Redemption in the Kite Runner Essay

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Redemption Runner

Journey, Memory, and Kinship: Paths to Sin and Redemption in Hosseini's the Kite Runner

Khaled Hosseini's the Kite Runner is a beautiful book at once for the simplicity of its storytelling and for the complexities of human life and perspective that it lays clear to the careful reader. The various characters and plot complexities weave in and out of each other in an elegant yet heart-rending and nakedly human manner that makes the desperations and desires of the protagonist Amir and those around him almost palpable. Yet for all of the complexity and detail of the story in its following of Amir as his life progresses form luxury in Afghanistan to near destitution in America to achieving success as a novelist, there is always the sense that only half of the story is being told. There is a second piece to Amir, a piece that resides in his past life in Afghanistan, and more specifically a piece of himself -- of his memory and of his guilt -- that lies with his friend Hassan.

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The novel's title is, at least initially and explicitly, a reference to Hassan, and the duty he performed for Amir in his kite flying endeavors. It is during a kite flying tournament that Amir is able to finally win his father's approval, which can itself be seen as a sign of redemption for the "sin" of having killed his mother in childbirth, but this is also the scene of the major sin of the novel, at least insofar as the story's trajectory is concerned. For refusing to relinquish the kite he has found for his beloved friend, Hassan is brutally raped by an older boy -- an act which Amir secretly witnesses and does nothing to prevent.

TOPIC: Essay on Redemption in the Kite Runner Assignment

This event triggers a diffidence between the boys that culminates in Amir's framing of Hassan in a successful attempt to have him removed from the house, and during the Soviet invasion Amir and his father flee, losing connections to Hassan. Throughout the rest of the novel, however, Amir's life is largely consumed with a search for redemption for his treatment of his friend, a fact which is seen both explicitly and implicitly throughout Hosseini's text. Other characters in the novel, too, appear to be on a path seeking some form of redemption for sins real or imagined. The very natures of sin, guilt, redemption, and forgiveness are all explored quite extensively in the novel, and ultimately the Hosseini asserts -- through the overall frame of the novel regarding Amir's journey and through the journeys of many of the more minor characters he encounters along the way -- that redemption, like sin itself, can only be measured in personal and individual terms.

Amir's Redemption

The facts of Amir's redemption are fairly evident in the basic plot of the novel, which concludes as Amir runs off to find the kite just sent off by Sohrab, Hassan's orphan son whom Amir has adopted. This clear role reversal is both an act of atonement and the act of a soul unburdened, with the kite flying itself representative of the innocence Amir retained in his youth. The fact that Sohrab met the same sexual fate as his father, and at the hands of the same individual, perhaps suggest another failure n Amir's part to act quickly enough, but the new life that he can build for his friend's son is clearly a form of redemption.

At the point when Amir is witnessing the beginnings of Hassan' rape, he recalls the ritual sacrifice of a sheep that he witnessed many times in Afghanistan and the similar look of resignation and acceptance in its eyes to that in Hassan's: "Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose" (Hosseini, 82). This passage can be interpreted in many ways, but it undoubtedly places Hassan in the same sacrificial position as the sheep, which suggests that his rape occurs for a higher purpose, possibly even to allow for Amir's redemption. Though this may initially appear a highly selfish view of the incident from Amir's perspective, when it is acknowledged that his narrating voice is witnessing the event from a great distance of time, it can be see as a simple reflection of the way Amir defines his life and his redemption.

Amir's memory of the sheep's sacrifice is only one of many instances in which the Afghani culture and experience is explored in the Kite Runner, and it is a highly telling one. Much of Amir's sense of guilt, as well as the process of achieving redemption, centers on his feelings of abandoning not only his friend but also his homeland. This abandonment began, in some ways, before he even left the country, when American movie stars and entertainments were worshipped by the Afghani boys (Caillouet, 31.) Amir -- and his father -- fled why their country was effectively raped by a series of invaders; this class of Afghanis was the imagined "monster in the lake" that "had grabbed Hassan [and Afghanistan] by the ankles, dragged him to the murky bottom. I was that monster" (Hosseini 86).

When Amir and Hassan were young, they carved their names into a flourishing pomegranate tree and imagined their lives as more powerful adults. In later years, the tree stopped bearing fruit. This is again indicative of Amir and his father's abandonment of the land, symbolized and epitomized in Amir's abandonment of Hassan. When it is revealed that Hass is actually Baba's son, as well, it becomes clear that this sin of abandonment runs even deeper than imagined, and in fact the Kite Runner can be read as a book of redemption by the son for the sins of the father (Noor, 148). Through this understanding of the novel, Amir's eventual adoption of Sohrab can be seen as more than a simple figurative redemption of Amir caring for his now-dead and gravely wronged friend's child, but in addition as the reuniting of a family and the correction of a generation-old grievous sin committed by Baba to his own unacknowledged son, the son he abandoned.

Other Journeys of Redemption

Several other characters in the novel can be viewed through their own redemptive paths. Even Rahim Khan, the generally benevolent friend of Baba's and secondary father0figure to Amir, bears some responsibility for Hasan's life and abandonment (having had knowledge all along of Hassan's true parentage). It is Khan that contacts Amir in an effort to get him to adopt Sohrab; he is seeking his own redemption for his failure to protect Hassan -- and Afghanistan -- from the ravages of first the Soviets and then the Taliban, which is the regime that eventually murdered Hassan during his protection of Baba's former mansion.

For Baba, it is less clear that redemption is possible. Amir and Rahim both identify personal sins and failures in Hassan's fall, and both directly and symbolically in Afghanistan's fall and in their inabilities -- or simple lack of effort -- to prevent either of these things from occurring. Baba, however, appears to feel no such remorse or guilt for any "sin;" his strong and decisive attitude keeps him moving ever-forward, blind to anything but the immediacy of the present even as he struggles to fit in and understand the American way of life. Sin must be personally identified and defined before a personal path to redemption can be identified, and Baba fails to take this first step. His cancer can be seen as a symbol of the essential self-destruction that such internalization of his own perspective on sin can bring, and of the nature of the hidden secret of Hassan's parentage that he ultimately takes to his grave. There can be no redemption for Baba because he has never personally acknowledged his sin, so it remains inside him and consumes him.

The fact that Baba cannot find redemption for himself lends additional credence to the reading of the Kite Runner as a tale of the son's redemption for the father's sins. Towards the end of the novel, Amir asserts, "I didn't want to sacrifice for Baba anymore. The last time I had done that, I had damned myself" (Hosseini, 378). Sacrificing for Baba meant, to a large degree, taking the easy way out while friends and country were decimated by forces that should have been opposed rather than essentially ignored. This reading even transfers some of Amir's sin directly to Baba, making his personal redemption even more an inter-generational affair.

Amir's wife Soraya can also be seen as symbolic of this concept of parental redemption. Her father had been a high ranking general in the Afghani military, like Baba, this general was effectively a member of thru ling elite in Afghanistan, and also like Baba he was very strong in his convictions and arrogant in his distribution of fairness an justice. It is doubtless that he was responsible, either directly or otherwise, for the destruction of many lives,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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