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Betrayal in Khaled Hossieni's The Kite Runner

By waghorn May 07, 2013 1360 Words

There is Only One Sin...Betrayal
For there to be betrayal, there has to be trust first. For each character in The Kite Runner there were trusts of all forms. Trust of family and close friends were all betrayed. In the novel, The Kite Runner, Hosseini develops the theme of betrayal through the characters of Baba, Ali, Hassan and Amir. The betrayal begins when Amir abandons Hassan while he is being raped by Assef. Later, Rahim tells Amir that Hassan is actually his half-brother. The betrayal continues when Amir learns that his father, who he so well respected, had slept with Ali's wife and committed adultery. By doing so, Baba also betrays his own son by stealing his knowledge of having a brother.

The brotherhood that Amir and Hassan shared was stronger than two best friends. In Amir's own words , "Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And under the same roof, we spoke our first words." (Hosseni 12) Although they were close, there was an imbalance in their friendship. Hassan trusted Amir without doubt and always looked out for him, not because he was his servant but because he truly cared for him.

I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor's one-eyed German shepherd. Hassan never wanted to, but if I asked, really asked, he wouldn't deny me.... Hassan's father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad, or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could ever get. He would wag his finger and wave us down from the tree. He would take the mirror and tell us what his mother had told him, that the devil shone mirrors too, shone them to distract Muslims during prayer..... "Yes, Father," Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor's dog, was always my idea. (Hosseini 4) Hassan would always take the blame for Amir such as when they were shooting walnuts or shining mirrors at the neighbors. When Amir was given the chance to save Hassan, he failed him. When Amir finds Assef raping Hassan, he watches unnoticed from a distance and is given the chance to do what Hassan had always done, which was to put himself in immediate danger just to stand up for Hassan. He knows that Hassan would stick up for him a thousand times over but he panics. "From just around the corner, I could hear Assef's quick, rhythmic grunts. I had one last chance to make a decision. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan - the way he'd stood up for me all those times in the past.... Or I could run. In the end, I ran." (Hosseini 137) Amir leaves Hassan to rot, turning his back on him and leaving him feeling betrayed and robbed of trust. Amir had betrayed the one person who would have given his own life for him, ironically, something that not only he had done.

Baba and Ali (Hassan's father) had a friendship that mirrored that of Amir and Hassan. Both Baba and Amir were in a position of power. Even though they were close they still had that gap between friend and servant. "Ali and Baba grew up together in childhood...But in none of his stories did Baba ever refer to Ali as his friend."(Hosseini 27) Like Amir and Hassan, the servant was more loyal and trustworthy and for that trust they were betrayed. But Baba's betrayal to Ali was far more unforeseen and stronger. While Amir was already known to be not as strong or to be missing a "mean streak", Baba was a man of honour. In the early stages of the novel Baba is made to be a man without fault. He was known to create a presence wherever he went. " At parties, when all six-foot-five of him thundered into the room, attention shifted to him like sunflowers turning to the sun"(Hosseini 14). He was a 6 foot 5 proud Pushtun who drove a Mustang envied by the neighbourhood. Not only was Baba respected by his peers but he respected himself. The reader gets a understanding of Baba's morals through the eyes of Amir. We learn that he is strong in "Nang" and Namoos" which means "honor" and "pride". This made the thought of him betraying someone close as family, unthinkable. Baba's betrayal towards Ali was a sin that, under the rules of the Taliban, would get him stoned to death. Baba slept with the wife of Ali, bearing her a child (Hassan) and leaving her to claim the father as Ali. They told no one, leaving Ali to raise Hassan thinking he was his own son. Amir finds out about Baba's betrayal towards Ali later on in his life from Rahim. Rahmin told Amir that they told no one to save Baba of embarrassment. " All that a man had back then, all that he was, was his honor, his name, and if people talked...We couldn't tell anyone." Much like Hassan had felt betrayed and robbed of trust, Amir feels betrayed and robbed of a brother. This left Baba not only having betrayed his friend but also his son.

Since the story is told through the eyes of Amir, the reader understands the relationship of Baba and Amir well. The reader sees how Amir idolized and trusted Baba, how he wanted nothing but his approval. During Amir's whole childhood he struggles getting approval from Baba. Amir spends his time learning to live by Baba's morals and lessons. This is evident when Baba teaches Amir what he thinks is the only sin.

""There is only one sin ,only one. Do you understand that?"
"No, Baba jan," I said desperately wishing I didn't want to disappoint him again. "When you kill a man, you steal his life," Baba said, "You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see?"

(Hosseini 19)
In this scene Hosseni shows how Amir "desperately" wants to connect and get Baba's approval. It also shows how Baba as a man of "Nang" and "Namoos" is against lying, seeing it as stealing someone's right to the truth. But theft of the truth is what Baba did to both Amir and Hassan every day. He betrayed his own son who did nothing but fight for his approval his entire life. He lied about his own family and stole his right to a brother. Upon finding out that Hassan was his brother, Amir, himself, wonders if he would have acted differently the day he left Hassan to Assef. It makes him re-evaluate his entire life. "Why? What can you possibly say to me? I'm thirty-eight years old and I've just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie!"(Hosseini 235) It is because of the change that Amir goes through finding out about the betrayal that Baba had done to him and the magnitude of secrets that were held from him, that make this the strongest form of betrayal in the novel. Amir is distraught but through all the lies he looks for a way to fix it all.

Throughout the novel, The Kite Runner, Hosseini displays betrayal through the main characters such as Amir, Baba, Hassan and Ali. The author continually builds trust between characters to create depth of betrayal throughout the novel. These instances of betrayal play a key role in the conflicts within the novel. The betrayal of Amir to Hassan largely contributed to Amir's inner conflict which he struggles with throughout the novel. Baba's betrayal to Ali and Amir leads to Amir discovering that he has a nephew who was orphaned and he searches to rescue him. These betrayals are powerful and drive the conflicts throughout the novel The Kite Runner.

Work Cited
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner Anchor Canada, 2004 print.

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