A World of Guilt: Amirs Struggle to Become a Better Man
In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir struggles to become a man. His idealization of manhood is largely derived from the influence of his father his primary role model, Baba. Baba is a strong, assertive and confidant man in Amirs eyes and despite their differences, Amir strives to embody this type of masculinity. However, Amir only becomes a better man when he is broken down and beaten into a humble man. Amirs relationship to his mother, father and half brother, Hassan, are guilt ridden and strained. Finally, Amir addresses this guilt and proves his remorse through selfless acts. It is through selfless acts that his sins of the past are settled and he is able to become a man and form a complete sense of self.
Amirs sense of guilt stems from the very moment he was born. Amirs mother died in childbirth and at times, Amir feels like Baba resents him for taking the life of his beautiful wife. Throughout the novel, Amir continues to resent himself for not living up to his fathers reputation as a great man. Amir often backs down from confrontations, something Baba would never do. When Hassan is being raped for Amirs kite, Amir watches only for a moment before running away. Baba on the other hand, stands up for an anonymous woman who a soldier is threatening to rape. Amir reflects on that winter six years ago when Hassan was being raped and failed to act like a man; I too wondered if I was really Babas son (122, Hosseini). Amirs friendship with Hassan is fraught with the guilt of this incident. When Hassan and Ali give Amir a sentimental book he tosses it in the corner of his room, but his "eyes kept going back to it" (110, Hosseini). This show's that Amir cannot suppress the guilt over the betrayal he has committed. His guilt and pain is so profound that he avoids Hassan all together.
When Hassan and Ali leave Baba's house forever, Amir feels guilty, lonely and also avoids saying goodbye, not knowing that the next time he will see Hassan would be in a Polaroid photo, not even alive. The author show's Amir's remorse, and emphasises the feelings of betrayal by using language and expressing emotions to the reader's so that they can feel a bond. Amir even feels responsible for the Taliban murdering Hassan because he thinks he set in motion the events that led to Hassans death when he pushed Hassan and Ali out of Babas house. As he says on the books first page, the past can never be buried and that he has been peeking into that deserted alley [where he watched Hassan get raped] for the last twenty six years (1, Hosseini).
Amirs quest to redeem himself makes up the heart of the novel. Early on, Amir strives to redeem himself in Babas eyes, primarily because his mother died giving birth to him, and he feels responsible. To redeem himself to Baba, Amir thinks he must win the kite-tournament and bring Baba the losing kite, both of which are incidents that set the rest of the novel in motion. The more significant part of Amirs search for redemption, however, stems from his guilt regarding Hassan. That guilt drives Amirs climatic journey to Kabul to find Sohrab and finally confronts Assef. The moral standard Amir must meet to earn his redemption is set early in the book, when Baba says that a boy who doesnt stand up for himself becomes a man who cant stand up to anything. As a boy, Amir fails to stand up for himself. As an adult, he can finally redeems himself by proving he has the courage to stand up for what is right. He selflessly takes the beating from Assef to prove his dedication to the late Hassan and Sohrab. Regardless of Sohrabs initial hesitations about traveling back to America and complete silence, Amir never shows any signs of weakness in his dedication to his nephew. Amir becomes the kite runner and dedicates himself to the wellbeing of his nephew he finally becomes a true man.
Throughout Khaled Hosseinis The Kite Runner, Amir discovers what it truly takes to become a man through his guilt ridden trials and tribulations. At the beginning of the novel, Amir strives for redemption in Babas eyes and figures that by winning the kite-tournament he would be seen as a fellow man. However, Amir does not become a man when he brings back the kite for Baba because he sacrifices his loyal brother Hassan for the paper kite. Amir finally understands what it takes to become a better man in his moment of redemption when he instead, retrieves the kite for Sohrab. A symbolically selfless moment dedicated not only to Sohran but to his faithful brother Hassan; For you, a thousand times over (391, Hosseini).
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead, 2003.