The Kite Runner
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It’s never too late to Amend
There is famous saying that, “Life repeats following a circular path. That is why history repeats itself”. Circularity has a strong connection to the main theme in the novel- sin and atonement. This idea is portrayed throughout Khaled Hosseini’s first novel The Kite Runner. The novel takes place in Afghanistan where the main characters Amir and Hassan grow up. Through a beautiful yet devastating love story, Amir betrays the one person who has always been loyal to him; his best friend Hassan. Years after their separation Amir is given the chance to “become good again” from Rahim Khan who was an uncle-like figure in Amir’s life. Circularity, one of the key concepts in the novel, is used as a narrative technique by Hosseini. He uses circularity in his novel, by portraying Amir’s redemptions years after his betrayal of Hassan, through Wahid, Sohrab and Assef.
Amir is given an opportunity to atone for his sins in the middle of the novel, where Amir has returned to Afghanistan and is staying the night at Wahid’s house. In the beginning of the novel, after Hassan’s tragedy, Amir and Hassan’s relationship fell apart. No longer did Amir and Hassan speak to each other. In fact both boys avoided confrontation with each other altogether. With their relationship falling further apart Amir decides to frame Hassan with stealing some of his birthday presents. Amir states, “I went down stairs, crossed the yard, and entered Ali and Hassan’s living quarters by the loquat tree. I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it” (104).
By doing this Amir is betraying Hassan by framing him for theft in hope that Baba will get angry with Hassan and stop including Hassan when he takes Amir places. Baba thinks that theft is the one unforgivable sin that a person can make. So when Baba forgives Hassan, Amir is beside himself. Amir doesn’t understand how Baba forgive Hassan who has just committed the worst sin, yet not forgive him for not being the son he always wanted. After this incident Hassan and his father Ali move out of Baba’s house and Baba and Amir move to the United States. Nearly 25 years after Amir’s betrayal to Hassan, Amir returns to Afghanistan to visit Rahim Khan who tells Amir there is a way to become good again. This is when Hosseini uses circularity to exemplify how Amir had once betrayed Hassan through one act and then again commits the same act only this time he does it to atone for his sin. Once Amir returns to Afghanistan and visits Rahim Khan he finds out that he needs to go and save Hassan’s son, Sohrab. Amir learns that Hassan was murdered by the Taliban and his son was in danger. Rahim Khan sets up Amir with a friend Farid to guide Amir to Sohrab.
While traveling from Jalalabad to Kabul Amir and Farid stay the night at Farid’s brother Wahid’s house. After staying the night Amir decides to thank Wahid and his family for their hospitality. Amir says, “Earlier that morning, when I was certain no one was looking, I did something I had done twenty-six years earlier: I planted a fist full of crumpled money under a mattress.” (242). Amir has put money under a mattress a second time, only this time it was not a sin. Amir sees that Wahid and his family are struggling for money and this time when he puts the money under the mattress he is doing it to help Wahid and his family. By putting the money under Wahid’s mattress Amir has atoned for his sin against Hassan. Through the concept of circularity Amir is given the opportunity to make amends for trying to frame Hassan with theft by helping out a family in need.
Amir is given a second opportunity through circularity to atone for the sins he has made against Hassan by giving Sohrab a chance for a better life. In the beginning of the novel Amir does something that he says made him become who he is today. He watched his best friend Hassan get raped by Assef, and did nothing to stop it from happening. Amir states “I had one final opportunity to make a decision…I could step up into that alley, stand up for Hassan- the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past-and accept what would happen to me. Or I could run. In the end, I ran” (77) By Amir not standing up for Hassan he has betrayed their relationship and has let a horrific crime happen to his best friend. Amir is a coward and has questioned his relationship with Hassan, thinking that what happened to Hassan was the lamb he had to sacrifice to get the relationship he had always wanted with his father. Amir gets a second chance in the novel to atone for being a coward and not standing up for his best friend. Unfortunately Hassan’s tragedy happens more than twice only this time Sohrab was raped by Assef. Amir explains how he sees signs that Assef has raped Sohrab.
After leaving Wahid’s house Amir and Farid make it to Kabul where Assef has taken Sohrab from an orphanage. When Amir goes into Assef’s house he sees signs that Assef has raped Sohrab. Amir describes Assef’s actions towards Sohrab “He brushed his lips against Sohrab’s ear, kept his eye on me” (281). Although Assef never says that he has raped Sohrab his actions imply that he has. Amir sees this and knows that he must do whatever he can to help save Sohrab from further abuse. This circularity is important when it comes to Amir’s redemption because although Amir did not save Sohrab from being raped he did save him from further abuse by fighting Assef to take Sohrab away to a better place. The circularity between the two tragedies is important, when the first tragedy happened Amir did nothing to help out Hassan, and when the situation came around again with Sohrab, Amir fought Assef to help Sohrab from further punishment.
Hassan’s tragedy would not have happened if Amir had the strength to stand up to Assef. Weeks before the tragedy Assef tried to fight Amir in the alley, Amir did not have the courage to fight Assef and so Hassan stepped in to defend Amir. Hassan tells Assef “if you make a move, they’ll have to change your nickname from Assef ‘the Ear Eater’ to ‘One-Eyed Assef,’ because I have this rock pointed at your left eye” (42). Hassan had been pointing his slingshot at Assef’s eye to stop him from hurting Amir who was unable to protect himself. Although Amir has not betrayed Hassan in any way, his cowardly actions lead the tragedy of Hassan. Hosseini uses circularity again when 25 years later Amir is at Assef’s house trying to save Sohrab. Assef tells Amir that he can have Sohrab if he fights him.
Unlike in the past Amir stands up to Assef and fights him. Amir, who has never fought anyone in his life, is getting badly beat by Assef. Sohrab sees how bad Amir is hurt and steps in. Sohrab is standing in the corner of the room holding a sing shot pointed at Assef’s eye, just as his father had done years before. When Assef does not stop beating Amir, Sohrab releases the sling shot. Amir describes “the slingshot made a thwiiiiit sound when Sohrab released the cup. Then Asssef was screaming” (291). Sohrab has saved Amir from Assef just like Hassan had. Since Amir does not have a sin that he is atoning for, the circularity between both situations is important. In the first situation, Amir was unable to fight Assef which lead to Hassan’s rape. In the second situation Amir was able to stand up to Assef, although Sohrab still had to help Amir, Amir was able to save Sohrab from Assef and give him a better life. Amir
saving Sohrab does not make up for what he did to Hassan but the circularity between shows how Amir was able to redeem himself and to do something good out of horrible situation.
Amir’s fight with Assef has given Amir a third chance to redeem himself for all the sins he has committed, especially those regarding Hassan. Towards the end of the novel when Amir is at the house with Assef, Assef tells Amir a story of the time he had kidney stones when he was in jail and how he was getting beat by the Russian soldiers. He states “I was screaming and screaming and he kept kicking me and then, suddenly, he kicked me on the left kidney and the stone passed…I started laughing..the harder he kicked me the harder I laughed” (284). After Assef tells his story to Amir he asks why Amir wants Sohrab. When he finds out that Amir was there to take Sohrab with him he agrees only if Amir fights him. The situation in Assef’s story is repeated when Amir and Assef fight each other. Amir, who has never stood up to anyone or fought anyone in his life, has to fight Assef in order to be able to take Sohrab with him. While they are fighting and Amir is losing badly he states “I don’t know at what point I started laughing, but I did… the harder I laughed, the harder he kicked me, punched me, scratched me” (289).
This situation is significant to Amir’s redemption because the reason of Amir’s laughter is that he is finally getting the punishment he always wanted from Hassan. Amir refers back to the time when he pelted Hassan with pomegranates hoping Hassan would fight back; he says that Assef is finally doing what he always wanted Hassan to do. The circularity between these two events is the most significant parallel in showing how circularity is connected to sin and redemption. Hosseini portrays the concept of circularity many times throughout the novel. Amir has betrayed Hassan and is given the chance to become good again by atoning for his sins. Hosseini uses the concept of circularity to show how someone can be given the chance to make what once was wrong, right. He expresses this when the actions of the characters are repeated through the novel all of which give Amir the chance to redeem the sinful actions he has made into actions that help others.