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The Theme of Guilt in the Kite Runner

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The Theme of Guilt in The Kite Runner

If you disguise or mask a sin or wrong doing, it denies the option of staying true to one’s self and the guilt will eventually set in. guilt is one of the many themes presented in the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Characters are challenged and struggle with the theme of guilt. Some take the guilt and convert it to make positive changes in their life to somewhat right the wrong they have done. Others keep the guilt to themselves, which prevent them from making a positive change. Both Amir and Baba lived with guilt for most of their lives, but when the opportunity came to make things right both Amir and Baba seized that opportunity. Sanaubar, who feels guilty that she was not a part of Hassan’s life differs to Amir who still grieves over his dead mother and does unreasonable things to gain the likings of his father. Following this further Rahim Khan feels guilty that he hid a secret from Amir about his past which compares to Amir who did the same thing to his wife Soraya.

The first two characters that use the feeling of guilt to motivate them to make positive choices in similar ways are Baba and Amir. The first character that will be examined first is Amir. “I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. That’s what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley to Hassan.” (Hosseini 82) Amir receives his guilt here at this moment. Amir has just witnessed Hassan being raped in the alley by Assef. Instead of jumping in and trying to help he ran from the alley and ultimately ran away from doing the right thing. Although the guilt of this event ate away at him for most of the book, he used the guilt as a way to make a positive choice in his life. “A way to end the cycle. With a little boy. An orphan. Hassan’s son. Somewhere in Kabul.” (Hosseini 239) this is an example of how Amir uses that guilt that he harvested inside of him to make a positive change in his life and the life of a young boy named Sohrab, who is Hassan’s son. Here is where he is convinced to go find Sohrab in Kabul even though going back to where he grew up wasn’t his best interest at heart, especially when the after math of war has made Kabul a place of poverty. He volunteered to take Sohrab out of the orphanage he was living in, to somewhere where Sohrab will be safe and live a better life. The second character that will be examined is Baba “He loved you both, but he could not love Hassan the way he longed to, openly, and as a father. So he took it out on you instead- Amir, the socially legitimate half, the half that represented the riches he had inherited and the sin-with-impunity privileges that came with them. When he was you, he saw himself. And his guilt.” (pg 316) Baba felt guilty that he could not father Hassan like he fathered Amir, and that he deprived Hassan of living a happy filled childhood. He even betrayed Ali, who he thought of as a brother, by sleeping with his wife and ultimately committed the one sin that he though in his opinion was the worst sin of all. Stealing. He stole the Ali’s wife which ruined the relationship between Sanaubar and the trust in which Ali had in him. “Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself.” (pg 316) Rahim Khan explains to Amir that Baba did good things as a way to reveal the remorse that he felt for his wrong doings. He starts to do good deed to lessen the weight at which lying to everyone had on him. We also see in the book that he tries to evolve Hassan in as many things as possible, trying to care for both boys as equally as possible, for example celebrating Hassan’s birthday every year and buying both Amir and Hassan something when they go shopping. Doing something to make him feel that he is caring for both of his sons, instead of just paying most of the attention on Amir. To summarize, both Baba and Amir lived with the guilt and remorse of their actions, but instead of ignoring it they decide to do something about it to heal the pain that is concealed inside of them.

The second set of two characters in which guilt motivates them in different ways are Sanaubar and Amir. While guilt prevents one from making a positive choice, it pushes the other to make positive choice. “You smiled coming out of me, did anyone ever tell you? And I wouldn’t even hold you. Allah forgive me, I wouldn’t even hold you.” Sanaubar explains her guilt here at this moment. She asks Allah for forgiveness because she abandoned Hassan for most of his life and worst of all would not even hold him when she gave birth to him. Sanaubar thought that she had failed at being a mother for her son, a mother who was supposed to love and support her children unconditionally. “She stood beaming under a dull grey sky, tears streaming down her cheeks, the needle-cold wind blowing her hair, and clutching the baby in her arm like she never wanted to let go. Not this time.” To make up for not being a mother-figure for Hassan, she helped Farzana, Hassan’s wife, give birth to her grandson. She held on to her grandson and embraced him, doing something she should have done when Hassan was born. She was there for Sohrab, and he adored her, both of them became really close, inseparable almost. She should buy him things, make him things, and spoil him with gifts wanting to make up for the time she had lost during Hassan’s childhood. She was happy that she got the chance to piece back together the relationship she should have had with Hassan, with his son Sohrab. “Because the truth of it was, I always felt like Baba hated me a little. And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn’t I? The least I could have done was to have had the decency to have turned out a little more like him. But I hadn’t turned out like him. Not at all.” Amir feels responsible for the death of his mother and taking someone who was very dear to Baba. Of course it was not his fault but he cannot help but feel guilty about it. He feels that Baba and his relationship is pretty separated because he is nothing like Baba when he was younger, his dad was very sportive and active, while amir was more kept to himself and loved to read books. These things push Amir to act irrational and inflict pain on others. “I’d change my mind and ask for a bigger and fancier kite, Baba would buy it for me- but then he’d buy it for Hassan too. Sometimes I wished he wouldn’t do that. Wished he’d let me be the favorite.” (Pg 54) We see that Amir will do anything in his power to gain the affection and attention that he hoped that his father would get from his father. Amir would always get jealous when Baba showed any interest towards Hassan. To get their relationship on better terms he decides that winning the kite fighting event will earn praises from his father if he brought him back the winning kite. This earning for his father’s attention lead him to sacrifice Hassan, a true friend, in the alley instead of sacrificing what he thought would be the key to Baba’s love, the blue kite. To summarize this paragraph, Sanaubar and Amir are similar and different in many ways. However it would seem that the differences between them outweigh the similarities of their actions.



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