Road To Redemption: Amir’s Betrayal In Hosseini’s The Kite Runner
Nobody would ever believe that an innocent diversion of kite flying could turn into an epic tale of betrayal and in the end, eventual redemption. Khaled Hosseini in The Kite Runner manages to weld this activity with the journey of one man from betrayer to his redemption. The Kite Runner revolves around Amir, a Sunni Muslim throughout events such as the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan, the mass departure of refugees to the U.S, and Taliban rule. Amir struggles to find his place in the world because of the aftereffects and fallout from a series of traumatic childhood events. Amir now an adult starts the novel in present-day United states with vague descriptions of the events from his childhood back in Afghanistan. Amir had struggled with developing a close relationship with his father, Baba and with determining the exact nature of his relationship with Hassan, his Shi’a Muslim servant. Eventually finding a way to atone for pre-adolescent decisions that have had lasting repercussions. The story itself enables the reader to imagine and experience the daily life of the Afghani people and their culture. The themes of guilt, redemption, and atonement are expressed throughout the novel. The novel shows that individuals tend to seek redemption for their unatoned sins because of their guilt, often through good deeds and acts of kindness. Khaled Hosseini believes differently and thinks individuals can only redeem themselves by fixing their past mistakes.
“Baba decided to build an orphanage. I heard the story through Rahim Khan. He told me Baba had drawn the blueprints himself despite the fact that he’d had no architectural experience at all. Skeptics had urged him to stop his foolishness and hire an architect. Of course, Baba refused, and everyone shook their heads in dismay at his obstinate ways. Then Baba succeeded, and everyone shook their heads in awe at his triumphant ways. Baba paid for the construction of the two-story orphanage, just off the main strip of Jadeh Maywand south of the Kabul River, with his own money. Rahim Khan told me Baba had personally funded the entire project, paying for the engineers, electricians, plumbers, and laborers, not to mention the city officials whose ‘mustaches needed oiling.’ (Hosseini 13) This quote shows that as individuals realize their past mistakes, they, due to guilt, try and redeem themselves and pay for their sins, often through good deeds and random acts of kindness, here Baba is trying to redeem himself and make up for all of his unatoned sins. He is trying to redeem himself through random acts of kindness and good deeds. This quote describes the effort put into the project and how Baba had drawn the blueprints himself without any experience and funded the entire project. Baba was ready to do anything necessary to finish his project. ‘Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself.'(Hosseini 302). These acts of kindness and good deeds performed by Baba may have made him feel better about himself, but proved to be unsuccessful, and Baba had never truly got rid of his guilt and truly redeemed himself. Another example of Baba trying to redeem himself would be his gifts to Hassan. ‘Hassan,’ Baba said, smiling coyly, ‘meet your birthday present.’ ‘I have summoned Dr. Kumar from New Delhi. Dr. Kumar is a plastic surgeon.’ ‘It’s an unusual present, I know,’ Baba said. ‘And probably not what you had in mind, but this present will last you forever.’ (Hosseini 49) Baba has his own difficulty connecting with Amir. He feels guilty treating Amir well when he can’t acknowledge Hassan as his own son. He can only show his love for Hassan indirectly, by bringing Hassan along when he takes Amir out, or paying for Hassan’s lip surgery. Baba feels guilt when it comes to lying to everyone about Hassan being his son. Baba tries to make up for this by never forgetting Hassan’s birthday, paying for his lip surgery, and trying to bring Hassan along everywhere he’d go. Baba tried to redeem himself with random acts of kindness towards Hassan for lying to him, but this did not help, and Baba was still full of guilt and unhappy.
“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 226-227) Khaled Hosseini believes that the only way individuals can redeem themselves is by fixing their past mistakes and to be able to do anything necessary in order to fix their past. Only then will that individual be free of guilt and truly have redeemed themselves. Amir, the protagonist, tries to seek forgiveness and redemption after living twenty six years with unatoned sins. When Amir was twelve, he witnessed his loyal servant and friend, Hassan, get raped in an alley. Amir was too cowardly to intervene and stand up for his dear friend. Later, Amir betrayed Hassan by framing him and forced him to leave their house. These events shaped the rest of the novel as Amir tried to be good again by returning back to Afghanistan and saving Hassan’s son, Sohrab from danger. Amir is reminded of his past and due to his guilt he wants to fix his past and redeem himself to Hassan, by saving his son. ‘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.’ (Hosseini 289). This quote shows how Amir feels at peace after Assef almost kills him. Assef is a bully who raped Hassan as a child. He became a member of the taliban and abuses his power to show the political muscle of the taliban. Amir feels as though taking the beating from Assef is him finally showing that he would do anything for Hassan. He is, in a way, finally redeeming himself for his wrong doing and he is standing up for not only Hassan but his son as well. This shows that amir was ready to do anything necessary, even risk his life to redeem himself to hassan and fix his past mistakes. “The green kite was spinning and wheeling out of control… I looked down at Sohrab. One corner of his mouth had curled up so. A smile. Lopsided. Hardly there. But there” (Hosseini 391). Sohrab begins to open up again after all of Amir’s attempts as a father, because he never gave up on Sohrab after the incident with the orphanage. He treated him like a son, took an interest in him, and finally got Sohrab to open up, leaving the book with a hope for a better tomorrow. Amir has finally learned the true meaning of being a father.
Redemption is not easy to achieve, but sometimes the hardest-fought battles reap the greatest reward. Through his struggles to make amends for his past wrongdoings, Amir not only finds redemption for his actions, but gains back a little piece of his innocent, immaculate childhood with Hassan in the form of his nephew, Sohrab.
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