Since he was twelve, Amir has been struggling with his sin against Hassan; the fact that he did not come to the rescue of his friend. Deep down Amir always feels like he should have done something and feels horrible because he had chosen not to. Due to his nagging guilt, Amir is not able to live a peaceful life. Amir has an overwhelming need to be punished, to be redeemed from his sin, so that he does not have to live with his remorse. Amir’s feeling of guilt and his vital need for redemption are always a part of his life as he is growing up.
Amir resents his choice to be a coward when Hassan is raped. His guilt is immediate and it gnaws at him. A few days after Hassan was assaulted, Amir already feels guilt and resentment inside him. “’I [Amir] watched Hassan get raped,’ I 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…I understood the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it.” (Hosseini 86). While Amir is lying in the dark, with nothing but his own thoughts, he feels that his guilt is taking over his life. He realizes that he is going to get away with his betrayal and yet he feels terrible. He decides that the only way he is going to live with his remorse is to ignore Hassan, blot him out, so he does not have to think about his sin. Amir’s guilt is so great that he cannot bear to have Hassan under the same roof, so he commits another sin. He lies to his father and accuses Hassan of stealing. “…I took a couple of the envelopes of cash from the pile of gifts and my watch, and tiptoed out…I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it…I knocked on Baba’s door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies.” (104). Amir needs to get Hassan out of his sight. The only way of doing so is to make it look like Hassan has committed a sin and stolen Amir’s property. Ali and Hassan cannot live in Baba’s house anymore with the thought that Hassan had been accused of stealing something from his master, so they decide to leave. Finally, Amir believes he can start his life over and not worry about the sin he committed against Hassan. However, Amir’s burden does not get lighter. Later on in his life he has a dream about Hassan’s death. “His [Hassan’s] hands are tied behind him with roughly woven rope…He is kneeling on the street…He lifts his face. I [Amir] see a faint scar above his upper lip…I see the barrel first. Then the man standing behind him. He is tall, dressed in a herringbone vest and a black turban…The rifle roars with a deafening crack. I follow the barrel on its upward arc…I am the man in the herringbone vest.” (240). Amir doesn’t get over his guilt simply because Hassan is out of his house. His sin still haunts him in his adult years. In fact, his guilt becomes so great that he feels he was actually responsible for Hassan’s death.
After reading the novel and studying Amir’s guilt due to his betrayal of Hassan, the reader sees that guilt can worsen over time and can have a major impact in the decisions one makes. Guilt is a prevailing emotion that has the power to destroy one’s life if one does not confess his sins and ask for forgiveness. One’s life is defined by the emotions they portray. If one’s emotions are guilt and remorse, the decisions one makes in his/her life will be greatly impacted.
Amir realizes that because he was able to get away with his sin, he needs to find some way of being punished for it. Only then will he feel redeemed. He wants so desperately to be rid of his burden. He even tries to get Hassan to throw pomegranates at him to give him the punishment he feels he deserves. “’Hit me back!’ I spat…I wished he would. I wished he’d give me the punishment I craved, so maybe I’d finally sleep at night. Maybe then things could return to how they used to be between us.” (92). Amir is so consumed by his guilt that he is not able to sleep at night. He so desperately needs to be punished for his sin, so that he and Hassan can be friends again. Since Hassan will not give him this punishment, Amir decides that he needs to forget about his sin since there seems to be nothing more he can do about it. A while later, he and Baba move to America because of the war in Afghanistan. It is a way that they can start their lives over. “For me, America was a place to bury my memories.” (129). Amir is still trying to forget about Hassan and his life in Afghanistan. He attempts to rid himself of his burden of guilt that he still carries. It is not until several years later that Amir finds a way to redeem himself of his sin. “There is a way to be good again, he’d said. A way to end the cycle. With a little boy. An orphan. Hassan’s son. Somewhere in Kabul…Hassan had loved me once, loved me in a way that no one ever had or ever would again. He was gone now, but a little part of him lived on…Waiting.” (226-227). Amir knows that he needs to rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab, to atone for his sin. He knows that he needs to risk his life for Hassan’s son and be the person that Hassan had always been to Amir. Amir is finally able to make a good decision; a decision that would change his character and his life.
By exploring Amir’s need for atonement, one learns that finding redemption and being forgiven can allow one to finally have freedom from one’s sins and feel better about oneself. We realize that personal sacrifice, no matter at what cost, has a lasting reward. Sharing burdens and helping others gives one a feeling of worth. That feeling of redemption allows one to forget about the past and look towards a brighter future.
Amir’s sense of guilt and critical need for redemption were a constant part of his life when he was younger, and clung to him throughout adulthood. He knew soon after he betrayed Hassan that it would change their relationship forever. He willingly gives up a friendship to release himself, so he thought, from guilt. However, living with this gnawing sin of betrayal for so many years, Amir finally finds a way to redeem himself even though the one he betrayed is no longer living. The matter of Amir’s guilt and the redemption he finds later on is an interesting and very important topic to explore. The reader learns about the power of guilt, and how it can take over one’s life if one does not seek atonement. The reader also learns of redemption, and how free one feels after finally finding deliverance from a sin committed so many years ago. One appreciates what Amir did to find redemption, but also realizes that simply having the courage to stand up for Hassan earlier would have changed everything. Despite his lack of action in the beginning, Amir makes a decision that changes his life, as well as the life of Sohrab, and he finally feels he is the son his father always wanted him to be.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York: The Berkeley Group, 2005.
What Role Does Religion Play in the Lives of Baba, Amir, and Assef, and in the Novel as a Whole?
The Kite Runner is a controversial narrative novel written by Khaled Hosseini – an author of the Afghan-American heritage. The story revolves around the life of Amir and is set throughout such events like the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan, the military intervention of the Soviet Union, mass departure of refugees to the U.S. and Pakistan, and the Taliban regime establishment. This narrative is known for its familial settings and clearly expressed father-son relationships, as well as for raising the themes of guilt, redemption and atonement. The story itself enables the reader to get a thorough insight into the daily life of the Afghani people and into their culture. Even though it is not the main theme of the novel, religion is always there, and its influence on the lives of the characters is vivid. Author approached the topic of religion from two sides – from the point of view of religious characters and from the point of view of those, who have their own understanding of religion, and, as a result, he was able to portray the process of Amir’s finding his own religion amongst these two sides.
Amir, who is as well a main protagonist, tells the entire story in The Kite Runner. The narration is set in such a ways that a reader starts to feel compassion towards Amir, but not because of his personality, but rather because of the events that he gets involved into. Therefore, one gets an insight of the importance of religion in the life of ordinary Afghani family first of all through the perception of Amir, and religion might seem to not be a major focus for him, but it is always present there. Since religion is an inalienable part of the Afghani culture, it is present in each aspect of the protagonist’s everyday life. Throughout the narrative, reader is able to see both positive and negative aspects of religion. In the story, the negative side of religion is expressed mainly through the fundamentalists who use religion beliefs as a tool to exert violence onto other people and to spread their control onto other people’s freedom (Hosseini, 2003).
The reader can also grasp the views towards religion from Baba – Amir’s father. He is a respected wealthy businessman. What is peculiar about him is that he is a freethinker, who always strives to do what is right and to think for oneself. What is more, Baba is not a supporter of the fundamentalism in the Islam religion, but he does have his own moral code that he follows throughout life and tries to raise Amir according to it. One of the first important episodes concerning religion in the lives of Amir and Baba is an occurrence when Ali, comes home from school and tells his father that he was taught that drinking alcohol is a sin. As a response, in order to teach Amir a lesson, his father pours himself a glass of whiskey (Hosseini, 2003). This scene is one of the many that contradistinguishes Baba and his views from the ones preached by mullah. Further, Baba tells his son “I see you’ve confused what you’re learning in school with actual education,” he then proceeds and calls the mullah and others like him ‘bearded idiots’, and tells Amir that it will be impossible for him to learn anything of value from them. Baba’s difference from the majority and his core attitude towards the fundamentalism in Islam is expressed in such a manner: “They do nothing but thumb their prayer beads and recite a book written in a tongue they don’t even understand,”… “God help us all if Afghanistan ever falls into their hands” (Hosseini, 2003). Afterwards, Baba tries to explain Amir that theft and all the variation that it has is the only real sin. Growing up with this kind of moral grounds, Amir gets confused and questions the existence of God. When the reader follows Amir through his childhood, it is possible for one to see that he was not a very religious child, but still he is able to develop a Muslim faith, yet with the solid moral grounds that his father had preached to him. Throughout his life, when Amir was in the need of comfort – after Baba’s CAT scan or when Sohrab tried to commit suicide – he turned to Allah, trying to find reassurance in the prayer (Hosseini, 2003).
It is impossible to detach the life of Amir’s family from the events happening in Afghanistan. Amir and his father were forced to leave the country and to immigrate to the U.S. There is no detailed description given by the narrator of the political events happening in Afghanistan, but the reader knows about the conflict that was continuing within the country after the Soviet troops left. When Amir narrates about the Taliban being in control of the country, the reader learns that the controlling group is using religion only for justifying the violence and authoritarianism (Hosseini, 2003). In the novel, there is Assef, a character who shows the reader the clear and vivid image of the Taliban. He was born into the Afghan-German family, and as the plot develops, it becomes clear that he possesses strong fundamentalist views on religion. It is obvious that Assef is the antagonist of the novel. Since childhood, he is portrayed to be a sociopath and a generally quarrelsome person. When he wanted to hurt Amir, he raped his closest friend Hassan, and he gave Amir Adolf Hitler’s biography as a birthday present. As he was growing up, his views on religion became stronger, even though they are usually contradicting with the main principles of Islam. Regardless of screening himself as a Muslim, Assef is a cruel racist, incapable of remorse, who is just using religion to justify his violent actions because he believes that the God is on his side (Hosseini, 2003).
The Kite Runner is a rather controversial literary piece that answers many questions, but rises even more. The reader follows the life of what might seem a typical Afghan family, but as the plot thickens, the things are more complicated than they seemed. Author raises many themes and religion, even though it is not clearly stated, is one of them. The reader can observe three views on religion – Baba’s free interpretation of what it really means to be a religious person; Amir’s confusion and ability to find his religion after all; and Assef’s radicalism that contrasts the religion as a whole.
Hosseini, K. (2003). The Kite Runner. Retrieved from http://www.bestlibrary.net/classics/The_Kite_Runner/
O’Rourke, M. (2005). Do I Really Have to Read The Kite Runner? Retrieved from
Wilson, C. (2005, April 19). ‘Kite Runner’ Catches the Wind. USA Today. Retrieved from
Khaled Hosseini, the author of the novel Kite Runner, shows his readers a gap between religion and morality and faith in his book. The protagonist Amir hesitates between the canon of Islam and the principles of his father Baba. This choice is a basis of his individuality and affects all his decisions. This Kite Runner essay is not only about influence of religion on a person’s life. The writer presents it as a powerful force that can change the destiny of the whole country together with its population. The essay includes strong argumentation that you may use for your own paper. Just don’t forget about citing!
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