Khaled Hosseni’s novel The Kite Runner is one full of twists and turns, especially in the lives of his characters. It epitomizes the transient nature of humanity, and how quickly and suddenly the “course of a whole lifetime” can be redirected or shattered, simply by the presence or occurrence of one or two key events, that could take place in but a single day. Amir’s life is repeatedly subjected to these key events, events that shape and reshape the course of Amir’s life, his mindset, and ultimately his values.
During Hassan’s rape on the day he won the kite running tournament, Amir’s inaction in response to that horrific act left him and his conscience scarred for life. Amir’s consequent set up of Hassan and Ali, in another selfish act to purge himself of his wrongdoing by attempting to rid himself of Hassan, resulted in both his and Baba’s devastation at the loss of people who symbolised a part of their childhood, their life. Rahim Khan’s call, convincing Amir to return to Kabul to “redeem” himself was another turning point in Amir’s life, leading up to his eventual confrontation with Assef, the catharsis of the novel in a sense.
All these events, most of them arguably unfair, took place in the space of no more than a few days, yet each holds more significance in Amir’s life than the rest of it together, based on the author’s portrayal of this character. Baba’s statement holds true throughout the novel with respect to Amir’s life, and may be considered highly prophetic. The first of the key events in Amir’s life, and possibly the most significant, was witnessing Hassan’s rape as a bystander, while doing nothing to stop it.
Throughout Amir’s childhood, Hassan has been portrayed as a loyal servant, yet at the same time, a friend to Amir. His Hazara birthright dictated that this would be his place in society, and he accepted it graciously, serving Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy, with all his heart, despite their similarity in age. Amir treated this pseudo-“friendship” with a certain degree of contempt, likely due to the fact that at the same time, Hassan was his servant, less educated, less worthy than he was.
What he yearned for instead, with greater passion than anything else throughout his childhood, was the acknowledgement and “Baba’s love”, something which he felt was not present in sufficient quantity in his life. The fact that Baba showed uncanny interest in the well-being of Hassan, his servant, did nothing to relieve Amir of this burden in himself. When the time came and the strength of the bond between Hassan and Amir was tested, it is clear that while Hassan chose his Amir’s acknowledgement in exchange for his own welfare, Amir would not do the same for Hassan, who “[was] just a Hazara.
I should not be expected to defend him”. While Amir obtained his father’s love from the kite which Hassan risked his life to protect, Amir clearly cannot overcome his resulting strong conscience and sense of morality, and could only temporarily “[forget] what [he] had done”. In the space of a day, Amir’s conscience from then on was forever pitted against him, for an unfair choice he was made to make as a young boy. This is what sets up the direction of Amir’s life henceforth, triggering an unstoppable chain of events. The irony of the time it took for such a significant change to occur is perfectly exemplified in Baba’s prophecy.
Courtney from Study Moose
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