Character Analysis of Amir in the Kite Runner Essay

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Kite Runner: Character Analysis of Amir

The author Khaled Hosseni wrote and published the book, The Kite Runner, in the year 2003 (Miles 207-209). It was during the year 2005 that the book became a bestseller in the United States. It was made into a movie by the year 2007, however it is considered a very challenged book. It faces many issues regarding the Afghan culture. Yet, in some way the controversies which lie in the novel obscured the book's accomplishments. After two years of publication, Hosseni's book made it to # 3 on the New York Time's Bestseller List; this is very impressive seeing as it was written in English, which is Hosseni's second language (Miles 207-209). The Kite Runner offers its readers a complex look into political history through an individual tale of friendship, betrayal and jealousy. This book also gives an insight into immigrant communities in the United States; it gives a closer look at what it means to be away from your homeland (Aubry and Timothy 25-43). This personal story about a boy and Afghan friendship is not only a way to open up about contemporary Afghanistan. It parallels to the nation of America as a whole (Miles 207-209). While other stories which may lie in the genre of coming-of-age end in adolescence or early adulthood, we see the main character of this story until his middle age. This brings a question to the genre of the book, however it is clear that it is a story about redemption and atonement, therefore it can be justified as a coming-of-age story; our protagonist just took a while to get there (Miles 207-209). Amir is a very complex character; he is seen in three dimensions: the selfish and confused boy in Afghanistan, the regretful and guilty man in America, and the fully grown man who is finally doing some good returning to Afghanistan.

Amir is the narrator as well as the protagonist of the novel and is a Pashtun and Sunni Muslim (Shamel 181-186). Although not a completely sympathetic character, Amir is one for whom most readers feel compassion. His father, Baba, is rich by Afghan standards, and as a result, Amir grows up accustomed to having what he wants. The only thing he feels deprived of is a deep emotional connection with Baba, which he blames on himself. He thinks Baba wishes Amir were more like him, and that Baba holds him responsible for killing his mother, who died during his birth (Al-Saudeary 233-249). Amir, consequently, behaves jealously toward anyone receiving Baba's affection. His relationship with Hassan only exacerbates this. Though Hassan is Amir's best friend, Amir feels that Hassan, a Hazara servant, is beneath him. Even though the book describes the two as very close friends, Amir is seen stating "The curious thing was, I never thought of Hassan and me as friends," (qtd. Hosseni, 4.4). He knew that Hassan would never say no to him, and throughout the book, Hassan is seen as a doormat that did everything for Amir. This is where Amir's selfishness resonates, yet we understand throughout the book that he was just a confused boy. When Hassan receives Baba's attention, Amir tries to assert himself by passive-aggressively attacking Hassan. He mocks Hassan's ignorance, for instance, or plays tricks on him. At the same time, Amir never learns to assert himself against anyone else because Hassan always defends him. "Hassan never denied me anything. And he was deadly with his slingshot. Hassan's father, Ali, used to catch us and get mad… 'Yes, Father,' Hassan would mumble, looking down at his feet. But he never told one me." (Hosseni, 2.2-3). Hassan was very loyal to Amir, and Amir knew it. He took advantage of it, yet let his jealousy play out throughout this time in the novel. All of these factors play into his cowardice in sacrificing Hassan, his only competition for Baba's love, in order to get the blue kite, which he thinks will bring him Baba's approval.

The defining point of Amir's character was probably the rape in the alleyway, where he witnessed Hassan being thrown to the ground by three thugs and raped by Assaf. This was right after Amir's victory, when Hassan was retrieving the kite for him as a jewel of success which he can show to his father. The change in Amir's character we see in the novel centers on his growth from a selfish child to a selfless adult (Shamel 181-186). After allowing Hassan to be raped, Amir is not any happier. He handled his guilt in a very cruel manner as a child, and this intensifies his character at the beginning of the novel as being a coward. Instead of telling Baba about the rape in the alleyway or even confessing to Hassan that he had witnessed the rape. His anger showed when the boys went to a pomegranate tree; this tree was supposedly to represent the boys' friendship where it was said to be inscribed on the trunk "Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul." However, this time, in the heartbreaking section of the novel, when they returned to the tree after the rape, things are seen as not the same between the two. Amir tortures Hassan, pelting him with fruit; this was because Amir was frustrated that Hassan would not fight back, even when he was being raped. He wanted Hassan to get mad at him, to blame him for the rape, just as he blamed himself. Amir decides to drive Hassan and Ali away by plotting against and framing Hassan in making it look like he had stolen some money and a watch. Although, Hassan being a good and loyal friend said that he did do it. At this point, we do not understand the character of Amir, and conclude that he is just a spoilt brat who did not know how to handle his emotions. On the contrary, his guilt is relentless, and he recognizes his selfishness cost him his happiness rather than increasing it. Once Amir has married and established a career, only two things prevent his complete happiness: his guilt and his inability to have a child with Soraya (Al-Saudeary 233-249). Sohrab, who acts as a substitute for Hassan to Amir, actually becomes a solution to both problems. Amir describes Sohrab as looking like a sacrificial lamb during his confrontation with Assef, but it is actually himself that Amir courageously sacrifices (Shamel 181-186). In doing this, as Hassan once did for him, Amir redeems himself, which is why he feels relief even as Assef beats him. Amir also comes to see Sohrab as a substitute for the child he and Soraya cannot have, and as a self-sacrificing father figure to Sohrab, Amir assumes the roles of Baba and Hassan.

Amir took both a step forward and a step backward in time when he returned to Kabul. His time in America had distanced himself from the atrocities of war in Afghanistan (Al-Saudeary 233-249). It was when he went back to Kabul that Amir had finally begun doing some good in his life. After a struggle and some more confusion, Amir agrees to rescue Sohrab. This is when Amir's world is seen reconstructed and where redemption was made possible; at least in the views of the novel. This suggests that one can atone for his sins, and Amir was definitely a repentant man by the end of the novel. The book, I believe can be read as an allegory, and the character of Amir can be summed up to be compared to the nations of the world (Jefferess 389-400). This again, brings us back to the rape scene. In the chapters leading up to the rape scene, the Soviet Union invades Afghanistan. Also, Assaf, who raped Hassan has a German mother, to make the allegory tidy, we can pretend that Assef's mother is a Soviet, and Assef represents the Soviet Union who invaded Afghanistan who is represented by Hassan (Jefferess 389-400). Therefore, Afghanistan was raped by the Soviet, while Amir watched. Amir, who later became a U.S. citizen, represents the rest of the world or the Western Community, who stood by and watched as Afghanistan went through this time of struggle (Jefferess 389-400). Therefore, in order for Amir, or the rest of the West to redeem themselves from their failures to protect Hassan, or Afghanistan, Amir had to go back and get proactive on the issue, even if he was years late.

Amir is a very complicated character; he shows many dimensions and very mixed feelings. This could be because he himself is confused. The title of the book brings a big question to mind: why is it called "The Kite Runner" and not "The Kite Fighter"? In the book, this was Amir's way of gaining his father's love; kite fighting. It was because Amir felt as if his father did not love him as much as his father loves Hassan; this was because Baba did not understand why Amir did…[continue]

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