Narration of the Character Amir

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Explore how Hosseini portrays the character of Baba and his relationship with Amir in the opening chapters of ‘The Kite Runner’ Throughout the opening chapters Hosseini allows the reader to see the character of Baba from many different perspectives. The first and most obvious example of this is through the narration of the character Amir. Amir tells the reader during his dream that he ‘can never tell Baba from the bear.’ This gives the impression that Baba is strong and rugged in appearance. It is important to note that Baba is the narrator’s father; due to the unconditional love we expect between father and son, Amir’s opinion may well be biased. Indirectly, one can make an opinion on Baba, and his relationship with Amir, through his speech and actions as described by Amir.

The reader is told that ‘Baba heaved a sigh of impatience.’ Hosseini also portrays the character of Baba through the dialogue of the character of Rahim Khan as he refers to Baba as “Mr. Hurricane.” The narrator often indirectly refers to, or quotes, the ‘people’ as they ‘urged him to stop his foolishness’ Each perspective has their own opinion which is what makes them so valuable when putting the character of Baba under study. Hosseini presents the character of Baba as having a great physical presence. The narrator tells the reader ‘My father was a force of nature, a towering Pashtun specimen with a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair as unruly as the man himself,’ The metaphor ‘My father was a force of nature’ suggests an essence of fear; the character of Baba is not to be reckoned with. The reader is presented with imagery of a storm at sea or a hurricane as the character of Rahim Khan Nicknames Baba. This could suggest an element of incomparable strength, recklessness and perhaps the tendency of storms and hurricanes to quickly become widespread could be suggestive of the large amount of people who he has influence over. Amir goes on to use the adjective ‘towering’ when describing Baba. As well as his literal height, the adjective also connotes vast amounts of wealth and power putting Baba at the top of a social ladder too. This is confirmed as the character of Amir refers to his father as a ‘Pashtun’, the wealthiest ethnic group within Afghanistan.

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The use of patterning, as well as the length of the sentence, when describing Baba’s physical traits could suggest an element of awe from the character of Amir. Hosseini continues to allow the reader to make an impression of the character Baba as he has Amir quote Rahim Khan: ‘a black glare that would “drop the devil to his knees begging for mercy,” Here one gets the impression that not only does Amir, the unreliable narrator, but Rahim Khan also believes that Baba is a force not to be reckoned with. The character of Baba leads a much westernised lifestyle; he is a successful tycoon who ‘built a wildly successful carpet-exporting business, two pharmacies, and a restaurant.’ One must note that he built his empire with the help of his business partner ‘Rahim Khan’ who one could argue Baba leans on for support, which is seen when Baba is concerned about Amir’s behaviour. The jealousy of the people tells the reader a lot about Baba’s success: ‘They told Baba that running a business wasn’t in his blood and he should study like his father.’ Through the envy and jealousy of the people one can see that Baba must have held some significance for people to go out of their way to insult him. When Baba refers to Muslim clerics as “those bearded idiots”, one begins to understand his disapproval of religion, in itself a very western idea. The adjective ‘those’ seems to have a hint of disapproval as he chooses to generalise. People often generalise in dialogue when they are angry or talking about a subject of some annoyance. The noun ‘idiots’ is extremely disrespectful considering the connotations of religion, such as charity and love, being so positive.

The character of Baba goes on to say, “I mean all of them. Piss on the beards of all those self-righteous monkeys.” The use of short simple sentencing suggests a terse attitude towards religion; it is clear he doesn’t like the subject and wants to be abrupt as possible. This is also the first time the reader sees Baba using taboo language. The plosive, dynamic verb ‘piss’ suggests hatred or anger to an extreme, and the ‘beards’ connote religion, the use of plosive shows the aggressive nature of his point. By referring to them as ‘monkeys’ the character of Baba could see the more eastern view of taking religion quite seriously as primitive or uncivilised. Hosseini has Baba adopt an unforgiving fatherly role. When Hosseini has Baba say “I mean to speak to you man to man. Do you think you can handle that for once?” the reader can see his patronising nature. The use of the verb ‘handle’ suggests that he has great doubt in his son, and is quite open about it; this is confirmed through the use of the dynamic verb ‘sting’ as Amir feels pained that his father thinks badly of him. The use of simple sentences could suggest that Baba believes his son is stupid.

The use of the interrogative question where one wouldn’t be needed if Baba held his son in high regards is also quite hurtful and suggests that Baba distrusts his son. The reader may infer from Amir’s response: “Yes, Baba jan,” I muttered, marvelling,’ that Baba does not give Amir enough attention, if any at all, as Amir ‘[marvels]’ at his father even though he is badly ‘[stung]’. Through the indirect discourse, ‘Real men didn’t read poetry – and God forbid they should ever write it!’ one can see Baba’s traditional view on raising a boy. The adjective ‘real’ could have been replaced with normal as that is what Baba ‘envisioned’. It is clear that the character of Baba is disappointed in his son although one could argue that the character of Baba may not take pride in his son because he is the last living memory of his wife and technically the birth of Amir was the cause of her death. In a sense the characters Amir and Baba are quite alike, both are obstinate each defying their father. Through the use of many different perspectives, Hosseini allows the reader to make a well-rounded judgement on the complex character of Baba and his relationships within the novel. It is important to note that each perspective is flawed.

Amir narrates in first person retrospective and therefor the reader can be swayed towards his opinion. The character of Baba only allows us to see what he himself lets us see, because there isn’t a third person omniscient narrative we do not know what he is thinking, we can only infer based on his actions. Rahim Khan is the best friend of the character, Baba and therefore will have a more positive opinion although he is the only person within the opening chapters that openly questions Baba. The ‘people’ are a vague group and their opinions are likely false or contradictory due to envy. Overall one can gather that Baba is successful, he also holds many western values; For example his tendency to drink (which is illegal in Afghanistan), and his views on religion. Although many of his ambitions are complete there is a void left by his wife that couldn’t be filled by his only son, he does not hide this from his son or his friends and is therefore quite open.

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