The Kite Runner/Life of Pi: The Foil
In both The Kite Runner and Life of Pi, the relationship between the major character and a minor character—the foil—help to highlight the main character’s qualities, illuminating his traits to be seen in an extraordinary, nonstandard way. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini creates Hassan as the foil for Amir. Hassan’s character, as perfect as he is, causes Amir to pale in comparison, something that Amir channels throughout his life, governing his actions. Similarly, Yann Martel employs Richard Parker as the foil for Pi in Life of Pi. The strength and ferocity of the tiger emphasizes Pi’s hopelessness and fear. Pi utilizes these emotions to fight and continue living. In both novels, the foil character underlines the main protagonist’s characteristics and provokes certain feelings that ultimately determine his fate. In The Kite Runner, Hassan is Amir’s half-brother, best friend, and servant. His character is nearly perfect—loyal, courageous, caring, kind, and selfless. He has no evil qualities. When compared to Hassan, Amir’s value and positive qualities fall flat and are seen as insignificant and mediocre. Even more, his bad features are amplified and made more prominent. Amir cannot live up to Hassan’s goodness. This inadequateness is put into words and exemplified through Baba, who declares that, “If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull [Amir] out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he’s my son” (Hosseini 23). Baba often treated Amir and Hassan equally, which was unusual because the Hazara was essentially their servant. If Amir asked for a big and fancy kite, Baba would buy it for him—but then he would buy it for Hassan as well (Hosseini 51). These displays of affection were later explained in that Baba was actually Hassan’s real father, but the effect they had had on Amir stuck. Amir was always desperately vying for his father’s love and approval. The fondness Baba treated Hassan with vexed and aggravated him....
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