Guilt and Redemption in Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner

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Guilt and Redemption

What is Guilt?

Guilt is the overwhelming feeling of remorse that one experiences after committing a sin.

What is Redemption?

Redemption is compensating for one’s sins through actions that relieves one from guilt.


When making choices that causes one to feel guilt, one tries to purge their guilt through the act of redemption. Hosseini exhibits this through the characters of Sanaubar, Baba and Amir.

Sanaubar’s Guilt and Redemption

Sanaubar elopes with a group of singers and dancers when Hassan was less than a week old. She also knew about the sin she committed when she slept with Baba and conceived Hassan. Eventually, Sanaubar returns to Kabul to seek forgiveness from Hassan.

“I have walked long and far to see you…..You smiled come out of me, did anyone ever tell you? And I wouldn’t even hold you. Allah forgive me, I wouldn’t even hold of you.”(Hosseini, 210)—Sanaubar exhibits regret when she sees Hassan as she admits to neglecting and leaving Hassan as a newborn baby. She has return to start a relationship with Hassan as a way to redeem her sin of leaving him in the first place.

“It was Sanaubar who delivered Hassan’s son that winter of 1990….You should have seen Sanaubar with that baby, Amir jan. He became the centre of her existence…When he caught a fever, she stayed up all night, and fasted for three days.( Hosseini, 211)—To make up for her lack of presence early on in Hassan’s life, Sanaubar takes on raising his son Sohrab. She gives Sohrab the attention and love that she knew that she should have given Hassan instead of running off with a group of dancers and singers.

Baba’s Guilt and Redemption

Baba’s primary guilt is that he sleeps with Ali’s wife, Sanaubar and she bares a son, Hassan. This guilt prompts Baba to build an orphanage and to strive to do what is right when he can.

“Your father was a man torn between two halves, Amir jan: you and Hassan. He loved you both, but her couldn’t love Hassan the way he longed to, openly, and as a father…When he saw you, he saw himself…Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself.”(Hosseini 301-302)—Because a loving relationship between Hazaras and Pashtuns is frowned upon as well as adultery and the failure to comply with Ali’s honour, Baba was posed with the option of retaining his reputation or admitting to his indiscretion and openly loving Hassan as his son. Ultimately, Baba chose to keep his sin unknown to most of whom he associated with. Instead, he chose to redeem himself in a indirect way by helping those in need.

“‘Hassan, meet your birthday present…have summoned Dr. Kumar from New Delhi. He’s a plastic surgeon’… My job is to fix things on people’s bodies. Sometimes their face.’”(Hosseini, 45-46)—As we know, Baba is unable to love Hassan openly as a father because of his reputation and ethnic tensions. Because of this, Baba shows his love by giving Hassan things such as paying for his harelip to be fixed.

“ ‘Baba, have you ever thought about getting new servants?’… ‘I grew up with Ali, Baba said through clenched teeth. ‘My father took him in, he loved Ali like his own son. Forty years Ali’s been with my family. Forty goddamn years. And you think I am just going to throw him out?... I have never laid a hand on you Amir but if you ever say that again…’ He looked away shaking his head. ‘You bring me shame. And Hassan…Hassan is not going anywhere. Do you understand?’’(Hosseini, 89)— At this point, Baba and Amir have developed a decent relationship since the kite fight but as soon as Amir mentions Ali and Hassan being let go by Baba, Baba’s feelings for Amir return to what it was before, shame. Baba considers Ali and Hassan to be more like family rather than servants because he’s be with Ali the majority of his life and especially because Hassan is his son. If Hassan were to leave,...
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