For years psychologists have studied how people evolve. Some believe that we are predetermined through genetics. Clichés such as, “The acorn does not fall far from the tree,” suggest that parents and lineage are the greatest influence. Others believe that role models are more influential. Another cliché “like father, like son” did not derive out of nowhere. The book, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hossieni, exemplifies this belief. Early in their relationship, the protagonists, father Baba and son Amir appear very different. Amir glorifies his father but is disappointed when it is not reciprocated. Despite their initial differences, their parallels are shown as the book progresses. These similarities become even more obvious when the pair flee to America. Then, a shocking secret is revealed that forever tests the relationship of Baba and Amir. This forms the basis of the novel: the underlying similarities between Baba and Amir. Baba and Amir are similar because they both betray someone they love, they both express remorse for their betrayal and they both ultimately redeem themselves.
Amir and Baba were both willing to betray people that they loved for their own gain. Early in the novel, a local bully confronts Amir and Hassan. The bully, Assef, threatens to beat them up and hurt them. It is at this time that Hassan steps in with his signature slingshot and threatens to shoot Assef. He stands up to Assef, calmly stating, “You are right Agha. But perhaps you didn’t notice that I’m the one who is holding the slingshot. If you make a move they’ll have to change your nickname from ‘Assef the Ear Eater’ to ‘One Eyed Assef,’ because I have this rock pointed at your eye (Hosseini, 45-46).”
Assef, like most of the neighborhood kids, knows Hassan is deadly accurate with his slingshot. Assef wisely retreats. However, he warns Hassan, “You should know something about me Hazara,” Assef says gravely. “I’m a very patient person. This doesn’t end today believe me. (Hosseini, 46).” Assef’s threat shows how Hassan’s bravery saved Amir. Amir remains silent to keep himself safe and to avoid Assef’s rage. This incident shows the loyalty of Hassan and the cowardice of Amir. He was willing to face his fears to protect himself and Amir. Later in the novel, Amir witnesses Assef bullying Hassan. This incident occurs shortly after the kite-fighting tournament. Amir wins the tournament and Hassan tells him that he will run the final kite for Amir “a thousand times over.” This reaffirms Hassan’s loyalty. Hassan stays true to his promise and runs the kite successfully for Amir. Assef then corners Hassan and offers a compromise. Assef claims that if Hassan were to give up the kite, Assef would let him go unharmed. However, Hassan remains loyal to Amir and refuses this settlement. Hassan cries, “Amir agha won the kite tournament and I ran this kite for him. I ran it fairly. This is his kite (Hosseini, 77).” Upon hearing this, Assef states that he will do something so terrible to Hassan, that Hassan will forever remember his choice. Assef begins to rape Hassan. Amir is hiding behind a pillar and witnesses the injustice-taking place. He has a moment to collect himself and consider his options. Amir thinks to himself, “I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step in that alley; stand up for Hassan--- the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past--- and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run. In the end I ran (Hosseini, 82).”
In his cowardice, Amir only protects himself. He clearly remembered how Hassan defended him yet he would not intervene to protect his friend. It is then revealed that years earlier, Baba had also betrayed a loved one. Ali and Baba had known each other practically their entire existence. Baba’s family adopted Ali as a servant after his parents were killed in a car accident. Baba and Ali were approximately the same...
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