In Khaled Hosseinis The Kite Runner, the narrator and protagonist, Amir, is presented in stark contrast to his servant, Hassan. Amir is bookish, introverted and conceited; Hassan, Amirs servant, is loyal, kind and nave. Hassans naivete leads to him being exploited by his mater Amir, which causes Hassan much suffering. This exploitation at the hands of Amir throughout The Kite Runner shows that Amir is not worthy of his servants good faith.
Amirs lack of respect towards Hassan is clear from their childhood interactions. Despite being young, Amir cares little enough about Hassan to betray him in small ways. For example, Amir lets Hassan take fault and blames Hassan when they get caught shining mirrors into neighbours windows. Hassan stoically takes the responsibility, and Amir is only too happy to exploit Hassan and evade responsibility every time. As well, Amir mocks Hassans illiteracy again showing that, even as a child, Amir is not prepared to extend the respect or trust that Hassan gives to him.
These small episodes are reflective of more significant and sadder happenings, where Hassan again offers goodwill and loyalty to Amir and is in return exploited for his usefulness. As an eleven-year-old, Hassan puts his safety on the line for Amir in the kite race, standing up to the bullies while Amir happily flew the kite. Hassan knows he faces persecution and indeed rape, but acts as the sacrificial lamb to Amir. Amir takes this sacrifice and loyalty for granted, and does not think to repay Hassan because Hassan is his servant. Amirs greed for the key to Babas heart blinds him against a consideration of Hassans humanity. Even after the rape, Amir tells Hassans father that Hassan has stolen money, showing a lack of pity or remorse on Amirs part. He sees Hassan as a servant or a tool first, and as a fellow human second, and for this reason Amir is not worthy of Hassans loyalty.
This is not to say that Amir is evil or that he never struggles with his conscience. Amir, a natural introvert who dislikes fighting, is not naturally inclined to fight back. Some of this we can attribute to Amirs temperamentfor which we cannot blame him. Indeed, Amir is bullied by neighbourhood children and does not fight back. However, Amir gladly lets Hassan stand up and fight for him; having seen and appreciated Hassans fierce loyalty (and naivete), Amir lets this go on and willfully lets Hassan take whatever blame and punishment lies along the way. This neglect for Hassans humanity is not something that can be blamed on Amirs temperament. This is a defect of character. Hassan fundamentally sees Amir as not just his master but also as a true friend. Hassans fault is his naivete. Amirs fault is much greater: he is selfish and willing to exploit Hassan: He is not my friend, he is my servant. Amir is happy to use Hassans loyalty, but views Hassan as an ugly pet, a betrayal of the lowest kind.
As Amir matures, he has numerous chances to come clean and absolve Hassan of false accusations. Yet Amir does not. With Rahim Khan, and Sorayawhenever Amir gets the chancehe can only say that I almost did tell (the truth). Amir lacks the courage to dig up the past. His maturity leads him to feel some regret and shame, but not enough for him to take action; not enough for him to disturb his peaceful life, job and family in America. Whatever Amirs belated sense of responsibility, it is not enough to make him atone for the harm he caused Hassan. Indeed, Amir shifts the blame onto his father. Even when Rahim Khan tells Amir that Hassan and his wife died to protect his house and asks Amir to rescue Sohrab, Amir still avoids responsibility: Maybe Babas right (in saying that Amir will never become a man..Hassan was willing to let his actions speak for him. Amir can never bring himself to do the same, and this again shows a huge defect of character.
Amir gets some measure of redemption when he goes to Afghanistan to save Sohrab, Hassans son, who suffers abuse at the hands of those who raped Hassan. But even this is empty, for Amir only sets out to achieve this when he finds out that Hassan is his half-brother. Only when Amir realizes this personal connection does he suddenly care; previously, his guilt and his cowardice had been too much to bear, and Amir had wanted simply the good life under Babas shadow. Amir was happy to forget Hassanuntil struck with the knowledge of their relationship. For Hassan, this had not mattered: he was willing to treat Amir like a brother and a friend always. Hassan treated Amir as a brother without ever knowing that Amir truly was a brother, an irony that speaks deeply in Hassans favourand just as harshly against Amir, who saw Hassan only as a tool until he found out Hassans true identity.
Hassan died to protect a house that Amir would never come back and live in. He died without knowing who his true biological father was. Hassan dedicated his life to a friend who would never repay a cent of his debt until it was far too late. Hassan knew the meaning of brotherhood; Amir never did.
Amirs considerable guilt and his eventual rescuing of Sohrab show that he does have a conscience, and that he does care, at least to a minimal extent. But Amirs constant taking of Hassan for granted, and the fact that he never saw Hassan as a brother until he learned of Hassans blood relation, show that Amir did not have the character to truly atone. Even in the end, Amir saved Sohrab because of a blood connection, not because of true loyalty to Hassan. Hassan treated Amir well for no reason except loyalty. Amir felt bad about Hassan, but could only bring himself to act when he realized Hassans bloodit was not pity or gratefulness for Hassans character which compelled Amir. Thus, he did not learn his final lesson and friendship and loyalty, and Amir was not worthy of Hassans teaching.
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