The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a contemporary novel based in the beautiful country of Afghanistan before and after the rise of the Taliban. The book tells a touching story of two best friends dealing with love and betrayal, friendship and redemption, good and evil, and the gray area in between. It shows Afghanistan’s culture and the radiant country before disaster struck.
The continuous amount of conflicts are intense; however, the conflict of man vs. self truly shines throughout the novel. Over the course of the story, the author reveals each character and their own internal conflicts in order to help the reader understand that everyone has their obstacles and overcome them in their own unique way. One of the main characters, Amir, deals with multiple internal conflicts throughout the story.
After witnessing the rape of his best friend Hassan and not defending him, he is unable to live with his actions and fights this internal conflict his whole life. Amir was conscious of his actions and the effects they had but did not know what to do to redeem himself, so he tries to bury his guilt instead. After the incident, Amir begins to avoid Hassan out of shame and embarrassment. When standing under their pomegranate tree, Amir tries to get Hassan to hit him with a pomegranate, in a desperate attempt to get Hassan to show some anger towards him so that he can assuage his guilt.
He says, “‘What would you do if I hit you with this?’ I said, tossing the fruit up and down… I hurled the pomegranate at him…I hit him with another pomegranate, in the shoulder this time. The juice splattered his face. ‘Hit me back! I spat. ‘Hit me back, goddamn you!’ 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” (Hosseini 92-93).
Hassan refuses to throw anything back at Amir, and eventually takes a pomegranate and crushes it against his own forehead, continuing to show respect to Amir even after he was betrayed by him. After Hassan’s horrific assault, Amir had not been able to move on which is clearly shown in the following scene: “…so maybe I’ll finally sleep at night,” thus hinting that he shows remorse for his actions. Although Amir stood there and didn’t do anything to stop the assault, he still shows guilt, shame, and regret for not defending Hassan.
After the assault the only thing Amir can think about is Hassan, he finds himself in a state of guilt where he regrets not helping Hassan in his time of need. He realizes that the choice he made to sacrifice Hassan’s innocence for the love of his father was a terrible mistake. That choice leads to unhappiness that cannot be returned and trauma that can not be unseen. To bury his pain Amir begins to ward off Hassan, he remarks, “I want you to stop harassing me. I want you to go away” (Hosseini 94). As a result of those words, Amir and Hassan’s relationship starts to drift apart and then leads to becoming almost non-existent. Amir is sorry for his actions but is never able to build up the courage to tell Hassan.
The magnitude of the effects of the situation is also shown when the event haunts him for the rest of his life especially when he moves into his adult life and goes on to get married. After his wife Soraya opens up to him about her past, he states, “I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with. I opened my mouth and almost told her how I’d betray Hassan, lied, driven him out, and destroyed a forty year relationship between Baba and Ali. But I didn’t. I suspected there were many ways in which Soraya Taheri was a better person than me. Courage was just one of them” (Hosseini 165).
After Soraya opens up to Amir the thought of telling her the truth crosses his mind but he quickly withdraws it. When he expresses, “I envied her…there were many ways Soraya Taheri was a better person than me Courage was just one of them” he knows he should let his past be known, but is too afraid what Soraya and what others around him would think of him. It is also clear Amir is aware of his actions and they still follow him. Guilt is clearly evident throughout Amir’s life; although, he tries to bury his pain, it always manages to crawl back up. Amir fights with many internal conflicts all his life and finally finds some comfort when he adopts Hassan’s son and brings him to America for a better life.
While Amir was struggling with his own problems so was his father Baba. Baba has kept a huge secret all his life and has lied to Amir and Hassan by not telling them they were half-siblings. Baba could never really love Hassan like he could love Amir but still tried to treat them equally like brothers. Because Baba couldn’t openly love Hassan he took it out on Amir and chose not to love him openly as well. Throughout the story, it is obvious that Baba treats Hassan more than just a servant and treats him as his own child. Baba admired Hassan and gave him such nice gifts, presenting him with the idea to rid him of his hair lip.
Amir explains, “Baba never missed Hassan’s birthday… ‘It’s an unusual present, I know,’ Baba said. ‘And probably not what you had in mind, but this present will last you forever’” (Hosseini 44-45). Baba never misses Hassan’s birthday and even after Hassan began denying the gifts Baba still continued to show his love. Baba’s love for Hassan is clearly shown in his actions and although Hassan doesn’t know it, Baba is doing his best at fatherhood. Baba’s love for Hassan is clearly shown on one of his birthdays when he presents Hassan with the gift of a lifetime.
To help ease the bullying Hassan gets for his lip, Baba offers a procedure to have it fixed. Baba wants to give Hassan something meaningful and that would last him a while not necessarily something materialistic. Baba’s internal conflict is also shown through his actions. Baba’s generosity was a form of redemption; he wanted others to feel good about him because he couldn’t feel good about himself. Baba made a strong attempt to be redeemed. He built an orphanage and donated to the poor. Amir explains, “When Baba ended his speech, people stood up and cheered. They clapped for a long time… I was so proud of Baba, of us” (Hosseini 15).
The attention Baba got from opening his orphanage helped ease the pain. Just like his son, Amir, he hid the pain but still lived his whole life trying to redeem his actions. Babas pain was also clear when he and Amir moved to America and while celebrating Amir’s graduation Baba expresses his thoughts: “I wish Hassan had been with us today” (Hosseini 133) showing he still cares and constantly thinks about Hassan. Both Baba and Amir buried their pain living their whole life with regrets. Just like Baba and Amir Hassan also was greatly struggling.
After the rape, Hassan changed for the worse. He begins to sleep more, he is quieter and does not interact with anyone: “For a week, I barely saw Hassan…He used to wait for me to sit at the breakfast table before he started the ironing-that way we could talk. Used to sing too, over the hissing of the iron, sang old Hazara songs about tulip fields. Now only the folded clothes greeted me. That, and breakfast I hardly finished anymore… ‘Lately it seems all he wants to do is sleep. He does his chores-I see to that-but then he just wants to crawl under his blanket…’” (Hosseini 80-81).
Hassan has clearly been traumatized by the assault and has changed drastically. He starts to get more and more distant from everyone and keeps to himself and it becomes obvious he is unable to cope with what he is going through. Although Hassan was betrayed by Amir he still continues to make sacrifices for him. When Amir plants a watch under Hassan’s mattress Hassan takes the blame as one last sacrifice for Amir: “This was Hassan’s final sacrifice for me. If he’d said no, Baba would have believed him because we all knew Hassan never lied. And if Baba believed him, then I’d be the accused; I would have to explain and I would be revealed for what I really was…He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, for the last time” (Hosseini 105).
Hassan continues to make sacrifices for Amir and continues to stay loyal even through all that amir has done to him. The amazing novel The Kite Runner portrays Afghanistan for the country it truly is, breaking the single-story many of us have about it. Many of the characters in the book fight their own internal problems, and each solves them in their own way, helping the reader understand that we are all human and we all go through rough times.