In Khaled Hosseinis book The Kite Runner, Hosseini describes the relationship between Amir, a young, upper class Pashtun boy from a wealthy family, and Hassan, a young Hazara boy who lives in his home as Amirs servant. The two boys are close friends and, later, turn out to be brothers.
The author has written about the close friendship that the two boys had and highlighted many of the social and historical issues that the boys had confronted, such as the discrimination and persecution of Hazara people by the Pashtun majority, the overthrow of the Afghan monarchy, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the rise of the Taliban regime. Even though the author highlights these aspects of Afghanistan, he still focuses on the friendship between the two boys with these issues remaining in the background of the story. He uses these issues as a basis for his story, not to be the center of it. Hosseini focuses more on issues of strained friendships and relationships, redemption, and the resilience of the human spirit.
This book leaves one to determine whether or not the two boys were true friends. Even though Amir did terrible things to Hassan and Hassan seemed to be a better friend to Amir than Amir was to Hassan, the two boys were friends for several reasons. First, they play together, despite the distinction of class, religion, and ethnicity. Amir is from the Pashtun majority, a Sunni Muslim, and wealthy. Hassan, on the other hand, is poor, a Shia Muslim, and from the minority Hazara tribe. Amir reflects upon these differences and how these differences did not change their relationship:
In the end, I was a Pashtun and he was a Hazara. I was Sunni and he was Shia, and nothing was ever going to change that. Nothing. But we were kids, who had learned to crawl together. And no history, ethnicity, society, or religion was going to change that either (citation needed)
Furthermore, Amir reflects upon his relationship with Hassan due to the fact that both of them never knew their mothers and that they both fed from the same woman:
There was brotherhood between people who had fed from the same breast, a kinship that even time could not break (11).
Second, Amir felt guilt and shame about Hassan being raped for his whole life. He felt guilty about not being able to stand up for him due to his own cowardice and his envy of Hassan. Amir felt so horrible about not intervening on Hassans behalf that he took drastic measures to try and alleviate his guilt. He threw pomegranates at Hassan hoping Hassan would beat him. Instead, Hassan simply grabbed a pomegranate and smashed it onto his forehead and asked Amir if he felt better (88-90).
Also, Amir framed Hassan for stealing his watch with the hopes of driving Hassan away so he would not have to experience his guilt as well as having Baba all to himself. In Chapter one, the narrator explains how witnessing Hassans rape made him who he was today:
I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but its wrong what they say about the past, Ive learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years (1).
If Amir did not view Hassan as a friend, he would not have felt as bad as he did about Hassans rape and would not have lived with what he witnessed in that alley well into his adult life.
Third, Amir wanted to redeem himself for his betrayal of Hassan when he traveled to Pakistan to meet Rahim Khan. He went to Pakistan without knowing that Hassan was actually his brother. Once he learned of this, Amir became more determined of his mission to rescue Hassans son Sohrab from an Afghan orphanage. As an adult, Amir was ready to face his past and redeem himself for what he did.
Finally, Amir went through a horrific ordeal in order to rescue Hassans son. Amir endured a horrible beating from Assef, which Amir regarded as a liberating experience. Amir describes the beating in the following quote:
I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that, in some hidden nook in a corner of my mind, Id even been looking forward to this. I remembered the day on the hill I had pelted Hassan with Pomegranates and tried to provoke him. . . . I felt healed. Healed at last (289).
There are not many people who would go through this kind of ordeal in order to redeem themselves of a sin committed against a person who someone would not consider a friend. Amir could have simply stayed in America, where he had a successful life as a happily married writer with a home of his own. However, he chose to face the sins he had committed in the past and decided he was going to make things right. In the process, he made peace with himself and had finally understood why his father did not show him the love and the approval that he was so desperately seeking.
After reading Rahim Khans letter, Amir realized that his father was a man that was torn between two sons, one that he could give everything to and one that he could not love openly (301-302). Also, Amir realized that his relationship with Hassan was very much like the relationship between Ali and Baba. Baba hated himself for his betrayal of Ali by sleeping with Alis wife. Rahim Khan describes Babas torment in his letter when he states, When he saw you, he saw himself. And his guilt. Your father, like you, was a tortured soul, Amir jan (300). The author says so himself when he describes Baba and Amirs idea of America:
"For me America was a place to bury memories. For Baba, a place to mourn his (129).
The Kite Runner shows us how complicated a friendship can truly be. There is no perfect friendship like the movies portray. People in loving friendships hurt each other all the time. For example, a married couple is the closest and most intimate friendship that two people can have. If one spouse is unfaithful to the other, then he or she has committed the worst kind of betrayal of a friendship. Even though the cheating spouse can love the other one and care for the other spouse deeply, the cheating spouse betrayed the other in the worst kind of way.
Acts of betrayal occur in every friendship throughout our lives. Some of these acts are very minor; however, some of these can be the worst acts committed upon another person. As children, our friends betray us when they no longer want to play with us, but with other children. As adolescents, our friends betray us when they socialize with other cliques of people. As adults, our friends betray us in many ways ranging from sleeping with our significant others to coworkers betraying a friend for a promotion or a raise in salary. All of us betray our friends and loved ones in some way. Many times we learn from our betrayals, like Amir did, and become closer and better friends because of our transgressions. Other times, we do not learn from our mistakes at all, which can drive a friendship apart.
However, The Kite Runner shows us how a bond can develop between two friends, despite the act of betrayal. Baba was close with Ali for his whole life, despite Alis lower status in Afghan society and Babas betrayal of Ali. Amir was close with Hassan, despite wanting to drive Hassan away. Amir felt a lot of guilt for not helping Hassan in the alley that day and wanted him to go away even if he had to go to extreme measures to do so. If Amir did not love Hassan, he would not have felt guilty about Assefs sexual assault of Hassan, therefore, not needing to drive Hassan away. Baba loved Ali very much and shows how much he cared for him by allowing him to live in his home. If Baba did not care for Ali, then he probably would not have felt guilty about sleeping with his wife; therefore, Baba would not feel the need to redeem himself for his betrayal of Ali.
In conclusion, Amir and Hassan were great friends. Even though Hassan was a better friend to Amir than Amir was to Hassan as a child, Amir proved himself to be a good friend in his adult life. There is no person, friend or foe, that would feel as much guilt as Amir did for an act of betrayal that he committed at age twelve. Also, no better friend would travel across a vast ocean into a war-torn country and risk his life to rescue a friends child. At the time Amir left for Pakistan, Amir did not know that Hassan was his brother, so he was still under the impression that they were just childhood friends. In the end, Amir learned the value of a close friendship. Amir simply learned the value of a friendship through an act of betrayal.