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The novel Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini narrates a story of protagonist Amir who seeks recognition and approval from his father Baba. It is a betrayal and redemption story, prioritizing themes of love, guilt, violence, and absolution. The novel is fueled by Amir’s actions of anger and sadness which motivates him to redeem himself and reveal a different identity. This paper focuses on how the protagonist acquires different identities following his actions of betrayal and redemption.
Following Baba’s disappointment by shortcomings of his son, Amir dedicates himself fully to the Kite-Tournament to attain a different identity which pleases his father. His father believes that “a boy who doesn’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything” (Hosseini 31). Baba accredits Amir’s friend Hassan in the tournament, because “he knows where the kite will land without watching it”, and considers his son feeble and lacking firmness (Hosseini 42). This perception pushes Amir to put in more effort until the day he wins the prize and Hassan commends him for his victory.
Amir presents a different identity when he betrays Hassan in the alleyway. He witnesses Assef beating and raping Hassan but he fails to intervene, because he needs to bring the kite to his father. Amir regrets that decision, saying, “I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan, or I could run. In the end, I ran” (Hosseini 97). Being guilt-ridden by his own cowardice, Amir believes life would be better without Hassan around which pushes him to betray Hassan again as he says, “I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it. Then I told Baba what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies” (Hosseini 121). This act portrays Amir’s different identity, as a traitor this time.
After they leave Kabul for Pakistan and later California, Amir reveals a different identity. He joins San Jose State University, becomes a successful novelist and marries Soraya Tahiri. His father Baba dies of cancer after granting him his final favor of asking Soraya’s parents to let Amir wed their daughter and saying, “Amir is my only son and he has been a good son to me. I ask that you honor Amir and me and accept my son into your family" (Hosseini 145). Here Amir reveals a different identity, that of a husband and a novelist.
After fifteen years, Baba’s old friend Rahim Khan calls Amir for a rescue mission of Sohrab, Hassan’s son, after the latter dies in the hands of the Taliban’s. Amir learns Hassan was his half-brother, something his father never told him. This truth causes him much pain as he remembers how he mistreated Hassan when he was alive, like when he told him, “Eat dirt if I told you to” (Hosseini 317). Collaborating with Farid, he rescues Sohrab from the hands of old Assef after the huge battle challenge in Kabul’s asylum, and he adopts the boy in America. This rescue reveals his current identity of caring and redeemed person.
In conclusion, the novel narrates the story of how Amir’s actions gradually change him into a redeemed person. The guilt of betraying Hassan and mistreating him when he was alive changes him to a caring person. To return the favor to Hassan, he adopts his son and cares for him in America, considering they couldn’t bear a child with Soraya.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Bloomsbury, 2011.
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