The novels “Mister Pip” by Lloyd Jones and “The Kite Runner” by Khlaed Hosseini reveal that identity is revealed when confronted with overwhelming obstacles. It is through a series of unfortunate events, such as death and factors relating to culture and time, that the protagonists, Amir and Matilda begin their road to self discovery. Following the death of Baba, Amir is forced to take responsibility for his actions as he no longer has his father to fall back on. Additionally, he is released from any moral obligation he may have felt he had towards Baba.
In the beginning of the novel, Amir overhears a disheartening conversation between Rahim Khan and his father who expresses that: “He’s always buried in those books or shuffling around the house like he’s lost in some dream… I wasn’t like that. Baba sounded frustrated, almost angry” (Hosseini 23). Following this conversation, Amir distances himself from his “true identity” in an attempt to gain Baba’s affection: “Maybe he’d call me Amir jan like Rahim Khan did. And maybe, just maybe, I would be pardoned for killing my mother” (Hosseini 49).
Ironically, it is this sudden urge for approval that leads to Amir’s cowardice — the one character trait Baba worked to avoid — which is the rationale behind not preventing the rape of Hassan, the climax of the novel. Amir inexplicitly states that his father’s death is the catalyst to his changing persona when he says: “My whole life I had been Baba’s son. Now he was gone. Baba couldn’t show me the way anymore; I’d have to find it on my own. The thought of it terrified me” (Hosseini 174); following this unfortunate event Amir makes the hasty decision to visit Rahim Khan, who drives Amir to the path of redemption where he attempts to make mends for the wrongdoings his “past self” had committed.
Amir resolves the issues that have haunted him for years and goes the extra mile by putting aside the differences between the two cultures and adopting a Hazara boy — Amir becomes a changed man. In the wake of Dolores’ death, Matilda is forced to step outside of her comfort zone and leave Bougainville behind in order to come to terms with her identity. Despite suffering through a number of unfavourable events, it is her mother’s death that triggers her inability to feel: “I do not know what you are supposed to do with memories like these.
It feels wrong to want to forget. Perhaps this is why we write these things down, so we can move on” (Jones 179); through writing about these events in chronological order, Matilda is able to begin the healing process of her mental wounds and continue to capitalize on her true identity. Ironically, it is following this barbarous event that Matilda comes to recognize the beauty in Bougainville Island: “All the lovely things in the world came into view—the gleaming sea, the sky, the trembling green palms” (Jones 148).
It seems as if this loss had brought clarity to Matilda’s life as she begins to disconnect herself from the island she once referred to as “home”, and makes the immense expedition to Australia and England. This exemplifies the idea that in order for someone to rise, another individual must die. Matilda’s happiness and search for her inner identity is dependent upon Dolores and Mr. Watts giving up their utmost basic human right: life (Robbins, 2007). Although it is a tragic situation, this event highlights Matilda’s inner strength.
Despite losing the will to live, she rides out the storm and turns to writing about the unfortunate event. As a result of these tragic circumstances, Matilda makes a name for herself as she analyzes and scrutinizes every detail of her life through means of writing whilst simultaneously keeping Mr. Watts’ and her mother’s memory alive. By doing so, Matilda is able to accomplish her dream of working in the education sector. I As a result of conflicting intercultural relationships, Amir treats those with whom he is close with, with disrespect; however, it is through these errors in judgement that Amir discovers his true self.
Culture and ethnicity play a significant role in defining ones identity, as is revealed when Amir learns that his people, the Pashtuns, had tyrannized the Hazaras: “I read that my people, the Pashtuns, had persecuted and oppressed the Hazaras. It said the Hazaras had tried to rise against the Pashtuns in the nineteenth century, but the Pashtuns had “quelled them with unspeakable violence. ” The book said that my people had killed the Hazaras, driven them from their lands, burned their homes, and sold their women” (Hosseini 8).
Despite gaining this knowledge, Amir continues to use his ethnicity to his advantage because being a Pashtun means that he is in a position of supremacy, while Hassan holds a subordinate status in Afghan society (Saraswat, 2014). Amir justifies his actions based on the notion that Hazaras are underserving of any respect due to their low position on the social ladder in Afghanistan. Amir’s cultural upbringing also teaches him that the root of all evil lies in theft: “Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one.
And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft” (Hosseini 17); this teaching becomes a central part of Amir’s cultural identity for years to come, and remains the dominant theme of the novel. When Rahim Kahan discloses the family secret that Hassan is his brother, Amir concludes that the life he had lived was nothing but a constructed reality “made possible by a chain of stealing” (Raza, 2014). Amir had been robbed of a possible brotherhood, and just as Amir had betrayed Hassan, Baba had deceived Amir in the worst possible manner.
Nevertheless, it is through this groundbreaking disclosure that Amir begins to make amends with his past and redeems himself through rescuing Sohrab. Finally, Sunni Muslims place great emphasis on the idea of redemption: “I would, if I disobeyed my Lord, Indeed have fear of the penalty of a Mighty Day” (Koran 39:13); thus, one can assume that Amir commits to adopting Sohrab in order to appease his god, Allah, and begin to atone for his sins; this demonstrates the undeniable influence that culture has on Amir’s identity. Although culture does not dictate Amir’s personality, it most definitely played a noteworthy role in shaping his persona.