Amir resents his choice to be a coward when Hassan is raped. His guilt is immediate and it gnaws at him. A few days after Hassan was assaulted, Amir already feels guilt and resentment inside him. “’I [Amir] watched Hassan get raped,’ I said to no one…A part of me was hoping someone would wake up and hear, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore…I understood the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it.” (Hosseini 86). While Amir is lying in the dark, with nothing but his own thoughts, he feels that his guilt is taking over his life. He realizes that he is going to get away with his betrayal and yet he feels terrible. He decides that the only way he is going to live with his remorse is to ignore Hassan, blot him out, so he does not have to think about his sin. Amir’s guilt is so great that he cannot bear to have Hassan under the same roof, so he commits another sin. He lies to his father and accuses Hassan of stealing. “…I took a couple of the envelopes of cash from the pile of gifts and my watch, and tiptoed out…I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it…I knocked on Baba’s door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies.” (104). Amir needs to get Hassan out of his sight. The only way of doing so is to make it look like Hassan has committed a sin and stolen Amir’s property. Ali and Hassan cannot live in Baba’s house anymore with the thought that Hassan had been accused of stealing something from his master, so they decide to leave. Finally, Amir believes he can start his life over and not worry about the sin he committed against Hassan. However, Amir’s burden does not get lighter. Later on in his life he has a dream about Hassan’s death. “His [Hassan’s] hands are tied behind him with roughly woven rope…He is kneeling on the street…He lifts his face. I [Amir] see a faint scar above his upper lip…I see the barrel first. Then the man standing behind him. He is tall, dressed in a herringbone vest and a black turban…The rifle roars with a deafening crack. I follow the barrel on its upward arc…I am the man in the herringbone vest.” (240). Amir doesn’t get over his guilt simply because Hassan is out of his house. His sin still haunts him in his adult years. In fact, his guilt becomes so great that he feels he was actually responsible for Hassan’s death.
After reading the novel and studying Amir’s guilt due to his betrayal of Hassan, the reader sees that guilt can worsen over time and can have a major impact in the decisions one makes. Guilt is a prevailing emotion that has the power to destroy one’s life if one does not confess his sins and ask for forgiveness. One’s life is defined by the emotions they portray. If one’s emotions are guilt and remorse, the decisions one makes in his/her life will be greatly impacted.
Amir realizes that because he was able to get away with his sin, he needs to find some way of being punished for it. Only then will he feel redeemed. He wants so desperately to be rid of his burden. He even tries to get Hassan to throw pomegranates at him to give him the punishment he feels he deserves. “’Hit me back!’ I spat…I wished he would. I wished he’d give me the punishment I craved, so maybe I’d finally sleep at night. Maybe then things could return to how they used to be between us.” (92). Amir is so consumed by his guilt that he is not able to sleep at night. He so desperately needs to be punished for his sin, so that he and Hassan can be friends again. Since Hassan will not give him this punishment, Amir decides that he needs to forget about his sin since there seems to be nothing more he can do about it. A while later, he and Baba move to America because of the war in Afghanistan. It is a way that they can start their lives over. “For me, America was a place to bury my memories.” (129). Amir is still trying to forget about Hassan and his life in Afghanistan. He attempts to rid himself of his burden of guilt that he still carries. It is not until several years later that Amir finds a way to redeem himself of his sin. “There is a way to be good again, he’d said. A way to end the cycle. With a little boy. An orphan. Hassan’s son. Somewhere in Kabul…Hassan had loved me once, loved me in a way that no one ever had or ever would again. He was gone now, but a little part of him lived on…Waiting.” (226-227). Amir knows that he needs to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab, to atone for his sin. He knows that he needs to risk his life for Hassan’s son and be the person that Hassan had always been to Amir. Amir is finally able to make a good decision; a decision that would change his character and his life.
By exploring Amir’s need for atonement, one learns that finding redemption and being forgiven can allow one to finally have freedom from one’s sins and feel better about oneself. We realize that personal sacrifice, no matter at what cost, has a lasting reward. Sharing burdens and helping others gives one a feeling of worth. That feeling of redemption allows one to forget about the past and look towards a brighter future.
Amir’s sense of guilt and critical need for redemption were a constant part of his life when he was younger, and clung to him throughout adulthood. He knew soon after he betrayed Hassan that it would change their relationship forever. He willingly gives up a friendship to release himself, so he thought, from guilt. However, living with this gnawing sin of betrayal for so many years, Amir finally finds a way to redeem himself even though the one he betrayed is no longer living. The matter of Amir’s guilt and the redemption he finds later on is an interesting and very important topic to explore. The reader learns about the power of guilt, and how it can take over one’s life if one does not seek atonement. The reader also learns of redemption, and how free one feels after finally finding deliverance from a sin committed so many years ago. One appreciates what Amir did to find redemption, but also realizes that simply having the courage to stand up for Hassan earlier would have changed everything. Despite his lack of action in the beginning, Amir makes a decision that changes his life, as well as the life of Sohrab, and he finally feels he is the son his father always wanted him to be.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: The Berkeley Group, 2005.
Kite Runner: Guilt as MotivationGet Your
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In the novel, The Kite Runner, the author Khaled Hosseini depicts guilt and perseverance as the motivation for an individual to seek redemption and attain the satisfaction of self-fulfillment. Hosseini characterizes Baba as a wealthy, well-respected businessman who shows skepticism towards religious fundamentalism and follows his own moral code. Although, being rebellious to ones religion is looked down by society, Baba is still well respected because he acts with self-assurance and audacity. One can almost see these qualities radiating outward from Baba.
He tries to convey these qualities to Amir, his son. He explains to Amir that “no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth…. There is no act more wretched than stealing. ” Ironically, Baba life is far more complex than it appears to others. He has broken many of his own moral codes which explains many of Baba’s actions. One of Baba’s unrighteous and deceitful secrets was that he had an affair with the wife of his servant, Ali.
To make life worse, she bore him a son, who looked Hazara. This act of adultery and even more with a Hazara would ruin Baba’s reputation. Baba also lives with the guilt of his actions and kept this information concealed to save his reputation. Baba’s guilt of having such an affair made him seek redemption for his ways. His guilt was his motivation for redemption and took this task by building an orphanage. He is even willing to risk his life for what he believes in. Yet his shame at having a child with a Hazara woman leads him to hide the fact that Hassan is his son.
Because he cannot love Hassan openly, he is somewhat distant toward Amir. By the end of Baba’s life he had not successfully attained the satisfaction of self fulfillment because he has separated himself from one of his sons and was a poor moral support to the other. Amir is the protagonist and the narrator of the novel. He was characterized as a sensitive and intelligent son of an upper class business man. Although he grows up with a sense of entitlement, he feels deprived of his emotional connection with Baba, which he blames on himself.
Amir believes that Baba wishes he should be more like Baba, and that Baba holds him responsible for killing his mother, who died during childbirth. As a result, Amir reveals jealously toward anyone receiving Baba’s affection, which was mainly Hassan. In the beginning of the novel, Amir’s desire was to receive affection from his father, which results in his motivation to please his father. It is also the main reason Amir allows Hassan to be raped: “Nothing [is] free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price [Amir] had to pay, the lamb [he] had to slay, to win Baba. From this point forward, Amir’s is being living with a guilty conscience and he is motivated by his feelings of guilt as he searches to find a way to redeem himself. This redemption came in the image of a child, Hassan’s son, Sohrab. Although Amir is hesitant to go and save Sohrab, Amir is motivated now “to atone not just for [his] sins but for Baba’s too. ” Amir knows that he can only attain the satisfaction of self fulfillment if he cleans his guilty conscience from his past.
Author: Brandon Johnson
Kite Runner: Guilt as Motivation
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