Guilt the moment he decided to run away

Guilt has the incredible power to
change an individual’s perspective and affect them for the rest of their life.
The Kite Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini, is a world-renowned novel
published in 2003 that tells the story of a young boy named Amir who grows up
with the guilt of having failed to fight the group of boys who raped his
closest friend. One of the main themes Hosseini emphasizes in the novel, is the
powerful affect of guilt on one’s self. Different characters such as Amir, Sanubar
and Baba use the guilt that exists in every one of them as a motive to their
actions to further develop the plot. Amir, the narrator of the novel, witnesses
his closest friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boy named Aseef and decides
not to intervene in the situation. This one decision plagued Amir with guilt
for the next thirty years of his life. This forces Amir to travel across two
countries in an attempt to hopefully seek redemption for the apparent mistake
he thought he made. This is an example of the impact guilt can have on one’s
actions.  The Kite Runner demonstrates
that the power and influence of guilt is often under looked; it has the ability
to completely change one’s actions and thoughts.


The Kite Runner demonstrates the theme
of guilt through the main character, Amir. The guilt that exists within Amir,
affects many of his decisions and actions in the future. In the beginning of
the story, Amir observes his close friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boy
named Aseef.  It was at this moment that
Amir had to decide whether to intervene the situation or run away. “In the end,
(he) chose to run” and not stand up for Hassan. Amir’s guilt developed from the
moment he decided to run away from the alley. Hassan had defended and protected
Amir for his entire life and the moment Hassan needed Amir the most, Amir left
him in the dust. However, the hidden message Hosseni implies throughout the
novel, is misplaced guilt as even if Amir was to intervene and stand up for
Hassan, he would stand no chance to the older boy, Aseef. As a result, Amir unnecessarily
feels guilty about what he did, without realizing that he wouldn’t have made a
difference in the first place, even if he was to stand up for Hassan.  This one decision left a stain on Amir for
the next thirty years. A quote on pg. 88 states “I wish someone would wake me
up, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore” This quote explains how
guilty Amir felt after seeing Hassan get raped as he desperately sought for
anyone to find out but didn’t chose to tell anyone the actual truth.  Another example from the text is when Amir
tries throwing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt to get Hassan to fight
back and punish Amir for choosing to leave Hassan. However, Hassan refused to
throw any pomegranates at Amir, but instead smashed one into his face. A quote
on pg.94 states “I wanted Hassan to fight me back for the way I failed him”
This quote indicates that Amir wanted Hassan to fight him back, so he could
have the “punishment he craved” (93) This demonstrates that Amir wanted to feel
the act of being punished for his wrongdoing, similar to how Hassan was
brutally raped due to Amir’s apparent mistake. Amir’s guilt forces him to
travel across two countries to seek redemption for the mistake he made. 15
years later, Amir’s guilt led him to make the hefty decision of returning to
Afghanistan “to be good again” (189) by rescuing Hassan’s orphaned son, Sohrab,
from the terrible conditions he was left to face in Kabul. Amir sees this as an
opportunity to redeem and free himself from his guilt for the one decision he
made 15 years ago. Many decisions that Amir makes throughout the Kite Runner,
revolve around his guilt from the one choice of not intervening in the
situation when Hassan was getting bullied

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Another character in Hosseini’s
Kite Runner that demonstrates the power of guilt is Baba. Similar to Amir, Baba
is not immune to the guilt afflicted on others as his own sense of guilt
affects many of the decisions he made throughout the novel. Baba’s believed
that when someone lied they “stole away someone’s right to the truth” (223). Contrary
to his beliefs, Baba’s guilt prompts many of his actions and forces him to lie
to others. Near the conclusion of the novel, it is disclosed that Amir was
Hassan’s half- brother and Baba was Hassan’s real biological father. Baba, as
he stated, “stole the truth” from his loved ones such as Amir and Hassan by
living with the guilt of hiding the truth from his legitimate son, lying to his
illegitimate son and committing, in Baba’s words, his only sin of lying.
Throughout the novel, Baba’s guilt caused him to act ashamed of Amir for
absolutely nothing as Baba stated, “there’s always something missing with my
son” (19). Baba always took out his guilt on Amir by constantly criticizing him
of his actions, as Baba tried to act as if the guilt was nonexistent, when in
reality he was ashamed of himself for lying. Baba’s guilt for not playing the
father role to Hassan, led him to do everything he could for Hassan while still
having the appearance as a man with one son. Baba always criticized Amir
because he wanted Amir to be the perfect son. Baba didn’t want to feel the
remorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan.
There are many instances in the book where Baba forgives Hassan for his
wrongdoing even though Hassan commits the one sin that mattered to Baba which
was lying.



Baba acted as if the guilt was
nonexistent, instead taking it out on Amir by criticizing the way Amir acted.
Baba’s guilt caused him to constantly act ashamed of Amir, when in all reality
he was ashamed of himself. Baba claimed that there was always “something
missing in Amir” (22). Baba wanted Amir to be the perfect son, so he didn’t
have to feel remorse for giving Amir the lavish life over his other son Hassan.
Baba’s guilt for not being able to be a father to Hassan led him to do
everything he could for Hassan while still keeping up appearances as a
respected man with only one son. When Hassan was accused of stealing Amir’s
birthday presents, even though he committed the only sin that mattered to Baba,
Baba forgave him. Baba’s guilt for not being a father to Hassan, led for him to
care deeply for Hassan and do anything and everything he could to keep Hassan
in his life. Amir always believed that his father was free of guilt, the
epitome of a human being, but that was not the case, not in the slightest.