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 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. Amir, like most humans makes regrettable life decisions. While mistakes are considered the ultimate character builder, Amir’s character argues that it is equally important to learn to forgive yourself and strive towards redemption instead of dwelling upon the guilt from their past decisions. Amir is a young and privileged boy who goes on a journey to earn restitution for the passiveness he showed towards his best friend Hassan. Khaled Hosseini, by freeing Amir from cliche hero standards allowed him to be a character with deeper meaning, drawing a parallel to the human condition. Khaled Hosseini, 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 induration of pain; with ultimate redemption being when guilt ultimately leads to good.
The feeling of helplessness and frustration in humans leads to anger and cruelty. 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.” Amir had lived his entire youth under the delusion that Baba had hated 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 Amirs desire to compensate for his shortcomings. However, Amir can’t change the way he naturally is, creating a feeling of frustration in Amir in not being able to redeem himself. The feeling of being hated by the person you love 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. Babas lack of affection towards Amir leads to him taking his frustration out on people around him who were loyal.
Decisions made in desperation lead to the worst mistakes. When Amir is finally given an opportunity for redemption in the Kite flying tournament, he desperately 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 was being raped. However Amir thinks that “Hassan was the price he had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.” 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 its 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. Amir commits the greatest betrayal of his life solely for the temporary love of Baba.
Amir’s journey is also representative of how one must endure physical or emotional pain to come to terms with their guilt. Amir felt “a pair of steel hands closed around his windpipe at the sound of Hassan’s name.” Guilt is an emotion that gets worse over time. Guilt of not standing up for Hassan begins to burden Amirs conscience. Amir goes through an internal conflict of wanting redemption and an overwhelming need to punish himself 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” 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 shows that his emotional pain begins 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. Amir had felt “at peace” 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 is finally redeemed when he erases the boundaries and limitations upon which society makes view other people. The beginning of Amirs redemption was when his guilt turned into a realization of his cowardice. Amir had been worrying risking his wealthy life in America but then realize that “his actions may have cost Hassan a chance at those very same things.” 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 populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines and worries. After this realization Amir “plants a fistful of crumpled money under a mattress” in Farid’s house. This is the exact same action he took to get Hassan kicked out of his house, however this time he was thinking about the benefits of other people, not just himself. This selflessness in Amir turns his cowardice as a child into a fuel for doing the right thing in the present. Amir comes to the realization that “there are many children in Afghanistan but not alot of childhood.”. This elucidates the impression that people in Afghanistan had become too self centered to realize the lives of all the kids around them. Amir begins to realize that all these deaths and casualties were not just statistics on news but a representation of entire lifestyles being destroyed. Amir states having”his own dreams for Sohrab.” Shocked by the atrocities in Afghanistan, Amir takes Sohrab to America so that he can give what he took away from Hassan, a chance at a higher standard of living, free from the condescending labels given to people in Afghanistan. Amirs ultimate redemption is realized when his guilt ultimately leads to good and a higher understanding of the people around him. Upon being inquired what people would think of Sohrab, a Hazara, living with him, Amir firmly asserts that fact that Sohrab shall not be referred to as a “Hazara boy.” Amir had broken the chains that bound people to stereotypes and classes. Amir views past these label that society puts on everyone and judges people by their actions, not labels.
Amir draws a parallel to the human condition that is only possible by Khaled Hosseini. Amir breaks the typical hero archetypes and thus makes me a more tangible and memorable hero. This gives the character meaning and gives the reader something to chew on after reading this amazing novel.