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Many individuals often feel guilty for a choice they
make in life. This guilt that exists in one’s self, can have a tremendous
impact on their entire life. Guilt has the incredible power to change an
individual’s perspective and cause them to make irrational decisions. 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 finds himself guilty of
having failed to fight a boy who raped his friend. One of the main themes
Hosseini emphasizes in the novel, is the powerful affect of guilt on one’s self.
Throughout the novel, different characters such as Amir, Sanubar and Baba found
themselves guilty at one point in the novel for making a choice they considered
to be wrong. The guilt expressed by these characters affected their future decisions
and the entirety of the plot.  The Kite
Runner demonstrates that guilt can have an immense effect on one’s actions,
thoughts and decisions.

 

The Kite Runner demonstrates the theme of guilt
through the main character, Amir. In the case of Amir, one decision affected
his actions for the rest of his life. In the beginning of the story, Amir
observes his close friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boy named
Aseef.  Amir was hesitant between making
the decision of running away or intervening. “In the end, (he) chose to run” (pg.32)
and not stand up for Hassan. Amir’s guilt developed from the moment he decided
to run away from the alley. However, the hidden message Hosseni implies
throughout the novel, is misplaced guilt, as even if Amir intervened and stood
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.  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 the
guilt that existed within Amir after seeing what happened to Hassan. Throughout
the text, Amir finds himself seeking opportunities to redeem himself for his descsion
of not intervening in the situation when Hassan was getting bullied. An example
is when Amir tries throwing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt to get Hassan
to fight back and punish Amir. However, Hassan refused to throw any pomegranates
at Amir. 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
punished due to Amir’s apparent mistake. The guilt carried on with Amir into
his adulthood as he embarked on different journeys to seek redemption for the
one decision he made as a kid. An example is when Amir travels to Afghanistan
to rescue Hassan’s orphaned son from the harsh circumstances he was forced to
face in Kabul. This is one example of many of how Amir attempts to pursue
different opportunities to free himself of his own guilt for the decision he
made 20 years ago. Amir’s guilt plagued his entire life and many of his future
actions which revolved around his guilt from one decision.

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Another character in Hosseini’s Kite Runner that
demonstrates the effect of guilt on one’s self is Baba. Similar to Amir, Baba’s
own sense of guilt affects many of his decisions. Contrary to his actions in
the novel, Baba believed that lying was an extremely bad act, as Baba stated on
page.223 “when someone lied, they stole away someone’s right to the truth.”  However, as the novel progressed, Baba is
forced to lie to many other characters such as Amir and Hassan. Near the
conclusion of the novel, the reader realizes that Amir is Hassan’s half brother
and that Hassan is Baba’s biological father. However, Baba never reveals that information
to neither Amir nor Hassan, but instead keeps it as a secret to himself, committing
the only sin that mattered to Baba. Baba’s guilt caused him to forcibly act
ashamed of Amir for absolutely nothing. On page 19 Baba stated, “there’s always
something missing with my son.” This quote indicates that Baba always felt something
wrong with Amir and thus was always critical of Amir. Baba’s guilt for not being
a good father to his biological son, Hassan, led him to give preferential treatment
for Hassan while still having the appearance as a man with one son. Baba didn’t
want to feel the remorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimate
son, Hassan. There are many examples in the text that demonstate how Baba’s guilt
forces him towards lying to his legitimate son. An example from the text is during
chapter 8, when Hassan steals Amir’s birthday money and Baba commits the one
sin that mattered to him, by forgiving Hassan.  Baba’s guilt of lying to his illegitimate son,
Amir, and hiding the truth from his legitimate son, Hassan, forced him to
commit the only sin that mattered to him, demonstrating guilt’s impact on one’s
self.

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