The Kite Runner Literary Analysis
The expression “riddled with guilt” is a good way to describe the main character’s life, Amir, in the book The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner is a story about an Afghan boy, Amir, who has many hardships throughout his life as he grows from a boy living in war-torn Afghanistan, to a successful writer living in America. Amir experiences many events that caused him to carry a great amount of guilt throughout his life. So much guilt that it even turned him into an insomniac.
He needed to find a way to make amends which would allow him to forgive himself and hopefully, one day, be able to sleep soundly again. Guilt was a main theme that occurred over and over again throughout the story. Amir can trace his feelings of guilt back to the moment he was born since his mother died during childbirth and Amir thinks his father blamed him.
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Amir often felt he let his father down. He said, “I will never forget Baba’s valiant efforts to conceal the disgusted look on his face. ” (pg. 21) That was his father’s reaction to his crying after seeing a horseback rider trampled to death.
Also when Amir overheard his father say, “There is something missing in that boy” (pg. 22) and “If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he’s my son. ” (pg. 23) he knew that he did not meet his father’s expectations. Amir clearly felt that he was not measuring up to his father’s standards of what boy (or man) should be like. But Amir really wanted his father’s approval. Not only did Amir feel guilt from not meeting his father’s expectations, he felt tremendous guilt when he didn’t tell anyone and didn’t do anything to help his friend Hassan when he witnessed Hassan being raped.
Especially because it happened when Hassan was running after Amir’s victory kite. What made this guilt feel so much worse was that Hassan had always been so good and loyal to him. Once, Hassan even defended Amir against the same boys who raped him by aiming his sling shot at them. All this made Amir feel like a coward and compared to Hassan’s bravery, he even felt jealous. One night he was tossing and turning and said to no one, “‘I watched Hassan get raped. ‘ A part of me was hoping someone would wake up and hear so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore…
I was the monster… That was the night I became an insomniac. ” (pg. 86) At that point even being around Hassan was a constant reminder of Amir’s failures and that made him angry but feeling angry added even more guilt. In Amir’s desperate attempt to get out from under feelings of crushing guilt, he planted his birthday present of a watch and some money under Hassan’s mattress and told Baba. “I knocked on Baba’s door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies. ” (pg. 104) But when Hassan replied “yes” to stealing, Amir “flinched, like I’d been slapped.
My heart sank and I almost blurted out the truth. Then I understood: This was Hassan’s final sacrifice for me. ” (pg. 105) Amir said he loved Hassan in that moment, more than he ever loved anyone but he didn’t tell the truth. He remained silent hoping that the stealing would get them fired and he could “move on, forget, start with a clean slate… be able to breathe again. ” (pg. 106) However, Baba forgave Hassan for stealing, to Amir’s complete shock, but Ali insisted they leave anyway and that broke Baba’s heart.
Amir does move on with his life but doesn’t begin to forgive himself or let go of the load of guilt he carried until the story comes full circle with Amir getting the opportunity make things right by helping his brother Hassan’s son, his nephew. There’s a statement in the beginning that caught my attention, “There is a way to be good again. ” (pg. 2) It is through all Amir’s efforts to travel back to Afghanistan to save Hassan’s now orphaned child, Sohrab, bring him back to America and adopt him that Amir begins to let go of the guilt he’s carried for so long.
He sees that he can finally start to heal because remembering events from the past stopped hurting as much when he thought about them as they once did. Finally, Hassan’s son shows his first glimpse of being happy while flying kites at the end, when Amir asks, “Do you want me to run that kite for you? ” He catches Sohrab’s glimpse of a smile when he nods “yes” and said the same thing Hassan once told him, “For you, a thousand times over. ” (pg. 371)