Aarav DubeyMrs. Bernier
Honors English 1/ Period 4
20 April 2018
Kite runner; Road to Redemption not easy
Too often, heroes are constrained by the fact that they need to be a surrogate for the audience or live up to a false ideal of a morally just person. This makes for the character that is quite bland and predictable. However, in the Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini presents a character free from these cliche chains. This character is Amir. He, like most humans, makes regrettable life decisions. While mistakes are considered the ultimate character builder. Amir is a young and privileged boy who goes on a journey to earn forgiveness for the passiveness he showed towards his best friend Hassan. Khaled Hosseini, by freeing Amir from cliche hero standards allows him to be a character with deeper meaning, drawing a parallel to the human condition. He, through Amir, presents a parallel to the human condition of how guilt builds up from personal frustrations and desperate action and can be compensated for through the endurance of pain; with ultimate redemption being when guilt ultimately leads to good.
Amir relates to the human condition of helplessness leading to frustration concluding in a cycle of anger and betrayals. Amir grew up with the misconception that “Baba hated him a little” since “he had killed Baba’s beloved wife;” this feeling is amplified by the Amirs inability to have “the decency to have turned out a little more like Baba.”(pg19) Amir lives his entire youth under the delusion that Baba hates him. However, Amir had no control over mother’s death while giving birth to him, making his situation helpless. The inadequacy of not being more like Baba fuels Amir’s desire to compensate for his shortcomings. However, Amir can’t change the way he is naturally, creating a feeling of frustration in him in not being able to redeem himself. The feeling of being hated by the person loved most creates a cruel mentality in Amir’s young mind. Amir takes out the frustration on his loyal friend Hassan because Baba liked him. Amir would constantly tease Hassan and play cruel jokes on him by taking advantage of Hassan’s loyalty and illiteracy. Amir described taunting Hassan as “fascinating … kind of like … playing insect torture … except Hassan was the ant and Amir was holding the magnifying glass” (54) This draws a very cruel metaphor between Amir and Hassan. Saying that Amir is a little boy with a magnifying glass conveys the joy Amir feels in belittling and dehumanizing his loyal friend. Baba’s lack of affection towards Amir leads to him taking his frustration out on people around him who were loyal. When Amir is finally given an opportunity for redemption in the Kite flying tournament, he hastily clings to this thread of hope. However, this desperation leads to him making the most regrettable decision of his life, leaving Hassan behind in the alley while he is being raped. However, Amir thinks that “Hassan was the price he had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.”(pg 77) Amir’s desperation for redemption leads to him committing a greater sin which he did have control over. Comparing Hassan to a sheep makes him feel passive and helpless. Amir realizes the sin he had committed by sacrificing other people, but thinks it’s worth it to “win Baba.” However, Amir doesn’t realize that Baba is not something he can “win” and that love comes from genuine feelings, not from materialistic ideas. The desperation for Babas temporary love causes Amir to take of his frustration on Hassan and committing the greatest betrayal of his life.
Amir’s journey is also representative of how one must endure physical or emotional pain to come to terms with one’s own guilt. Amir feels”a pair of steel hands closing around his windpipe at the sound of Hassan’s name.” (pg 134)Guilt is an emotion that gets worse over time. The guilt of not standing up for Hassan begins to burden Amir’s conscience. Amir goes through an internal conflict of wanting redemption and an overwhelming need to punish himself. This is due to his moral understanding that he cannot ever truly undo what he had done. As a kid, Amir tries to provoke Hassan to hit him back so that he could endure physical pain for his wrongdoing. To do this Amir pelts Hassan with pomegranates. However, he “falls to his knees, tired, spent, frustrated”(pg 134) when Hassan just crushes a pomegranate on his own forehead. This incident explains just how defeated Amir feels when the opportunity of a punishment is quickly turned into an exponentially worse feeling of helplessness. The word “spent” explains the emotional exhaustion is Amir’s mind. The action of falling to his knees is a testament to the emotional pain beginning to drain Amir of physical strength. That guilt drives the climactic events of the story when Amir goes back to Kabul from America and fights him for redemption. He feels “at peace”(pg 289) when Assef brutally cracks down on Amir. Amir reflects on his childhood memories of Hassan; the physical pain he is feeling mirrors the mental pain Hassan has gone through since the rape. This physical punishment makes Amir feel clear of this emotional debt he had, due to Hassan’s rape. Amir’s journey demonstrates how guilt can physically and psychologically push a person to search for a way to redeem them self.
In the end, Amir finally changes for the better and attones for his sins when he erases the boundaries and limitations upon which society labels individuals. The beginning of Amir’s redemption is when his guilt turns into a realization of his cowardice. Amir, worrying that he is risking his wealthy life in America but then realizes that “his actions may have cost Hassan a chance at those very same things.”(pg 226) This leads to Amir becoming “sonder” which is a state of realization of the endless complexities in the life of everyone. Amir begins to see not only Hassan, but everyone around him as individuals possessing their own ambitions, routines, and worries. After this realization Amir “plants a fistful of crumpled money under a mattress” (pg 242) in Farid’s house. This is the exact same action he took to get Hassan kicked out of his house; the last time was with malicious intent, and this time he is thinking about the benefits of other people, not just himself. Wahid is impressed and praises, “you Amir are an honorable man, a true Afghan.”(pg 238)Amir has developed and changed as a man, through persisting on his Endeavour of his lifelong aspiration. This selflessness in Amir turns his cowardice as a child into a fuel for doing the right thing in the present. Amir is finally able to make a good decision; a decision that would change his character and his life. He states having “his own dreams for Sohrab.”(pg 362) Shocked by the atrocities and violence in Afghanistan, He takes Sohrab to America so that he can give him what he took away from Hassan, a chance at a higher standard of living, free from the condescending labels given to people in Afghanistan. Amir’s ultimate redemption is realized when his guilt ultimately leads to righteous acts and standing up for truth. Upon being inquired by his father in law what people would think of Sohrab, a Hazara, living with him, Amir firmly asserts the fact that Sohrab was the son of his illegitimate half-brother and shall not be referred to as a “Hazara boy” in front of him (pg 361). Amir had broken the chains that bound people to stereotypes and classes. He sees beyond these labels that society puts on everyone, and judges people by their actions
Amir breaks the typical hero archetypes and thus makes him a more tangible and memorable hero. This allows Amir to embolize the patterns of life in the human condition which almost everyone endures. Amir’s character is argumentative of the idea that it is important to not dwell on guilt but to strive towards redemption. Guilt, therefore, can lead to greatness.Amir also provides an example of change is possible within any human and what this change looks like.