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Atonement in The Kite Runner Essay


My Fathers Son

Throughout the novel The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini, Hosseini explores the issues of atonement. Baba a wealthy man and his son Amir lived in a beautiful home in Afghanistan while their servants Ali and Hassan lived in a mud hut. Amirs mother died giving birth to him and Hassans mother ran off with traveling singers and dancers. Baba and Ali had grown up together. Ali was like family although Ali was Babas servant. Amir and Hassan had fed from the same breast. Amir had nothing in common with his father Baba and he was always looking for his acceptance. In Afghanistan, it was a winter tradition to hold a kite-fighting tournament and Amir being twelve years old found this as his opportunity to gain his fathers acceptance by winning the tournament. Amir and Hassan prepare for the tournament, not knowing this day will haunt him for the rest of his life. There are two scenes which clearly show the theme of sin and atonement. In the first scene Amir runs away and leaves Hassan alone to sacrifice himself for a kite. The second scene is when Amir finally feels free from his childhood guilt for betraying Hassan, by making things right with Sohrab, Hassans son. We can clearly see in these two scenes, a person can learn from their past mistakes to make the future better for themselves as well as others.

In chapter 7 after winning the kite tournament, Hassan and Amir embrace. Knowing that they need the blue kite as a trophy Hassan runs off to bring it back to Amir. Amir goes looking for Hassan and finds him in the alley guarding the kite from three boys, Wali, Kamal, and Assef. Assef had told Hassan to give up the kite and he would let him go. Knowing how much the kite meant to Amir, Hassan sacrificed himself and was raped by Assef as the other boys held him down. Amir having the opportunity to stand up for Hassan, just ran the other way. Amir confesses to himself:

I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price? The answer floated to my conscious mind before I could thwart it: He was just a Hazara, wasnt he?(77)

Does everything come with a price? Friendship and love should be free. The love between a father and son should be unconditional and without the feeling of trying to prove oneself. Amir should not believe the words of Assef when he says Nothing in this world is free. To Assef maybe that was true. Amir reflecting on his life with Baba, trying to win his love and attention saw this as maybe being true. In Afghanistan, Hazaras are a lower class of people. There was a lot of prejudice against the Hazara community. Amir was jealous of Hassan because he felt Baba gave more attention to him. When Amir first found Hassan in the alley all he pictured was the kite. Amir would do anything to gain the acceptance of his Baba. At first Amir didnt care what happened to Hassan as long as he brought back the kite. Amir begins to doubt himself asking, Hassan was just a Hazara wasnt he? In the back of his mind he knew it was wrong to just stand there and watch Hassan sacrifice himself for the kite. As Amir watched the situation worsen for Hassan he became emotional; he started biting on his fists and weeping. Amir and Hassan grew up together; fed from the same breast. Is this how you treat someone that you have known all your life and looks up to you? What are the alternatives? Was Amir scared? He was only twelve years old. A child should not be put in a place where they should have to prove themselves for the love and attention of their parent/parents. For Amir it was easier to deny what was happening rather than admitting cowardice. This is the sin Amir would atone for later in life.

Life changed dramatically after the rape. Amir could not live with the guilt of betraying Hassan, so he framed Hassan for the theft of his birthday money. Hassan once again being loyal confesses to the theft. Ali and Hassan move away. Amir never saw Hassan again, but is constantly haunted by how he betrayed the person whos first word was his name. To escape the Soviet regime, Baba and Amir left Afghanistan to Pakistan before moving to the United States. They resided in an apartment in Fremont California.

Amir gets married and Baba dies of lung cancer. Amir receives a phone call and travels back to Afganistan.

When Amir arrives in Afghanistan he is told a family secretHassan is his fathers child. Amir also finds out that Hassan has died and left behind a son, Sohrab, who is held by the Taliban. The Taliban official that is holding Sohrab as a sex slave is no other than the man who raped and killed his father Hassan. Amir finds Sohrab and confronts Assef. Almost losing his life, Amir rescues Sohrab and takes him out of Afghanistan. Amir brings Sohrab to the United States to live with him and his wife.

Back at home sitting in the living room Amir and Sorayas father general Sahib, talk about his journey back to Afghanistan. The generals eyes kept drifting to Sohrab who was asleep on the couch, wanting to know why Amir has brought him back with him. Sahib is worried about his reputation and asks, What do I tell people if they ask why there is a Hazara boy living with my daughter? Amir replies:

You see, General Sahib, my father slept with his servants wife. She bore him a son named Hassan. Hassan is dead now. That boy sleeping on the couch is Hassans son. Hes my nephew. Thats what you will tell people when they ask. And one more thing, General Sahib, I said. You will never again refer to him as Hazara boy in my presence. He has a name and its Sohrab.(361)

Amir revels the lie and confesses his fathers sin. Baba had been a thief, he not only stole from Amir, he stole from Ali and Hassan. Hassan was Babas true son, underprivileged, uninitiated, and sacred. Amir is tired of all the lies; he has carried around the guilt from the sins he committed as a child. Finding out that Hassan was his half brother, was hard for him knowing what all he had done. Even though Sohrab is a Hazara decent, he is Amirs nephew and he will be treated as family. Amir has embraced the truth and can move forward feeling free of his guilt. He does not want Sohrab to grow up like he had done in some ways, trying to gain acceptance from the people closest to him. Amir gives Sohrab an identity so people dont look at him as if he were an object. The name Sohrab comes from a Persian hero who was mortally wounded by a great warrior Rostam, before finding out that he was his long lost son. Hassan would cry every time Amir would read him the book and wonder, why? Maybe Amir finally realizes that the character Sohrab reminded Hassan of Amir who longed for Babas love. In a way Hassan named his son after Amir. Amir knows he missed the chance to make things right with Hassan, but its not to late with his son Sohrab. By confessing Babas sin and giving Sohrab an identity, Amir had begun to atone for his childhood sins.

Growing up in a certain environment can led a person on the wrong path. A child is taught how to do things by their parents, and the people they look up to. They are taught how to speak, think, and act. On page 226 Amir had said, like father, like son.Baba and I were more alike than Id ever known. He learned his ways from his Baba, without even knowing Babas sin. I believe that the cultural environment that Amir was brought up in played a major part in his actions against Hassan. Amir had treated Hassan as lower class because it was acceptable in Afghanistan culture to treat a Hazzara like dirt. After living in the United States and returning to Afghanistan, Amir saw things differently. Seeing the young children dirty and hungry in Afghanistan, he relized he grew up spoiled. Amir felt remorseful and recalled the time he had framed Hassan for stealing. Seeing the children with hardly anything, Amir put money under their mattress. He had grown up not just physically, but mentally as well. He became a changed man, and had accepted all his wrong doings. He even began to kneel and pray, and believe in a God.

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