The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a poignant tale of friendship, burden, and redemption. This whole book is mainly centered around one boy, whom after making a terrible mistake, must seek a way to gain forgiveness from himself and those he hurt.
We are introduced first to Amir, a young Afghan boy playing with his best friend, Hassan. They are extremely close and have known each other their entire lives.
In one telling scene in the beginning, Hassan and Amir are in a kite-cutting competition, and Amir states that while he’s always the one to cut other kites and compete to be the last one standing, Hassan always knows where to run in order to catch the last cut kite.
Hassan and his father are servants for Amir’s family, because as followers of a different Muslim sect than most–the Shi’a–they are discriminated against. Despite being in very different positions of power, both boys love each other like brothers, and Hassan even saves Amir from a group of Hitler-supporting bullies by firing a slingshot at them. All of this makes Amir’s eventual wrongdoing very painful to read.
The inciting incident occurs when after Hassan catches the last kite in the competition, the bullies gang up on him and begin to taunt him. Amir stands, hidden, and watches as they say increasingly worse things, until they rape him. Amir just hides, horrified, before running away while hoping Hassan didn’t see him there.
He is overcome a guilt that will follow him into his adult life, long after Hassan’s father takes his son away and long after he arrives in America. The rest is about Amir’s redemption as he learns that Hassan had a son before dying from the Taliban, which an old acquaintance of his asks for him to find safely.
In the end, Amir finally confronts and crushes his shame in an epic brawl between him and the leader of the fascist bullies.
One of the parts I enjoyed reading the most, and which impressed me the most, were the scenes written from young Amir’s perspective. Hosseini captured everything with amazing accuracy- the playfulness, the fun, and the immaturity and jealousy for his friend.
I loved seeing how as an adult, Amir carried the same tremendous guilt from childhood. It showed how greatly experiences from when we were younger affect our current selves, and how they guide many of our future actions.
Amir stayed in America for as long as he could, with a wife, a career, and putting Hassan out of his mind. But, when he is eventually asked to find Hassan’s son, Amir knows that he cannot betray his friend once again, which is what triggers his redemption.
Throughout the majority of the book, Amir is weighed down constantly by what he has done; many of his important life choices have been made with the mentality that he is a coward or that he is too terrible of a person. When his father is held at gunpoint for arguing against an unfair and perverted officer, Amir is mostly thinking about his own fear and hating himself for not being as strong as his father.
All of this is resolved when he goes back to Afghanistan and finds Hassan’s kid. He is held captive by the the bullies and is being molested under the watch. When the leader recognizes Amir from their childhood and challenges him to a fight for the kid, Amir knows that he cannot throw away his shot at fixing some of what he has done.
The brawl is nasty, intense, and personal. Now, Amir is standing up for Hassan, not running away. As he is tackled down and punched over and over, he finally feels relieved of the past thirty years of pain. When the fight is over and Amir brings Hassan’s son back to America, he has finally won redemption for himself.
The Kite Runner shows how even after many, many years, someone who feels like they can never get away from their past can turn around and defeat. It doesn’t have to be a physical fight, like with Amir, but confronting one’s inner demons and giving their all to change themselves is what can truly relieve them from what they have done.