A tragic hero is a literary character who suffers from a tragic downfall from one’s own error. The concept of a tragic hero could be interpreted as a formula for drama in Ancient Greece and modern literature. In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir is an example of a modern-day tragic hero. His superiority characteristic is shown through his selfish nature and attention-seeking, leading into conflicts he formed, therefore, causing punishment, until he redeemed himself and gained wisdom.
A typical tragic hero would experience high status as the first stage.
Amir boasts his image as high status or superior against Hassan, which he mainly receives from Baba. In Afghanistan, being a Hazara is known as a lower rank and a Pashtun is a higher rank, in this way, Amir feels as if he’s superior to Hassan. When Amir describes his and Hassan’s social differences, he claims, “I went past the rose bushes to Baba’s mansion, Hassan to the mud shack where he had been born, where he’d lived his entire life”(Hosseini 6).
Amir is differentiating between the environment where he is from and where Hassan is from. Since Hassan is a Hazara he has lived in poverty his entire lifetime. Amir is leaning towards the idea of higher class to lower class through religion in Afghanistan, which is vividly obvious that the message he is trying to put out is that he is wealthy and superior compared to Hassan who lives in a mud shack.
This is significant because the fact that Amir believes he is more superior and high class than Hassan, brings out more conflict and scenarios that the book is based off. When talking about his father, Amir explains Baba as “…running his own business by becoming one of the richest merchants in Kabul. Baba and Rahim Khan built a wild successful carpet-exporting business, two pharmacies, and a restaurant” (Hosseini 15). Amir is describing how proud he is that Baba is his father with being the most richest and respected man. Since Baba is deeply admired and wealthy, Amir is considered as high status through blood and it’s inherited to him from Baba. As being Baba’s son, Amir takes advantage of privilege and uses it against Hassan, the servant.
There are multiple conflicts and situations where Amir had demonstrated his tragic flaws, that had impacted not only himself but others as well, negatively. For example, in Amir’s selfish perspective, he believes that capturing the kite would gain Baba’s respect. Inattentive of his surroundings and only longing for Baba’s admiration, Amir exclaims, “ … victory. Salvation. Redemption. If Baba was wrong and there was a God like they said in school, then He’d let me win. I didn’t know what the other guy was playing for, maybe just bragging rights. But this was my one chance to become someone who was looked at, not seen, listened to, not heard” (Hosseini 65). Here, Amir’s selfish nature claims that if he wins the kite competition, Baba would not give his attention to anyone else, but only to Amir, known as Baba’s only son. Amir is extremely determined and inspired to win because Amir “hadn’t turned out like him. Not at all” (Hosseini 19). Amir felt as if he needed to prove to Baba that he is in a way, the perfect son for Baba to raise and he needed to somehow make out that he wasn’t necessarily, personality wise, similar to Baba. Amir couldn’t care less for the others playing but only cares about the reason of why he is playing. This is significant because the reason why Amir wants to win the kite competition is to impress Baba and only Baba, which is the cause of the conflict that happened to Hassan. After Amir had won the kite competition he went to look for Hassan, who was looking for Amir’s kite, founded in the alley with three bullies. Amir proceeds to observe the incident claiming, “I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan-the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past-and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run” (Hosseini 77).
Amir has the chance to save Hassan from being harmed and take action in the right way, but he doesn’t. Instead, he chose to run away because of his own selfish needs. Amir “was afraid of getting hurt” (Hosseini 77). Even in the moment where Hassan is in danger, Amir continues to think of his own needs, “to win Baba” (Hosseini 77). Even though Hassan has defended Amir, even when he is getting sexually assaulted, Amir does not do the same. The result of Amir’s inconsiderate desires causes Hassan, to be sexually assaulted, which will impact both throughout the novel.
Regardless of Amir having the choice to make the right decision, Amir had committed mistakes in his actions leading to the guiltiness haunting him and not receiving what he desires. Amir would think that Baba would want to give his attention higher towards him, but instead, Baba claims, “I’ve never laid a hand on you, Amir, but you ever say that again…you bring me shame. And Hassan…Hassan’s not going anywhere, do you understand?” (Hosseini 90) Amir had asked Baba if he was going to get new servants, with the intention of getting rid of Hassan, since the reminiscence of what had occurred to Hassan kept lingering in Amir’s thoughts. Baba had explained to Amir that Hassan isn’t going anywhere and he remains with Baba. Amir is ashamed by the fact that no matter what he attempts to do, including watching Hassan get sexually assaulted and winning the kite competition, Hassan isn’t going anywhere. Piling with guilt, Amir says out loud, ‘“I watched Hassan get raped,’ I said to no one” (Hosseini 86). Saying this out loud, reveals that Amir couldn’t control his guiltiness anymore since it flowed out his mouth as the truth. With the thoughts of watching Hassan get raped, constantly wrapped around his head, Amir then realizes that Hassan shouldn’t have had to experience that incident. Amir was aware that he should’ve took action in the tragedy. All throughout Amir’s life, he was living behind a lie that haunted him every time Hassan was brought up.
Throughout all of what Amir had experienced, he had received wisdom and knowledge from what he had experienced, regaining balance. For instance, Amir had rescued Sohrab, Hassan’s son, which was done due to reflecting upon his mistakes. After fighting with Assef to save Sohrab, Amir claims, “…for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that, in some hidden nook in a corner of my mind, I’d even been looking forward to this” (Hosseini 289). Amir had fought Assef in exchange for saving Sohrab. He had felt at peace since fighting Assef symbolized his redemption, indirectly to Hassan. Amir had felt as if he redeemed himself from what he had to Hassan. By saving Sohrab, demonstrated Amir had proven to overcome his challenges. He had no longer shown selfishness since he risked his own life to save another. His selfishness had faded away. As Amir had attempted to adopt Sohrab, he pours out his emotions to him saying, ‘“You know, I’ve done a lot of things I regret in my life,’ I said, ‘and maybe none more than going back on the promise I made you. But that will never happen again, and I am so profoundly sorry. I ask for your bakhshish, your forgiveness’” (Hosseini 355). Amir is stating his regrets in ways of apologizing to Sohrab, although his intention could possibly be for Hassan. He takes the opportunity he can, including, wanting to adopt Sohrab and care for him since he feels that it was the least he could do for the pain that haunted himself and Hassan. Amir’s confessions and attempts to adopting Hassan distinctly showed that Amir had gained wisdom from his experience from saving Sohrab and felt as if he had unleashed his culpability.
Amir’s traits of selfishness and high superiority led him to discipline, where he gained wisdom and maturity. The novel, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, portrays the idea of a tragic hero is similar to any other in literature, including the concept of everyone deserving a second chance to redeem themselves. Amir’s characteristics had unlocked his knowledge and maturity at the end of the novel, where he regains balance. Each individual has the ability to make amends with tragic flaws, disregarding how tremendous it is.