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The personal history of the main characters in The Kite Runner is one of the most important driving forces in the book. Without reference to Amir’s betrayal of Hassan in his own past, the plot would be unable to move forward as Amir would not feel compelled to leave home and sacrifice his connection to his father and his homeland. The jealousy and betrayal that haunts his past defines how he comes to see himself in the contemporary times described in the novel and pushes him to take the actions that drive the plot forward.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
Amir’s betrayal of Hassan is a large part of what drives him to leave his father and his home and relocate to the United States. His relocation to California is portrayed as an attempt to outrun his past, and it is only once he has left that Amir is able to begin to grow as a person and attempt to move forward, although everything he accomplishes in the ‘States does not effectively negate his past cowardice and shame.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
When his wife is unable to become pregnant, Amir views his less than illustrious past as the reason for his inability to start a family. His attempts at establishing a family and a life on his own go unfulfilled and are unable to assuage his guilt. It is thus appropriate that Hassan’s son ends up being Amir’s means of overcoming his feelings of inadequacy over his betrayal of Hassan.
The way he had acted as a child instills in Amir a sense of general unworthiness despite his accomplishments overseas. He is successful as a student and a writer, but takes little pride in his accomplishments due to what he perceives as basic character faults that caused him to betray his friend. This sense of unworthiness and mistrust of his own character is the driving force behind his move to California, encourages him to perceive himself as being inferior to his father even after much time has passed, and confronts him when he returns to Afghanistan in the form of his driver Farid’s disrespect. It is only when he discovers the truth about Hassan’s parentage and takes active steps toward returning home to rescue his son that Amir’s past betrayal is overcome.
Hassan’s Loyalty and Courage Highlight Amir’s Cowardice and Selfishness
Much of the plot of The Kite Runner revolves around the betrayal by the main character, Amir, of his childhood friend Hassan in their distant past. Over the course of the novel Hassan acts as a foil for Amir’s character, bringing attention to Amir’s cowardice through his own courageousness and honesty.
The contrast between Amir and Hassan is evident from the very beginning of the novel. Amir lives a sheltered and spoiled life as a child due to his higher social status, whereas Hassan has to deal with much more hardship and trouble. These differences in their upbringing help to determine the people they grow up into. Amir is ambitious but disloyal and his intentions are selfish due to his upbringing as a member of the upper class and the behaviors that encourages. Hassan, in contrast, is both humble and loyal to a fault.
Hassan’s loyalty to his friend provides a stark contrast to Amir’s selfishness and jealousy. The apparent favor that Amir’s father bestows on Hassan influences Amir to become jealous of him, which in turn influences his betrayal of his supposed friend. Without Hassan’s acts of selflessness, it would be easier for the reader to relate to Amir’s cowardice and self serving behaviors, but with Hassan to compare him to Amir’s true character emerges.
The guilt that Amir experiences over his betrayal of Hassan is part of what drives him to overcome his own negative personality traits and take action courageously in the end to save Hassan’s son. After all of the action leading up to this behavior, it can be seen as more in keeping with Hassan’s character than Amir’s. This makes the inherent differences between the two friends even more clear.
The Kite as a Symbol of Amir’s Conflicting Happiness and Guilt
One of the clearest uses of symbol in The Kite Runner is the kite referenced in the book’s title. It represents different things over the course of the novel, drawing attention to the complicated nature of Amir and Hassan’s relationship as it is directly involved in both their friendship and Amir’s betrayal of it.
In the beginning of the novel the kite represents happiness and kinship between the two boys. They share the activity of kite running, which helps them form a bond between each other and hearkens back to Amir’s father’s champion kite fighting days.
The meaning of the symbol changes when it is redefined from a representation of childish happiness to betrayal. Amir decides to priorities bringing his kite back to his father instead of standing up for his friend, and Hassan is forcibly raped as a result. After this event the story takes a completely different turn and the kite comes to symbolize Amir’s guilt over what he has allowed to happen to Hassan.
By the end of the novel the kite has become a symbol for Amir’s guilt-free childhood. It is how he connects with Sohrab’s son, with whom he flies his first kite since his betrayal of Hassan. By saving Sohrab where he had failed his father, Amir manages to crawl out from underneath his guilt over past events and regain some of the happiness of his childhood as can be seen in the scene where he is flying kites with Sohrab in the end of the book.
Cruelty in The Kite Runner
Cruelty on behalf of many different characters is one of the themes in The Kite Runnerthat drives the plot. Assef’s cruelty is portrayed as an inherent character trait and remains undisputed throughout the novel both when he is a child and when he is an adult. It is primarily directed toward Hassan and his offspring. A more nuanced expression of cruelty as a driving plot force can be seen in Baba and consequently his son Amir.
Baba’s cruelty toward Amir in his childhood and his obvious preference for his supposed servant Hassan is at the root of Amir’s insecurities and helps determine how he treats Hassan. It shows how perceived acts of cruelty perpetrated against a child can go on to strongly influence how they behave both in childhood and as adults.
Amir responds to Baba’s cruelty by exhibiting this same negative character trait toward Hassan. He perceives Hassan to be the source of the rift between himself and his father, and as a result does not treat him with the same loyalty and respect that Hassan himself shows.
It is, however, Amir who eventually breaks this cycle by returning to Afghanistan to save Hassan’s son. This act of selflessness and courage shows that he has changed as an adult and has overcome his upbringing.
Baba’s Deception as a Driving Force
Much of the pain and suffering inflicted on both Hassan and Amir has as its root the dishonesty of Amir’s father regarding Hassan’s parentage. Without Baba’s lying to his son about being Hassan’s father as well as his own, the plot of the novel would not have developed as it did and all of the characters would likely have avoided a large amount of suffering.
The likelihood is high that Baba’s deception stemmed not from a desire to inflict pain upon his two sons, but instead from a misguided desire to help them. That so much suffering could result from what he probably intended as a white lie serves to illustrate the unpleasant nature of intentional deception as a tool for manipulating others. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
Amir’s actions in betraying his friend are influenced by Baba’s favoritism toward Hassan and his own desire to gain his father’s good graces. Were the actual family dynamics at play not intentionally obfuscated, events likely would have unfolded differently.
It is not until the end of the novel that Baba’s deception is revealed for what it was. When Amir discovers that Hassan’s son Sohrab is in fact his nephew, as Hassan had been his brother in life, it retrospectively explains Baba’s favoritism toward Hassan and serves as an interesting contrast to Amir’s childlessness.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner (2003). New York: Riverhead Books.