The Kite Runner: Forgiveness, Loyalty, and the Quest for Redemption Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is an award-winning novel and considered one of today’s most popular, contemporary classics. The story is one of familiar themes such as loyalty, forgiveness, betrayal, love, and redemption. It follows the tale of Amir and how he must atone for his sins and find a way to “be good again” (Hosseini 2). The quintessential message of this book relies on the idea of second chances.
Themes of redemption, betrayal, loyalty, and forgiveness are not only shown without doubt through this book, but are also common among many literary works and religions. Hosseini is successful in showing the significance of these themes throughout the novel. The Kite Runner begins with a nameless narrator who immediately refers back to an incident that made him “become what I am today”(Hosseini 1). The narrator starts to recall a flashback and begins his story when he was a child.
He admits that he regrets some things he did in his childhood and has been, “peeking into the that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years” (Hosseini 1): he has a guilty conscience.
He bemoans this fact and shares this with no one. The narrator is named Amir, who is the protagonist of the story. Although he’s not the most supportive character in the book, Amir is the one the reader feels the most emotion towards. His characteristics are revealed when he is faced with an ultimatum to either to help his friend Hassan or run away.
Amir chooses: “In the end, I ran. I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of getting hurt,” which shows how Amir isn’t the most sympathetic or brave character in the book (Hosseini 77). He is changed after this event and is racked by a guilty conscience for the rest of his life. Amir isn’t heartless, but a conflicted character who is extremely cowardly and is raised to believe his friend is a servant of a lower social class. Amir’s actions are never justified, but the reader can see how Amir struggles between the logical and emotional sides of his being.
Amir epitomizes the theme of redemption in how after his betrayal, he returns to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan’s son Sohrab just as Hassan had rescued him so many times during their childhood. Meghan O’Rourke, in an online article titled “The Kite Runner: Do I really have to read it? ,” states that most Americans “avoid foreign literature like the plague,” but for The Kite Runner it was the “struggle of personal recovery and unconditional love, couched in redemptive language [which made it] immediately legible to Americans. She also comments that this novel “remind[s] us that we are all human alike, fighting similar daily and lifelong battles, just in different circumstances. ” Hosseini’s method has proven to be effective in how so many Americans have read his book. By using familiar situations, people can connect to the novel and see how prevalent the themes of redemption and forgiveness are. Hosseini’s fictional writing makes many readers, regardless of country, culture, and religion, feel ashamed of their own betrayals as well as uplifted by Amir’s redemption.
In this book, many events occur where the reader will experience many emotions and thoughts through the author’s descriptive narrative. One event stands out above the rest which is the rape scene where Amir says, “[I] almost said something…I didn’t…I just watched. Paralyzed…I was weeping”(Hosseini 73). At this turning point in the novel, many characters are changed and essential facts about the characters are uncovered. For example, Amir is faced with a guilty conscience and obsession for the rest of his life after this brutal crime, which ultimately changes him forever.
This event also conveys Hassan’s loyal character, which is evidenced when he refuses to give up Amir’s kite. Assef and his gang remark “A loyal Hazara. Loyal as a dog”(Hosseini 72). This event further shows how Hassan demonstrates the theme of loyalty and his unconditional love for his friend. This incident reveals several key themes, symbols, and details about the main characters in the novel. Harvey Freedenberg in an online article titled “The Kite Runner,” says that Hosseini “demonstrates striking skill at melding a page-turning story with intensely involving characters and conflicts. He says what makes people love the book so much is, “ that it wrestles with themes… [Of] friendship, betrayal, the relationship between fathers and sons, the quest for redemption and the power of forgiveness. ” Erin Miller in an online article titled “Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini” complements Freedenberg’s analysis by saying that another reason why so many people love this book is that “The core story could be set in any culture because it deals with issues that are universal,” so readers can relate to the familiar themes.
This view is carried out with the supportive character, Hassan, who plays a significant role in the novel by representing a Christ figure who is forever forgiving of Amir. Hassan is the, “harelipped kite runner” whose only friend is Amir (Hosseini 2). Hassan demonstrates the themes of second chances and forgiveness through his actions of kindness. For example, when Assef and his gang come to torment Amir, Hassan comes to the rescue with his slingshot. Although Amir never considers him to be his friend, Hassan proves to be a flawless servant to his half-brother, even after Amir betrays him.
Throughout the story, Amir remembers Hassan by his kind-hearted phrase, “For you, a thousand times over,” which evidences how magnanimous and unselfish Hassan’s character is (Hosseini 2). Amir admits when they were children that, “Hassan never wanted to, but…[he] wouldn’t deny me” and that he, “never told on me” which again shows how loyal Hassan is (Hosseini 4). Toward the end of the book, Hassan is murdered for standing up for something that was rightfully Amir’s and being “a liar and a thief like all Hazaras” (Hosseini 219).
This further clarifies Hassan as a Christ figure in how he is killed for being accused of a crime under false pretenses. Hosseini uses this character to get his themes across to the reader, which are loyalty, the idea of giving second chances and being able to forgive. After Amir commits his cowardly act of leaving Hassan in the alleyway, he goes one step further by doing what he thinks is the solution to his tense relationship with Hassan.
In the movie adaptation of the novel directed by Marc Forster, Amir carries out his solution when he explains, “I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it,” and confesses that, “[I did] what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies. ” By making it look like Hassan stole Amir’s belongings, Amir hoped his father would then dismiss Ali and Hassan of their servant positions. Amir exemplifies Hosseini’s theme of betrayal as he continues to commit all these appalling actions.
Amir’s betrayal captivates the reader and makes the theme even more powerful and realistic. When Hassan is asked if he stole from Amir, he lies and replies with a yes. To Amir’s demise, Baba forgives them, but Hassan respects Amir’s wish and convinces Baba that they have to leave. This dramatic scene is one of Hassan’s last acts of loyalty. Hassan epitomizes loyalty in how he makes a, “final sacrifice for [Amir]” by telling a lie and protecting Amir’s already uneasy relationship with his father (Hosseini 105).
Amir admits,“I loved him in that moment, loved him more than I’d loved anyone,” and that Hassan was “rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time” (Hosseini 105). Hassan proves to be the perfect servant, friend, and rescuer even after all the horrible monstrosities Amir does to him. Somehow Hassan continues to forgive and be forever loyal to Amir. This scene shows a multitude of things and the biggest one is the full extent of Hassan’s loyalty and forgiveness. Hosseini uses this powerful not only to reveal the true characteristics of his characters, but to again reinforce his quintessential themes.
Hosseini’s dramatic story and themes has made such an impact that Attia Nasar in an online article titled “‘Kite Runner’ Expresses Loyalty to Friends and Family,” says that “This book and movie showed me the way that I should be in any relationship,” and that it, “taught me to give my self 110% to everyone. ” She concludes that, “Sure, you might get hurt, but it’s better than closing the rest of the world out. ” Hosseini has gone above and beyond his potential if he can actually compel readers like Attia Nasar to change their lifestyle in a positive way because of his powerful themes and characters.
Attia Nasar proves just how influential this novel is and how Hosseini is victorious in showing the importance of loyalty, redemption, and forgiveness. In this novel almost every character, major or minor, demonstrate themes of forgiveness, loyalty, and redemption. When Amir matures into an adult, he finds out that his own father, Baba, betrayed his best friend by sleeping with Ali’s wife. Baba represents both forgiveness and the search for redemption. For example, after Baba finds out about Hassan stealing Amir’s watch and money he forgives Hassan even after all the times he said, “There is no act more wretched than stealing” (Hosseini 106).
Baba’s kind-hearted treatment toward Hassan and Ali is his attempt at making amends for his betrayal that no one knows about. Amir betrays Hassan just as Baba betrayed Ali, and like Baba, Amir must suffer for what he did and pay retribution. Ali, Hassan’s father, is forgiving and forever grateful to Baba for taking care of him and his son. For instance, when Ali finds out about Amir’s framing of Hassan, he doesn’t speak up and respects Amir’s wish for them to leave. He too like his son, protects Amir’s relationship with Baba.
Both Amir and Hassan follow in their fathers’ footsteps and create almost a cycle of betrayal, loyalty and forgiveness. Another character who talks a lot about forgiveness is Baba’s business partner, Rahim Khan. He is the one that convinces Amir to “Come. There is a way to be good again” (Hosseini 192). He believes that God will forgive all who ask for forgiveness, but it is the people who have a hard time forgiving. Theses characters support Hosseini’s themes and make them even more poignant. Along with the themes presented in The Kite Runner comes a sort of voice of Afghanistan.
Edward Hower, in an online article titled “The Servant,” says “Hosseini gives us a vivid and engaging story that reminds us how long his people have been struggling to triumph over the forces of violence — forces that continue to threaten them even today. ” He is saying that the author not only tried to present the themes of redemption and forgiveness, but tell Americans and the world about the atrocities in Afghanistan. Robert Morace, in another online article titled “The Kite Runner,” explains how Hosseini used fiction in order to demonstrate a people “vying for the short attention span of and American public. By tying in real events in his country, Hosseini’s themes become even more powerful and appealing. Hosseini complements his themes with a multitude of evocative descriptions, sentiments and feelings through his literary style. The reader distinguishes some of these powerful elements through Amir’s dialogue. For example, in the beginning when Amir observes, “it’s wrong what they say about the past…Because the past claws its way out,” the reader catches a glimpse of Hosseini’s compelling style (Hosseini 1).
The author uses pathos to create an emotional experience for the reader, which is another factor that is used to help show redemption and forgiveness. This style makes his themes more riveting and realistic. Hosseini’s style helps define his overall message and engrosses the reader in his writing to make the story more believable. In the end when Amir rescues Sohrab from Assef, it is not enough to redeem him. When Amir finds out about his dad’s betrayal of Ali and Hassan, he understands that everything about his father was wrong.
Amir feels betrayed after finding out this information, but this still does not justify the betrayal of Hassan. Only after Amir takes Sohrab home to America and provide Hassan’s son with a chance at happiness does Amir take the necessary steps toward redemption. The author emphasizes exactly what it takes to redeem oneself through what Amir has to go through in the story. Hosseini is successful in showing the importance of forgiveness, loyalty, and redemption. Amir’s cowardly actions and mistakes in the past lead to his uest to atone for his sins, which he himself says that must be done in order to be good again. Hassan never forgets his friendship with Amir even after the betrayal in the alley and proves to be loyal to the end. Through these characters, the author demonstrates these quintessential themes. Word Count: 2151 Works Cited Forster, Marc. dir. The Kite Runner. DreamWorks, 2007. Film. Freedenberg, Harvey. “The Kite Runner. ”bookreporter. The Book Report, n. d.. Web. 14 February 2010. Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: Riverhead Books, 2003. Print. Hower, Edward. “ The Servant. ” nytimes.
The New York Times, 3 August 2003. Web. 14 February 2010. Miller, Erin. “Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. ” bestsellers. about. New York Times Company, n. d. Web. 14 February 2010. Morace, Robert. “ The Kite Runner. ” Magill’s Literary Annual 2004: Literary Reference Center. EBSCO, n. d.. Web. 4 February 2010. Nasar, Attia. “‘Kite Runner’ Expresses Loyalty to Friends and Family. ” uctangerine. n. p.. 6 March 2008. Web. 18 March 2010. O’Rourke, Meghan. “ The Kite Runner: Do I really have to read it? ” Slate. Washington Post. Newsweek Interactive Co, 25 July 2005. Web. 14 February 2010.