Guilt has the incredible power tochange an individual’s perspective and affect them for the rest of their life.
The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini, is a world-renowned novelpublished in 2003 that tells the story of a young boy named Amir who grows upwith the guilt of having failed to fight the group of boys who raped hisclosest friend. One of the main themes Hosseini emphasizes in the novel, is thepowerful affect of guilt on one’s self. Different characters such as Amir, Sanubarand Baba use the guilt that exists in every one of them as a motive to theiractions to further develop the plot. Amir, the narrator of the novel, witnesseshis closest friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boy named Aseef and decidesnot to intervene in the situation. This one decision plagued Amir with guiltfor the next thirty years of his life. This forces Amir to travel across twocountries in an attempt to hopefully seek redemption for the apparent mistakehe thought he made. This is an example of the impact guilt can have on one’sactions.
The Kite Runner demonstratesthat the power and influence of guilt is often under looked; it has the abilityto completely change one’s actions and thoughts. The Kite Runner demonstrates the themeof guilt through the main character, Amir. The guilt that exists within Amir,affects many of his decisions and actions in the future. In the beginning ofthe story, Amir observes his close friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boynamed Aseef. It was at this moment thatAmir had to decide whether to intervene the situation or run away.
“In the end,(he) chose to run” and not stand up for Hassan. Amir’s guilt developed from themoment he decided to run away from the alley. Hassan had defended and protectedAmir for his entire life and the moment Hassan needed Amir the most, Amir lefthim in the dust. However, the hidden message Hosseni implies throughout thenovel, is misplaced guilt as even if Amir was to intervene and stand up forHassan, he would stand no chance to the older boy, Aseef. As a result, Amir unnecessarilyfeels guilty about what he did, without realizing that he wouldn’t have made adifference in the first place, even if he was to stand up for Hassan. This one decision left a stain on Amir forthe next thirty years.
A quote on pg. 88 states “I wish someone would wake meup, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore” This quote explains howguilty Amir felt after seeing Hassan get raped as he desperately sought foranyone to find out but didn’t chose to tell anyone the actual truth. Another example from the text is when Amirtries throwing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt to get Hassan to fightback and punish Amir for choosing to leave Hassan. However, Hassan refused tothrow any pomegranates at Amir, but instead smashed one into his face. A quoteon pg.94 states “I wanted Hassan to fight me back for the way I failed him”This quote indicates that Amir wanted Hassan to fight him back, so he couldhave the “punishment he craved” (93) This demonstrates that Amir wanted to feelthe act of being punished for his wrongdoing, similar to how Hassan wasbrutally raped due to Amir’s apparent mistake. Amir’s guilt forces him totravel across two countries to seek redemption for the mistake he made. 15years later, Amir’s guilt led him to make the hefty decision of returning toAfghanistan “to be good again” (189) by rescuing Hassan’s orphaned son, Sohrab,from the terrible conditions he was left to face in Kabul.
Amir sees this as anopportunity to redeem and free himself from his guilt for the one decision hemade 15 years ago. Many decisions that Amir makes throughout the Kite Runner,revolve around his guilt from the one choice of not intervening in thesituation when Hassan was getting bullied Another character in Hosseini’sKite Runner that demonstrates the power of guilt is Baba. Similar to Amir, Babais not immune to the guilt afflicted on others as his own sense of guiltaffects many of the decisions he made throughout the novel. Baba’s believedthat when someone lied they “stole away someone’s right to the truth” (223).
Contraryto his beliefs, Baba’s guilt prompts many of his actions and forces him to lieto others. Near the conclusion of the novel, it is disclosed that Amir wasHassan’s half- brother and Baba was Hassan’s real biological father. Baba, ashe stated, “stole the truth” from his loved ones such as Amir and Hassan byliving with the guilt of hiding the truth from his legitimate son, lying to hisillegitimate son and committing, in Baba’s words, his only sin of lying.
Throughout the novel, Baba’s guilt caused him to act ashamed of Amir forabsolutely nothing as Baba stated, “there’s always something missing with myson” (19). Baba always took out his guilt on Amir by constantly criticizing himof his actions, as Baba tried to act as if the guilt was nonexistent, when inreality he was ashamed of himself for lying. Baba’s guilt for not playing thefather role to Hassan, led him to do everything he could for Hassan while stillhaving the appearance as a man with one son. Baba always criticized Amirbecause he wanted Amir to be the perfect son. Baba didn’t want to feel theremorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan.There are many instances in the book where Baba forgives Hassan for hiswrongdoing even though Hassan commits the one sin that mattered to Baba whichwas lying. Baba acted as if the guilt wasnonexistent, instead taking it out on Amir by criticizing the way Amir acted.
Baba’s guilt caused him to constantly act ashamed of Amir, when in all realityhe was ashamed of himself. Baba claimed that there was always “somethingmissing in Amir” (22). Baba wanted Amir to be the perfect son, so he didn’thave to feel remorse for giving Amir the lavish life over his other son Hassan.
Baba’s guilt for not being able to be a father to Hassan led him to doeverything he could for Hassan while still keeping up appearances as arespected man with only one son. When Hassan was accused of stealing Amir’sbirthday presents, even though he committed the only sin that mattered to Baba,Baba forgave him. Baba’s guilt for not being a father to Hassan, led for him tocare deeply for Hassan and do anything and everything he could to keep Hassanin his life. Amir always believed that his father was free of guilt, theepitome of a human being, but that was not the case, not in the slightest.