The Kite Runner: Forgiveness, Loyalty, and the Quest for Redemption
Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is an award-winning novel and considered one of today’s most popular, contemporary classics. The story is one of familiar themes such as loyalty, forgiveness, betrayal, love, and redemption. It follows the tale of Amir and how he must atone for his sins and find a way to “be good again” (Hosseini 2). The quintessential message of this book relies on the idea of second chances. Themes of redemption, betrayal, loyalty, and forgiveness are not only shown without doubt through this book, but are also common among many literary works and religions. Hosseini is successful in showing the significance of these themes throughout the novel. The Kite Runner begins with a nameless narrator who immediately refers back to an incident that made him “become what I am today”(Hosseini 1). The narrator starts to recall a flashback and begins his story when he was a child. He admits that he regrets some things he did in his childhood and has been, “peeking into the that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years” (Hosseini 1): he has a guilty conscience. He bemoans this fact and shares this with no one. The narrator is named Amir, who is the protagonist of the story. Although he’s not the most supportive character in the book, Amir is the one the reader feels the most emotion towards. His characteristics are revealed when he is faced with an ultimatum to either to help his friend Hassan or run away. Amir chooses: “In the end, I ran. I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of getting hurt,” which shows how Amir isn’t the most sympathetic or brave character in the book (Hosseini 77). He is changed after this event and is racked by a guilty conscience for the rest of his life. Amir isn’t heartless, but a conflicted character who is extremely cowardly and is raised to believe his friend is a servant of a lower social class. Amir’s actions are never justified, but the reader can see how Amir struggles between the logical and emotional sides of his being. Amir epitomizes the theme of redemption in how after his betrayal, he returns to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan’s son Sohrab just as Hassan had rescued him so many times during their childhood. Meghan O’Rourke, in an online article titled “The Kite Runner: Do I really have to read it?,” states that most Americans “avoid foreign literature like the plague,” but for The Kite Runner it was the “struggle of personal recovery and unconditional love, couched in redemptive language [which made it] immediately legible to Americans.” She also comments that this novel “remind[s] us that we are all human alike, fighting similar daily and lifelong battles, just in different circumstances.” Hosseini’s method has proven to be effective in how so many Americans have read his book. By using familiar situations, people can connect to the novel and see how prevalent the themes of redemption and forgiveness are. Hosseini’s fictional writing makes many readers, regardless of country, culture, and religion, feel ashamed of their own betrayals as well as uplifted by Amir’s redemption. In this book, many events occur where the reader will experience many emotions and thoughts through the author’s descriptive narrative. One event stands out above the rest which is the rape scene where Amir says, “[I] almost said something…I didn’t…I just watched. Paralyzed…I was weeping”(Hosseini 73). At this turning point in the novel, many characters are changed and essential facts about the characters are uncovered. For example, Amir is faced with a guilty conscience and obsession for the rest of his life after this brutal crime, which ultimately changes him forever. This event also conveys Hassan’s loyal character, which is evidenced when he refuses to give up Amir’s kite. Assef and his gang remark “A loyal Hazara. Loyal as a dog”(Hosseini 72). This event further shows how Hassan demonstrates the theme of loyalty and his...
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