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The Kite Runner Essay

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Mariana Jimenez
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The Kite Runner Final Essay

It is normal for human beings to make mistakes that cause oneself to feel guilt, but what matters the most is how one fixes their mistakes that dictates what kind of person they truly are. In the book, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, it shows that the quest for redemption is the way to atone for guilt. The author uses the literary technique of symbolism to enhance the theme of feeling guilt and its quest for redemption throughout the book.

Amir has done many things that cause him to feel guilt that cause him to go on a quest for redemption. For example, in the beginning of the book, Amir says, “That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”(Khaled Hosseini, 1) This shows not only how Amir has been feeling guilt for the last twenty-six years but also how one as a reader can see how Amir finds redemption later in the book. Amir has clearly stated that he has tried to bury his past, his mistakes, but they eventually “claw” back out, forcing Amir to face his guilt and redeem himself. Also, later in the book Amir says “I flinched, like I’d been slapped… Then I understood: This was Hassan’s final sacrifice for me… And that led to another understanding: Hassan knew. He knew I’d seen everything in that alley, that I’d stood there and done nothing. He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time.”(105) This shows Amir’s guilt because when he describes the feeling of being slapped it shows that even though he had betrayed Hassan and Hassan knew about, Hassan still protected him. Any normal human being with feelings would have had to feel immense guilt at that moment if not before. Amir has already been feeling guilty for not being able to stand up for Hassan, for choosing to be a coward, and now he has another reason to feel guilty. Hassan accepted his fate and allowed him and his Ali be kicked out of the house, while Amir stood back and watched as he ruined the lives of two people.

Amir’s quest for redemption is anything but easy. For example, in the book Amir says, “In the end, I ran. I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me… I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price?”(77) This is a way Amir thinks he can redeem himself to Baba. Previously, we learned that Baba does not think much of Amir and we also learn that Amir even goes as far as to believe that Baba hates him. Amir thinks Baba hates him even a little because if he wasn’t born, Baba’s wife would still be alive, and so Amir blames himself for the death of his mom. So by winning the Kite Flying tournament and with the help of Hassan who ran the kite for him, he believes that Baba will finally think of him as his true son instead of a blundering liability. By winning, and sacrificing Hassan in the process, he thinks he can redeem himself to Baba. Lastly, Rahim Khan later in the book states, “Come. There is a way to be good again.”(192) Rahim Khan calls Amir because he knows what Amir did to Hassan all those years ago and now he knows of a way for Amir to be able to redeem himself. Hassan and his wife were killed, leaving their only son, Sohrab, alone and an orphan. Rahim Khan wants Amir to atone his sins by taking Sohrab away from Afghanistan so he can have a better life and by doing so he redeems himself to Hassan for what he did to him in the winter of 1975. Amir risks his life to save Sohrab, Amir encounters Assef, who happens to be the man who took Sohrab from the orphanage. Amir stood up to Assef, saying that he was going to take Sohrab with him, something he should have done years ago. Amir is able to escape and save Sohrab from not only future sexual abuse, but also from the war that is going on in Afghanistan.

The author uses various literary elements to enhance its reading, one of them includes symbolism. An example of symbolism in the book that represent one feeling guilt and their quest for redemption is the cleft lip. Hassan in the beginning of the book has a cleft lip and Ali is unable to pay for the surgery to fix it because of economical issues. In the end it is Baba who fixes it as a birthday present to Hassan, the only thing left is a faint scar in the middle of lip. During this situation, the cleft lip symbolizes Baba’s secret fatherly affection towards Hassan. Although later in the book, when Amir goes back to Kabul to rescue Sohrab, he re-encounters Assef who beats him up. In the end, Assef splits Amir’s lip with his brass knuckles. When Amir goes to the hospital and gets fixed, the only thing that is left of his injury is a faint scar in the middle of his lip. This symbolizes that Amir has redeemed himself by finally getting punished for what he did to Hassan in the winter of 1975 and that he is brave as well as able to stand up for someone else. Another example of symbolism are the kites. The kites in the beginning of the book symbolize Amir’s childhood and later his betrayal to Hassan. When Amir is in the fuel truck Amir remembers the days in which he was carefree and happy flying kites. After Hassan got rapes, when Amir thinks of kites, it becomes a reminder for him of his cowardice and guilt for not being able to stand up for Hassan. At the end of the book, kites symbolize something else. Amir is back in America with Sohrab who hasn’t smiled or talked in months, but when they are flying kites, Sohrab smiles. The kites then symbolize redemption because Amir finally atoned for his sins and it symbolized hope because with the faint smile Sohrab shows, it means that things can be good again.

Throughout the book guilt and redemption play a big part on the story, and the author enhances this by the use of symbolism. Amir has made many mistakes in his life as a child, but as he grows he is able to redeem himself and atone for his sins. He ruined the lives of two people because of guilt and later saves the life of another to redeem himself to Hassan and get rid of the guilt he had been carrying with him for twenty six years.

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