external image kiterunner.jpg
The Kite Runner’s redemption
The story The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, is a story about a boy in Afghanistan who must enter manhood during a time of crisis. Plagued by misfortune, the narrator, Amir, is filled with guilt about the choices he made as a boy, and attempts to right his wrongs. But there is more to the story than what lies at the surface. As the author brings us deep into the mind of the narrator, we see his struggles both in early boyhood as he tries to earn his father’s love, and later when he wrestles with his conscience. Through telling this story, Khaled Hosseini suggests that wrongful deeds demand redemption, and to fail to do so will only result in prolonged hardship.
In this story, it is the narrator who seeks redemption. After a kite flying tournament, Amir’s best friend and half brother Hassan runs off to catch the second place kite as it falls from the sky. This trophy, Amir believes, will earn him his father’s love, and so Hassan has offered to run down this kite for him. However, after he has acquired the kite, Hassan is cornered by three boys who demand that he surrender the kite. In loyalty to Amir, he stands his ground, saying “Amir agha won the tournament and I ran this kite for him. I ran it fairly. This is his kite” (Hosseini 72). The three assailants then proceed to rape Hassan for his defiance, and leave the kite as a reminder. Meanwhile, while Amir had ran after Hassan to find him, he witnessed all this unfold. Yet even after Hassan expressed his loyalty, Amir just hid, refused even to watch, as his best friend was raped: "I bit on my fist. Shut my eyes" (73). After this betrayal, Amir never speaks of it to anyone. Though it burdens him, he cannot bring himself to tell anyone: “’I watched Hassan get raped’ [Amir] 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. But no one woke up” (86). This incident marks the beginning of Amir’s search for redemption, as well as the beginning of a series of unfortunate events as this redemption remains unfulfilled.
A few years after the event, Amir and his father traveled to America to flee war ravaged Afghanistan. Though it is a struggle to adjust to the culture, Amir successfully graduates from high school. To celebrate, Amir's father buys him a car. However this prosperity is dampened when Amir's father says "I wish Hassan had been with us today"(133) This innocent remark triggers feelings of guilt and remorse in Amir: "A pair of steel hands closed around my windpipe at the sound of Hassan's name. I rolled down the window. Waited for the steel hands to loosen their grip" (134). Amir's reaction to the memory of Hassan reveals his prolonged hardship due to his feelings of guilt. Because he has done nothing to amend to wrong he committed, he cannot feel fulfilled.
though it could be argued that Amir experiences only few times of true hardship, and that the rest of the time he is free from guilt, this is disproven when he is finally redeemed. At the climax, when Amir must confront Hassan's assailant, he says "for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace" (289). This statement suggests that even though he may not have faced financial hardship, or marital hardship, he was faced with emotional hardship. This supports the message that it was this final act of redemption that ended the prolonged hardship that followed his wrongful deed, and granted him fulfillness.
Though there are many messages throughout the text, The Kite Runner is mainly a story about redemption. Starting with Amir's moment of weakness, the story develops as each hardship tests him further, until he if finally ready to face his past mistakes. Try as he may to avoid the confrontation, he knows that each hardship is somehow connected to this unresolved issue, and that he must earn his redemption.