fault. On the other hand, Amir is a narcissistic and jealous child which drives him to convict the heinous acts of being an immobile bystander of Hassan’s sexual assault and furthermore attempting and succeeding in driving out Hassan and his father, Ali, out of the house. Amir’s guilt over this follows him his entire young adult life. Rahim Kahn’s letter in which he divulges the secret of Hassan’s paternity states, “[Baba] was a man torn between two halves, Amir jan, you and Hassan” (Hosseini 301). Amir reflects upon this later, saying Hassan was “the half that inherited what had been pure and noble in Baba” (359). This understanding that he was somehow lacking in Baba’s unadulterated heroic quality explains to Amir that his pursuit for Baba’s approval would never have been found in winning a competition or even becoming a political presence in Afghanistan, but rather in Amir’s treatment of others and intrinsic morality. Amir never really understands why he fell short of Baba’s expectation time and time again, and if he ever did exceed them, why this grace period always expired. In rescuing and adopting Sohrab, Amir is on a quest to become the kite runner himself, as it comes to symbolize something larger – Hassan’s undying loyalty. He wants to become someone who both Baba and Hassan would be proud of. Echoing the words of the kite runner before him who he aspires to become, Amir says, “For you, a thousand times over” (371).

Works Cited

Hosseini, Khalid. The Kite Runner. Riverhead Books, 29 May 2003.

Amir’s Need for Soraya

Time and time again, Amir is seen looking for guidance in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.  However Amir can never find what he is looking for in his father, friend, or confidant (Rahim Kahn). The person he is looking for is a woman.  Amir grew up only knowing that his mother was “highly educated…regarded as one of Kabul’s most respected, beautiful and virtuous ladies”, making her something of a fairytale (Hosseini 11). However, when he meets Soraya, she becomes the only woman in his life with any lasting importance. Soraya shows genuine interest in Amir’s stories, much like Hassan, but the effect of a female is much more influential. Soraya gives Amir the satisfaction of pleasing someone with some sort of power over him. She symbolizes something of a mother figure in Amir’s life as he navigates a life of self discovery and guilt. Soraya relates deeply to her husband in the sense that they both come from pasts full of regret and mistakes. Amir learns over the phone that Soraya lived with an Afghan man as a “rebellious… stupid” 18 year old girl (141). 15 years later, Amir opens up to Soraya in a similar phone call as he explains his childhood and how it “change(d) the course of a whole lifetime” (119). Without a mother, Amir grew up lost and lacking any sort of affection. Soraya gives him the love he needs and the ability to look past his sins. Amir is given the opportunity to atone for his past transgressions- “a way to be good again”- and takes a leap of faith with the help of the woman who loves him (192). Throughout the novel, the reader is shown sides of Amir’s character exclusively through the use of women, which is what ultimately gives him the confidence and power to change his life for the better.

 

 

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead Books, 29 May 2003.

Memories of the Past

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner tells the story of an Afghan man who recounts his life’s experiences after the social and physical deterioration of his homeland. Characters in this novel are constantly affected by their individual memories of the past which leads to the decisions they make as they age. The protagonist, Amir, is the character who is undoubtedly most affected by his past. In his youth, Amir stands by an alley as his best friend Hassan is sexually assaulted by a neighborhood sociopath. This memory takes a toll on Amir that lasts decades, despite his attempts to forget about it. His efforts are proved fruitless when Amir blatantly recognizes that “[he had] been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years” (Hosseini 2). Even when Amir is a grown man living in America, he does not feel at ease because the decision he made to abandon his most loyal friend in his childhood constantly haunts him. That very decision is what leads him to make a new decision of seeking out Hassan’s son in hopes of long overdue redemption. Another character heavily affected by his past is Baba. His greatest sin was impregnating his childhood best friend’s wife. For his whole life, Baba feels obligated to atone for his past sins and he attempts to do so through selfless charity work and special treatment of his illegitimate son. Unfortunately, Baba never truly achieves the redemption he yearns for due to the fact that he keeps his past sin a secret from almost everybody including both his sons. Amir finds out the truth well into his adulthood, but it is not even from Baba himself. Throughout the novel, the reader is able to see how a single event of the past can envelope a character in an inescapable cloud of guilt that follows them around for a majority of their lives. The characters’ memories of the past is what leads them to seek out redemption.

Work Cited:

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead Books, 29 May 2003.

False Admiration

In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Amir ironically tries to gain Baba’s affection through bringing back the winning kite and not intervening on the rape of his best friend Hassan, which Baba would find shameful. Amir spends his life trying to win Baba’s affection because he knows his father is disappointed in how weak he is and he does not take interest in Amir’s writing. Baba goes as far as to say that “if I hadn’t seen seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he was my son” (Hosseini 23). When the kite race is happening, Amir is determined to “show him once and for all that his son is worthy” (56) by winning the race. Amir is so caught up in the idea of winning Baba’s affection that when he sees his loyal best friend Hassan being raped, he does not intervene because he wants the kite and places Baba’s admiration above his friendship. Ironically, Baba would not approve of his decision to not stand up for his best friend and for what is right. Years later, when Baba faces the same situation, he risks his life for a young woman about to be raped. Amir is scared for their safety and tries to stop his father from intervening, but Baba responds “have I taught you nothing?” (116). Amir spends his whole life trying to gain Baba’s affection in big ways like winning the kite race and gaining his approval of his writing, but really his father only cares about Amir standing up for what is right. Baba wants Amir to become the man that would stand up for a complete stranger; not the man who quietly watches it happen. When Amir chooses to be the latter one, Baba and Amir’s relationship is formed from a false admiration Baba has for Amir over winning the kite, not knowing he would be ashamed of his decision to discard the morals he had been teaching him all his life.

Work Cited:

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.