In Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel The Kite Runner, two boys, Hassan and Amir, have a friendship that is not as typical as most children’s. Although they do carve into a tree that they are the “sultans of Kabul”, their friendship is weak and one sided. These boys grew up in Kabul, and although their childhood friendship may have seemed like something out of a book, complete with pomegranate trees and story telling, it was dark and emotionally wearing. A main reason for this was because of the one subtle difference between these boys, omitting the differences in character.
Hassan is a Hazara and Amir is a Pashtun. For this reason the Afghan society has classified Hassan as a lower human being and he, along with his father, is in servitude towards Amir and his family. Amir’s lack of self-confidence throughout the novel hinders his ability to have a true friendship with Hassan. Eventually Amir tries to break away from the power of the jealousy and guilt that Hassan has brought into his life.
An underlying cause of the problems Amir has with his friendship pertaining to Hassan is that he is jealous of Hassan.
This jealousy causes him to test Hassan, and to take advantage of Hassan’s unwavering loyalty. This is just to prove that Hassan is lower than he is. Amir confirms this by humiliating Hassan to himself, by taking advantage of Hassan’s illiteracy to amuse himself, such as when he convinces Hassan that imbecile meant smart and intelligent.
Amir is not accomplishing anything by teasing Hassan except that he is establishing that he is smarter. Amir feels that he has to prove himself because he lacks acceptance from his father, so he teases Hassan in order to become acceptable to his father.
Amir once again has to prove to himself that he has the ultimate superiority by testing Hassan when he tells him to eat dirt. Hassan says that he would, which is all Amir needs to expand his ego and confirm that he is still above Hassan. Furthermore, Amir is also jealous because his father, whom he longs for his approval, seems to favor Hassan. Hassan is athletic and Baba,Amir’s father, has said that he associates himself with Hassan over Amir. Amir’s jealousy arose from his avid pursuit and evident failure to achieve his father’s illusive approval.
Because of the lack of approval from his father, Amir finds it necessary to tear down Hassan in order to build himself up. The friendship exemplified in The Kite Runner is very weak because Amir thinks of Hassan as his servant, which explains why he is constantly testing him and does not stand up for him as a true friend would do. Hazaras are not accepted in the Afghan society that Hassan and Amir grew up in, but Amir does not refute the biased and racist culture set out in front of him. Instead, he embraces it.
Even at the susceptible age of twelve, Amir is well aware of the principles of right and wrong and he chooses to do wrong. He chooses to do wrong because he feels he will escape from the struggles Hassan has brought upon him. Hassan gets harassed by his peers, an example of this is when Assef, the local bully, bullies him by saying, “Afghanistan is the land of the Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan.
They dirty our blood….. How can you talk to him, play with him, let him touch you? “. When Hassan is harassed, Amir does nothing. Instead, he almost blurts out that Hassan is nothing but a servant when in fact he spends all of his free time playing like true friends play. Amir wants to be accepted by his peers, peers such as Assef, Wali, and Kamal. He wants to be accepted with such a passion that he chooses to disregard his friend in order to gain approval from these boys. Amir ends up sacrificing his morals for popularity.
Another example of how Amir is a coward and only wants to be accepted by his peers and his father is when he turns his back on Hassan when Hassan is raped. Hassan gets raped by Assef while trying to complete the task of kite running for Amir. Amir witnesses this horrible act and does nothing to stop it. He does not step in to help his friend because he believes that Hassan is sacrificing himself for him. This is a completely selfish thought on Amir’s part because no one should have to bear another persons burden, even if one person is another person’s servant.
The choice made by Amir to sacrifice his morals and rationalize his decisions forever haunts him and makes it harder to escape the power of his own guilt. Amir is clearly an emotionally unstable person, but his resentment towards Hassan is deepened because of his own guilt. Amir feels extreme guilt after he watches his friend get raped in an alley. After witnessing this he feels that he can no longer be in the same room as Hassan. “I’d hear Hassan shuffling around the kitchen in the morning, hear the clinking of silverware, the whistle of the teapot.
I’d wait to hear the door shut and only then I would walk down to eat” is an example of how he tries to avoid him. This shows that Amir cannot face his guilt. he knows that he has done something wrong but refuses to confront it and redeem himself and his friendship with Hassan. Amir realizes that he has done a grave dishonor to Hassan. He believed that he was a “monster” that caused Hassan so much trouble. Amir comes to terms with the fact that he is a selfish, immature person, yet instead of accepting that fact and trying to get Hassan’s forgiveness, he once again betrays his friendship.
Because Hassan is a reflection of Amir’s guilt, Amir believes in an elementary manner that if he rids himself of what to him is the symbol of his guilt, he will also be freed of the guilt. This is why he frames Hassan of thievery. This plan to accuse Hassan of thievery ultimately backfires and causes Amir even more personal anguish. Hassan then left and even though Amir felt his absence would free him from the guilt and jealousy, he ends up even more full of guilt.
Amir thinks of Hassan as less worthy human being even though he is jealous of him, this mix of jealousy and resentment leads to a guilt that Amir handles unethically. Amir treats Hassan much like a dog. He believes that he can treat him as roughly as possible, but the animal will be forever loyal. Amir does not believe that he needs to defend Hassan, since Hassan is ultimately there to sacrifice himself for Amir. Amir is jealous of Hassan because of Hassan’s approval earned by Baba, and this causes Amir to search for other ways to expand his ego.
Amir resents Hassan because of the guilt that Amir has caused himself. The choices made by Amir and Hassan defined who they were and who they would become. Amir allows his original thoughts about Hassan, thoughts of loyalty and true friendship, to be tainted because he is weak. Although Amir and Hassan carved their names into a tree, Amir’s character hinders their ability to be best friends and their bond is a far cry from even an equal friendship. While trying to escape the grasps of jealousy and guilt, Amir ultimately falls deeper in the hole he dug himself.
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