“A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.” Baba says these words to Rahim Khan while he is talking about Amir at the end of Chapter 3, and the quotation reveals important traits in both Amir and Baba. With these words, Baba sums up one of Amir’s major character flaws—his cowardice—and Baba shows how much value he places in standing up for what is right. Baba is reluctant to praise Amir, largely because he feels Amir lacks the courage to even stand up for himself, leaving Amir constantly craving Baba’s approval. Amir’s desire for this approval as well as his cowardice later cause him to let Assef rape Hassan. The quotation also foreshadows the major test of Amir’s character that occurs when he must decide whether to return to Kabul to save Sohrab. As Amir searches for redemption, the question he struggles with is precisely what concerned Baba: does he have the courage and strength to stand up for what is right?
“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.” When Amir says this, toward the end of Chapter 7, he has just watched Assef rape Hassan,and rather than intervene, he ran away. Amir says he aspired to cowardice because, in his estimation, what he did was worse than cowardice. If fear of being hurt by Assef were the main reason he ran, Amir suggests that at least would have been more justified. Instead, he allowed the rape to happen because he wanted the blue kite, which he thought would prove to Baba that he was a winner like him, earning him Baba’s love and approval. The price of the kite, as Amir says, was Hassan, and this is why Amir calls Hassan the lamb he had to slay. He draws a comparison between Hassan and the lamb sacrificed during the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha to commemorate Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son to God. In this context, Hassan was the sacrifice Amir had to make to get the kite and ultimately to gain Baba’s affection.
“That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” At the outset of Chapter 1, just as the book begins, Amir writes these words. With them, he hints at the central drama of the story and the reason he is telling it. To the reader, the quotation functions as a teaser. It piques the reader’s interest without revealing exactly what Amir is talking about, and from the time period Amir mentions, twenty-six years, the reader gets an idea of just how important this moment was. As the story unfolds, we realize that the deserted alley Amir refers to is where Hassan was raped, and that this event has largely defined the course of Amir’s life since. This is what Amir means when he says that the past continues to claw its way out. Try as he might to bury it, he was unable to because his feelings of guilt kept arising. As a result, he figuratively continues peeking into the alley where Assef raped Hassan, literally meaning that he keeps going over the event in his mind.
“There is a way to be good again.” (pg. 2)
Rahim Khan said this to Amir to encourage him to help Hassan’s son escape Afghanistan.
”And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.” (pg 15) This is Amir’s assessment of his father.
It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb.” (pg. 76) Here Amir describes the look on Hassan’s face as Assef and two others rape him. The look reminds Amir of a sacrifical lamb. I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with.” (pg 165) Amir makes this comment to the reader after Soraya tells him the whole story of how she ran...
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