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The Kite Runner

Aug 31, 2008 724 Words
‘The kite runner shows that it is better to confront our mistakes than attempt to leave them behind.’ Do you agree with this interpretation of the text?

In Khaled Hosseini’s novel the Kite Runner, Amir the protagonist and narrator of the novel spends his life guilt ridden over his central mistake of abandoning his childhood friend Hassan when he is beaten and raped by the evil Assef. Amir is a 38yr old living in America with his wife Soroya, he is immediately revealed to be a deeply scared prisoner of his past- his betrayal of the loyal Hassan. This defining moment in Amir’s life continues to haunt him more than two decades later; Amir understands that his “past of unatoned sins’ will ultimately call him back to face up to his actions. Amir with the help of the dying Rahim Khan confronts his mistakes in an attempt to leave them behind. In coming to know the adult Amir, we recognise that he is clearly a damaged individual whose ability to function as a complete human being is indelibly impaired by the guilt he carries. For Amir “America was a place to bury” his memories. Soroya’s courage and goodness rubs off onto Amir. He is envious of the liberation she attains simply by speaking of and acknowledging her past. This shows Amir that redemption is achievable and that it is necessary for healing and necessary if he wants to move on. The consequences of both Amir and Baba’s actions are ongoing and shape the long term actions and behaviour of both men. While Baba’s betrayal of his devoted friend and servant Ali is terrible, he dedicates his life to atoning for his actions. This takes place in many forms- through his wealth, skills and his generosity. Baba shows the reader that betrayal is a terrible sin. But through Baba we see that redemption is possible when one takes responsibility for ones actions. This inevitably requires courage, dedication and commitment. By channelling his suffering and guilt in a constructive manner, Baba is able to build something worthwhile out of his despair and guilt. The novel shows that redemption is the key to healing. As Rahim Khan tells Amir: “...Good, read good, was born out of your father’s remorse.” Amir focuses the reader to consider what happens to an individual who does not take responsibility for his actions; when guilt is suppressed and left to fester into an uncontrollable dissatisfaction. Amir is an insomniac, perpetually haunted by his past actions. Although Amir achieves success in his life- his marriage to Soroya, the development of his writing career and a closer relationship with his father in later years- his constant guilt about the past leaves him unable to fully enjoy these accomplishments. There is a long and dark shadow over everything he does. Amir tries to bury the past through time and distance but to no avail. With Rahim Khan’s help Amir finally accepts that “There is a way to be good again”, but that will only be achieved at a great personal cost. When Amir eventually confronts the idea that he must stand up to Assef, despite his immense fear, he begins to unshackle himself from the long-standing and restrictive grip of guilt and denial. In rescuing Sohrab, Amir, like his father beings to create good from guilt. From the novel we learn that redemption is not only possible but necessary, if the crippling effects of guilt are to be overcome so that healing can occur. The guiding principle seems to be that we all must take responsibility for our actions. Forms of denial and the passing of time do not chance the fact that accountability is inevitable. Amir learns the hard way that ‘the past claws its way out.’ The novel suggests that one of the first steps in the process of redemption is taking responsibility for one’s actions. Through the characters of Baba and Amir we learn that to be able to move on you have to confront your mistakes. With the breaking of his ribs and the pain of the bodily assault Amir admits that “for the first time, since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace.’ The past for Amir has not only clawed its way out, but it has provided for a way forward.

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