Afghanistan has been struck with great devastation throughout the past couple decades. It is clear to anyone who watches the news, and pays attention to world issues that the troubles these people have had to face, through extremist groups controlling their country, have been life altering. A situation that Canadians have been honoured to have never understood. Author Khaled Hosseini, displays a new perspective in this novel, which describes the upmost issues which Afghans’ were forced to deal with and the difficult realities which they seem to face.
In The Kite Runner, Hosseini displays the unique relationships between father and son, upper and lower class, and ethnic diversity to notion love and sacrifice, or lack thereof, for the greater needs of the supported individual. These relationships are portrayed and surrounded by narrator, Amir who describes his life journey through the cold years of Afghanistan. Amir’s entire life is instantly altered through his lack of sacrifice for Hassan, when he is brutally raped by protagonist Assef.
The reason that Amir doesn’t stand up for his best friend is ironically resulting from his need for his father’s approval, because of the lacking relationship which they seem to share. Amir seems to win Baba’s approval in the sense that he has become accomplished, from his kite flying, yet he lets his father down with one of the most important lessons he is ever taught. Baba tells his good friend Rahim Khan that, “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who doesn’t stand up for himself” (Hosseini, 24). When Amir fails to show sacrifice in this crucial situation, he is consequently proving Baba right.
This affects Amir the rest of his life and ultimately results in his maturity through his journey back to Kabul. When Amir and Baba move to America, as war refugees, Baba displays a different side becoming more supportive of Amir. He shows a great deal of sacrifice by leaving Afghanistan, where he is very wealthy and highly respected, to move to America, becoming a poor man that shamelessly has to work low-end jobs to make a living.
Baba openly admits this as they are adjusting to their new lives saying, “Besides, I didn’t bring us here for me, did I? (137) Like Amir, Baba has a past that he is not particularly proud of, which he often reflected onto Amir, by not treating him fairly. Yet he always shows sacrifice towards Amir, thus unveiling the unconditional love he always had for him. The relationship which Amir is seemingly destine to enter, based on the events of his past is with Hassan’s orphaned son Sohrab. After Amir’s revolting meeting with Baba’s good friend Rahim Khan upon his return to the Middle East, he realizes the faults that his father had left with Hassan and Ali, and the dignity he had taken away from them through these lies.
Amir’s compassion is finally shown for Hassan as he decides to travel back to the war zone that has become of his home, in Kabul. In turn risking his life to save what is left of Hassan’s life in Sohrab. Amir has this realization after his conversation with Rahim Khan, “Hassan had loved me once, loved me in a way that no one ever had or ever would again. He was gone now, but a little part of him lived on. It was in Kabul. Waiting” (Hosseini, 239). Amir’s maturity and development from the beginning of the novel is shown, through his realization of what Hassan had always meant to him.
As he arrives in Kabul, he is faced with the greatest challenge of his life, as he battles his lifetime enemy, Assef who has taken Sohrab from a local orphanage. As he is forced to risk his life to save Sohrab, he exhibit’s unconditional love for both Sohrab and Hassan, which he had failed to do previously in his life. Throughout their venture back to America, Amir continuously demonstrates acts of his love, especially during times of hardship, like Sohrab’s attempted murder. In Amir’s panic he begins to pray for the first time since he was a child saying, “I see Baba was wrong, there is God, there always had been” (364).
Despite this painful experience, Amir continues to show support towards Sohrab towards the end of the novel when they finally seem to connect again through the flying of kites. Amir ends the story saying, “It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything right. It didn’t make anything right. Only a smile” (391). The most significant relationship throughout the novel is between the narrator, Amir and Hassan. Although it seems to be a relatively short period of the story, the relationship that Amir has with Hassan as a child, defines the rest of his life.
The two boys seem to be best friends growing up, described by Amir’s many fine memories of their childhood. However, Amir often mistreats Hassan in a passive-aggressive manor because he is quite jealous of the attention he gets from Baba, as he often feels he is not treated equal. This is demonstrated when Amir teases Hassan asking him “What would you do if I hit you with this [pomegranate]? “(97) This behaviour proves Amir’s jealousy, and also shows that although the two are best friends, he seems to display racial inequality at times, thinking that Hassan is a Hazera servant and is therefore beneath him.
Later in the novel Amir mentions how Hassan was probably Baba’s favourite son mentioning that “… Maybe in the most secret recesses of his heart, Baba had thought of him as his true son” (378). The most important event from the narrator’s perspective, is the scene which Amir fails to protect Hassan from Assef, eventually getting raped because Hassan’s loyalty and Amir’s cowardly decision to not protect Hassan. This is important because it shows Hassan to be the sacrificial lamb that accepts the terrible crime for the love of his friend.
As for Amir, it makes him reflect on himself and eventually mature so that he is able to show sacrifice to do what is right, as Baba had always wanted for him. While Amir portrays a more narcissistic attitude in his childhood, which he must outgrow and overcome as he matures, Hassan seems to be one of the only characters of reason and consistency throughout the novel. Despite all the mistreatment he is shown throughout his life, he always stays loyal to the people in his life, consistently showcasing unconditional love through sacrifice, especially towards Amir.
This is most obvious on Amir’s journey back to Kabul, when he speaks to Rahim Khan who tells Amir his story and giving him a letter from Hassan, which at one point mentions, “… I dream that someday you will return to Kabul… If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you” (230). Despite everything Amir has done to betray Hassan throughout his childhood, Hassan not only forgives him, but lovingly welcomes him back as a friend. In trying times, relationships tend to be the most important aspect above all, as it is necessary to show compassion and often make sacrifices for the needs of others.
Often times, people are tested in these difficult situations and fail to show the loyalty which they should. In The Kite Runner, both scenarios are true towards narrator Amir, and the people important in his journey. Baba mentions to Amir as they get to America that “it may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime” (150). Author Khaled Hosseini often proves this through these relationships, that these decisions in the moment, can show sacrifice and notion love for a greater cause.