The Kite Runner, for me, is a novel that drives my interests over the customs, traditions and the people of Afghanistan and away from its controversies. Although the novel can be over emotional and sometimes includes too many conversations, it was still able to give me with different points of views of different people. It was as if I were walking and traveling in the shoes of another man. I really enjoyed the novel and if I would recommend something to read, I won’t have second thoughts of sharing Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner.” This novel is indeed worth reading even if it was from a first time novelist. Khaled Hosseini was able to introduce a lot of social, cultural and moral themes or aspects in the novel that in a way intrigues and informs readers. Over the course of Khaled Hosseini’s novel “The Kite Runner”, Amir’s relationship with various other characters changes and shifts. One of these changes of relationship is the father and son relationship of Baba and Amir. Khaled Hosseini demonstrates how the son struggles to find his relationship with his father identify with his need for parental approval as one of the important themes in this novel. Baba and Amir both thought they were so different. However, through the novel, readers are able to see Baba and Amir were indeed father and son, for they not only share the same experiences, but were mostly alike with regards to their character, friendship, sins they have committed and the past that they have been running from or to the future that they have been moving towards.
In Amir’s childhood life, in despites what Baba lectures and teaches him, Amir committed many sins in hopes to get Baba’s approval. During Amir’s education in the fifth grade, he had a mullah, a religious teacher, who taught Amir in class about Islam. The mullah’s teaching included the sins of drinking alcohol and he told this to his father while Baba “was pouring himself a whiskey.”(16) Baba sat down and pulled Amir onto his lap and told him that he would never “learn anything of value from those bearded idiots.”(17) Baba then tells Amir that despite what the mullahs teach, “There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft… When you kill a man you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal the right to fairness…”(18) Every other sin is a variation of theft and he cautions Amir to never forget that. But as we can see Amir committed many sins in hopes to get Baba’s approval. Amir committed the sin of lying or keeping the truth, theft or stealing the right to fairness as according to his father, when he created ways to get rid of Hassan, Amir’s bestfriend and loyal servant who was found later to be his half-brother, with regards to his father’s attention, to strengthen their father and son relationship. During the trip where Baba took Amir for a picnic in Gargha that Amir had to lie. Baba wanted to take Hassan with them to the picnic but Amir considering him as a threat to their relationship, lied to Baba. Amir said “Hassan had the runs.”(13) Furthermore, Amir also lied when he asked his father if they can go to Jalalabad on Friday. Baba again wanted to bring Hassan with them but Amir said that “Hassan is mareez…”(13) or not feeling well. Amir also lied or kept the truth when he accused or framed Hassan of stealing. Amir took the watch, which his father gave him after winning the kite tournament, and a couple of envelopes of cash and placed them under Hassan’s mattress inside the mud hut when Hassan and Ali left to do shopping. Then after thirty minutes, he told Baba that “he saw some money and his watch which he reported to be missing the night before, under Hassan’s mattress.”(15) Amir even sacrificed Hassan at the kite tournament to win Baba: “maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lam I had to slay, to win Baba” (7) and Amir never told anyone of the truth of Hassan being raped for him. The sins Amir committed in order to get Baba’s approval ironically made him feel that he will never be able to become a man like his father.
Amir thought so greatly of his father, but he was blinded by the fact that his father, too, is a human, capable of mistakes. Amir thought that his father would never lie because he admired his father. He believed that his father is a very good man. When Baba built an orphanage for those who were homeless. Amir also gave Baba high regards with respect to his success or achievements in life. Even the mere holding of his father’s hat during his speech in the opening ceremony of the orphanage gave him the pride of being the son of a man who was given respect and appreciation by a lot of people. Amir thought highly of Baba that he believed that his father will never do anything wrong and his mistakes had made him grow weaker and further away from being like his father. But of course, Amir was wrong and that his father did commit sins of his own.
Baba, just like Amir committed the sin of lying by not telling the truth that Hassan is his son and that Hassan is Amir’s half-brother. Baba is truthfully the father of both Amir and Hassan. It was only Rahim Khan, Baba’s friend and business partner, who told Amir of the truth about his true relationship with Hassan much later in life, after Baba was dead. Rahim told that Hassan was also his father’s son in order to further bring Amir to his needs.(25) And Amir found it very hard to believe and accept the fact that Baba lied to him.”Why? What can you possibly say to me… I’ve just found out my whole life is one big lie…”(25) and [Amir] storms out of the apartment.” Rahim Khan’s testimony as you can see is the proof that Baba indeed committed the sin of lying. He was not the “perfect” man that Amir thought him to be. Moreover, we can see in Amir’s reaction, that he acted out in anger, in handling the truth he had heard now after fighting the guilt inside him and spending years in torment: “I became what I am today at the age of twelve… Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”(1)
It is true that Amir had been battling or did all his best to remove the guilt that he felt. Hassan and Amir had a very close friendship before the Hassan was raped, where he only stood watching and did nothing. He felt the guilt of not helping his friend and loyal servant. Before, he kept telling stories to Hassan but after the incident, he no longer told stories to Hassan. Amir would also keep himself busy reading and writing stories in his room rather than playing with Hassan. He even spent less time talking to Hassan, because the mere sight of Hassan further increases the guilt that Amir felt (92). When they moved to America, hearing news from about Hassan still stroke a guilt feeling inside him; “I thought about something Rahim said… there is a way to be good again.”(2)
Of course, like Amir, Baba was also being tormented by his own sins, of keeping the truth from Amir and Hassan. Rahim Khan was a witness and attested to this. “Your father, like you, was a tortured soul, Amir jan.”(301) Rahim Khan informed Amir regarding his father in order for him to understand the reason why his father seemed not to care for him as his son and why Baba was really nice to Hassan which cause Amir’s jelousy over Hassan and in return caused their father and son relationship to be unsuccessful; “He loved you both… that came with them.”(301)
Amir thought at first that he was not like his father because inside Amir’s mind, he believes that his father was capable of large tasks, also thinking that his father could wrestle a bear with his bare hands and that he was larger than life. Amir was envious of this. Baba was once told that he was not capable of establishing a business, or that business was not in his blood. Baba proved them wrong when he was able to successfully establish a carpet exporting business, two pharmacies and a restaurant. Furthermore, people also said that Baba will never be able to marry but again, Baba proved them wrong when he married Sofia Akrami who was highly-regarded and respected by the villagers of Kabul. During their escape to America, Baba helped a couple on the way, and even fought a Russian soldier who wanted to take the poor man’s wife. In to this, Rahim Khan referred to Amir’s father as “Toophan agha”(7) or “Mr. Hurricane”(7) and that his father, Baba, “was almost a force of nature” (7) because of the things that Baba did which his fellow villagers were unable to stop, like being the successful businessman and husband to a beautiful wife he is now. On the other hand, Amir thinks that he was different. Amir uttered “I ran because I was a coward… hurt”(77) as his explanation when he ran while Hassan was being raped. Even Baba thinks Amir will never become like him. “Fathering a son who… when he had been young.”(19-20) “But he’s [Amir] always buried in those books… I wasn’t like that”.(21) Baba sounded frustrated, almost angry. “I see how they push [Amir] around… drops his head…”(22) Furthermore, Baba said “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.”(22) We can see that Amir really has a big admiration and respect for his father and less for himself.
However, Baba was wrong. Amir was like his father, where the wrestling of the bear became a symbol when he fought his own battle. It was his mortal battle against Assef in the later parts of the novel where he had become the man his father was “Assef has total control of Amir and is ready to strike perhaps a mortal blow…”(28) Here we can see that just like his father was against a bear, he too had a battle with something, or someone like Assef as strong and brutal as a bear, where the odds are uneven. Amir, like his father when he fought the armed Russian soldier, was brave enough to face Assef and was successful. While Amir was lying down in the hospital Bed, Amir became Baba where he sees the bear roar and believed that “I [Amir] am wrestling the bear.”(295)
Furthermore, when it comes to the relationship with their friends or brothers during their childhood life, Amir and his father, Baba, are really alike. Baba grew up with Ali, a Hazara whose parents were killed while he was still young, when Baba’s father or Amir’s grandfather took custody of Ali. Even if both Baba and Ali grew together, Amir never recalled his father mentioning that Baba thought or referred to Ali as his friend. Baba even betrayed Ali by sleeping with Ali’s wife. Amir had done the same when he denied his relationship to Hassan, his friend and loyal servant during the time when they were confronted or approached for a fight by a psychopathic bully named Assef. “Assef asks Amir how he can call such a one as Hassan a friend and Amir almost blurts out that Hassan is not a friend, but a servant.” Amir also ran while Hassan was being raped fro him, telling himself that, “He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?”(77) We can see that in this aspect, Amir was indeed like his father, both of them denying their friend due to their higher social class or status in life and both betrayed their friend.
We can see that Amir and Baba are alike in that they are both trying to please, or gain the favor or appreciation of the other. Amir had sacrificed a lot in order to gain his father’s favor and appreciation because of the thought he had for his father. But if we would look closely to what his father, Baba, sacrificed for his son, we can see that they are alike in that they are both trying to please, or gain the favor or appreciation of the other. When they went to America, it was really a difficult adjustment for Baba. “You were happier there, Baba… did I?”(129-130) “I reached across… one last gift for Amir.”(130) Baba used to live in a mansion living a luxurious life unlike his new life in America. But Baba was willing to sacrifice for his own son which was a contrast to Amir’s belief that his father held him responsible for his mother’s death and that Baba sometimes does not think of Amir as his son at all. Baba once stated that “If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him put of my wife with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe that he is my son.”(23) Also, while Soraya was taking care of Baba, Baba ask her to read Amir’s diary, “I put her up to it. I hope you don’t mind.”(172), show’s that Baba was proud of Amir. “[Baba] got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too. Maybe even hating him a little.”(15) This was what Amir stated in considering or evaluating his father in the beginning. Later, Amir becomes like his father when he goes back to his homeland to save Hassan’s son from a miserable life.
All throughout the events of “The Kite Runner”, Amir thinks that he is in contrast with his father. He spends his entire life trying to be the son who will not disappoint his father and commits many sins in the hopes that his father will believe in him, embrace him, and tell him how proud of him he is. Baba and Amir both thought they were so different, but they are more alike than they both knew.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. The Best Notes.com, 2005.