Trauma And Tragedy In The Kite Runner
Traumatic events and tragedies can heavily affect people and change the course of their lives. These traumatic events can be a result of a person’s fate or their lack of action taken to make it avoidable. Trauma can be experienced at any age, from childhood to adulthood. Some people handle trauma very well and come to terms with what happened, which helps them redeem themselves, resist failure, and keep themselves motivated to move on with their lives. On the other hand, some people don’t have the courage to speak up about and face the trauma that they experienced, which ends up following them for the rest of their lives and causing them to lose their happiness. In the novel The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini, Amir and Hassan experience traumatic events that negatively affect their lives. Hassan gets raped and he pretends like nothing happened. Amir witnesses Hassan getting raped and he decides not to do anything about it. In Amir’s future, Hassan and Baba, two people who are very important to him, unfortunately pass away.
In The Kite Runner, Amir experiences many traumatic events in his childhood that follow him into adulthood. These traumatic events are not a result of Amir’s fate, but they are a result of his lack of action taken, courage, and his hesitance in making decisions. One event that Amir experiences is when he watches his best friend, Hassan, getting raped. Although Amir wants to help Hassan and stop what is happening, he decides to be selfish and run away:
I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. 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. I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. (Hosseini 77)
In this situation, Amir is scared to act because he is afraid of Assef and is worried that if he intervenes or tries to stop Assef from hurting Hassan, then it would result in him getting bullied and hurt. This results in making Amir an insomniac. He wouldn’t sleep and he couldn’t look at Hassan in the eye anymore. All he would think about at night is what happened and all he saw was Hassan’s face while it was happening. This is represented when Amir says “He moved his head slightly and I caught a glimpse of his face. Saw the resignation in it. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb”(76). Contrary to Amir’s thoughts that Hassan would stop being loyal to him, he stayed loyal to Amir, making him food, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, etc. the one thing that stopped was their communication. Before Hassan’s incident, him and Amir would go out to the pomegranate tree outside of Amir’s house and he would read stories to Hassan. They would talk and go on adventures and enjoy each others company. But after Hassan gets raped, the communication comes to an abrupt end. From that point forward, Amir was driven by his guilt for choosing not to help Hassan while he is getting bullied by Assef. He wants Hassan to disappear from his life so that he would no longer suffer from his feelings of guilt. “I went downstairs, crossed the yard, and entered Ali and Hassan’s living quarters by the loquat tree. I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it”(104). He accused Hassan of stealing his birthday present, a watch and money, by putting it under his mattress. To sum up, Amir’s tragedy in this situation is a result of his own decisions and not of destiny. His selfishness and lack of courage drive him to decide to only watch Hassan getting raped and run away from the scene, rather than facing it and standing up for Hassan. As a result, he is not any happier and afterwards he driven by his guilt as he searches for a way to redeem himself.
Hassan is Amir’s best friend and half brother, and also a servant of Baba’s. The tragedy in his life is caused by different factors. First, he is a Hazara, along with his dad, so they are taken as lower class. They are servants to Amir and his dad at their house in Afghanistan. As Hazara’s, anyone can take advantage over them and no one cares enough to do anything about it. People who are higher class constantly belittle and humiliate the lower class people. For example, Amir explains that when he would walk with Ali, Hassan’s dad, he would see neighbours calling him names. “Hey Babalu, who did you eat today? Huh? Come on Babau, give us a smile!”(38) Another factor that contributes to Hassan’s miserable life is that he is always submissive and loyal to Amir. He is always to determined to help him out. Hassan always covers for Amir when they get in trouble and bravely defends him when they are confronted by the neighborhood bullies. After Amir wins the kite running tournament, Hassan goes to chase the blue kite. While he is helping Amir win the tournament, he runs into an alley and is caught by Assef and his friends, Kamal and Wali. Assef is demanding that he take the blue kite from Hassan, but he refuses because he wants to get the kite back to Amir. This results in Assef’s decision to rape Hassan as revenge. On the other hand, Amir is selfish and decides to refuse to intervene while Hassan is being raped by Assef. In this situation, Amir is driven by his feelings of jealousy towards Hassan, his lack of courage, and his fear of Assef and decides to run away. Afterwards, Hassan and Amir avoid speaking about the incident. This results in Amir and Hassan distancing themselves from each other. They stop playing games and going outside together, which results in the abrupt end of their communication. In addition, Hassan’s mental and physical well-being begins to deteriorate. His father, Ali, notices that Hassan is getting more tired everyday and that he is sleeping a lot more than usual.
“Lately, it seems all he wants to do is sleep. He does his chores-I see that-but then he just wants to crawl under his blanket. Can I ask you something?”
“If you have to. ”
After that kite tournament, he came home a little bloodied and his shirt was torn. I asked him what had happened and he said it was nothing, that he’d gotten into a little scuffle with some kids over the kite. ”
I didn’t say anything. Just kept pushing the egg around on my plate.
“Did something happen to him, Amir agha? Something he’s not telling me?”
I shrugged. “How should I know?” (81)
In spite of Amir’s betrayal to Hassan, he continued his act of loyalty towards Amir. He will always feel a connection to Amir and never wants to betray him. This follows Hassan into his adulthood when the Taliban came into the house, telling Hassan to leave. Hassan refuses to leave because he wants to stay loyal to Amir:
“A pair of Talib officials came to investigate and interrogated Hassan. They accused him of lying when Hassan told them he was living with me even though he had many neighbors, including the one who called me, supported Hassan’s story. The Talibs said he was a liar and a thief like all Hazara’s and ordered him to get his family out of the house by sundown. Hassan protested. ” (218)
In the end, Hassan’s refusal to betray Amir costs him his life as the soldiers shoot him down when he refused to let the Taliban confiscate Baba and Amir’s house in Kabul:
“They told Hassan they would be moving in to supposedly keep it safe until I return. Hassan protested again. So they took him to the street-”
“No,” I breathed.
“-and order him to kneel-”
“No. God, no. ”
“-and shot him in the back of the head. ”
“-Farzana came screaming and attacked them-”
“-shot her too. Self-defense, the claimed later-” (219)
To conclude, the tragedy in Hassan’s life is not only caused by social and religious discrimination, but it also relates to Amir’s discourage and feeling of jealousy towards him, as well as Hassan’s continuous loyalty to Amir.
The tragedy of Baba’s cancer and death have a huge impact on all the characters throughout the rest of the novel. It causes Amir to finally be courageous and take action. It also forces Hassan to make a decision that will cost him his life and changes his son’s life forever. Baba’s diagnosis with cancer is a major turning point in the novel that greatly influences Amir’s personality. At this point, Amir is forced to no longer live under his father’s umbrella, depending on Baba to protect him and help him make decisions. He is forced to become a real adult. Now, Amir is obligated, for the first time, to protect and help Baba instead. This also forces him to propose to Soraya as if Baba hadn’t gotten cancer, Amir may have continued to postpone his marriage proposal to Soraya. “I sat beside him. ‘Then I wonder if you’ll do something for me. If you’re not too exhausted. ’ ‘What?’ ‘i want you to go khastegari. I want you to ask General Taheri for his daughter’s hand’”(161). Also, Baba’s cancer and death affect Hassan’s life. When asked by Rahim Khan to help him take care of Baba and Amir’s house in Afghanistan, Hassan refuses the offer. But after Rahim Khan informs Hassan of Baba’s death, he makes the decision to move back to Baba’s house in Kabul.
Unfortunately, this decision ends Hassan and his wife’s life. After a while of living in the house, the Taliban shows up and kills Hassan and his wife because they refuse to give up Baba’s house, which drastically affects the life of their son, Sohrab. Sohrab was later taken to an orphanage because he has no family to live with. The news of Hassan’s death is devastating and has a significant emotional affect on Amir. His feeling of guilt towards Hassan drives the event of Amir’s life, including his journey back to Kabul to look for Hassan’s son, Sohrab, and his confrontation with Assef. “His name rose from the deep and I didn’t want to say it, as if uttering uttering it might conjure him. But he was already there, sitting less than ten feet from me, after all these years. His name escaped my lips: ‘Assef’”(281). In this situation, Amir is forced again to take action. At first, his act of selfishness drives him to refuse going back to Afghanistan. “‘I have a wife in America, a home, a career, and a family. Kabul is a dangerous place, you know that, and you’d have me risk everything for…’ I stopped”(221). After he realizes that this would be his last chance to redeem himself and get rid of his lingering guilt towards Hassan, Amir makes the decision to go save Sohrab. Therefore, Baba’s cancer and death leads to dramatic changes in not only Amir’s life, but it also significantly impacts Hassan and his family’s lives.
The Kite Runner, a novel written by Khaled Hosseini is a great book full of tragedy that heavily affects the events of the lives of its characters, including Amir, Hassan, and his family. Throughout the novel, the tragedy isn’t destiny or fate, but it is caused by the lack of action, social and religious racism, feelings of jealousy, and the ultimate loyalty and submission towards others. Hassan is a victim of Amir’s discourage and cowardice and his complete loyalty to Amir. Also, Amir is a victim of his feelings of jealousy towards Hassan, his complex relationship with Baba, as well as his desire to get his love back. Finally, the characters in The Kite Runner suffer tragedy as a result of the world that they create for themselves. The characters don’t take any action until they are forced to. Moreover, the conflict between father and son, causes Amir and Hassan to suffer. Amir betrays his best friend and half-brother, while Hassan stays loyal to Amir, and they both end up in tragedy. Despite the suffering throughout the book, the characters finally find their way towards redemption.
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