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 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”
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 power of guilt is Baba. Similar to Amir, Baba
is not immune to the guilt afflicted on others as his own sense of guilt
affects many of the decisions he made throughout the novel. Baba’s believed
that when someone lied they “stole away someone’s right to the truth” (223). Contrary
to his beliefs, Baba’s guilt prompts many of his actions and forces him to lie
to others. Near the conclusion of the novel, it is disclosed that Amir was
Hassan’s half- brother and Baba was Hassan’s real biological father. Baba, as
he stated, “stole the truth” from his loved ones such as Amir and Hassan by
living with the guilt of hiding the truth from his legitimate son, lying to his
illegitimate son and committing, in Baba’s words, his only sin of lying.
Throughout the novel, Baba’s guilt caused him to act ashamed of Amir for
absolutely nothing as Baba stated, “there’s always something missing with my
son” (19). Baba always took out his guilt on Amir by constantly criticizing him
of his actions, as Baba tried to act as if the guilt was nonexistent, when in
reality he was ashamed of himself for lying. Baba’s guilt for not playing the
father role to Hassan, led him to do everything he could for Hassan while still
having the appearance as a man with one son. Baba always criticized Amir
because he wanted Amir to be the perfect son. Baba didn’t want to feel the
remorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan.
There are many instances in the book where Baba forgives Hassan for his
wrongdoing even though Hassan commits the one sin that mattered to Baba which
was lying.

  

 

Baba acted as if the guilt was
nonexistent, instead taking it out on Amir by criticizing the way Amir acted.
Baba’s guilt caused him to constantly act ashamed of Amir, when in all reality
he was ashamed of himself. Baba claimed that there was always “something
missing in Amir” (22). Baba wanted Amir to be the perfect son, so he didn’t
have to feel remorse for giving Amir the lavish life over his other son Hassan.
Baba’s guilt for not being able to be a father to Hassan led him to do
everything he could for Hassan while still keeping up appearances as a
respected man with only one son. When Hassan was accused of stealing Amir’s
birthday presents, even though he committed the only sin that mattered to Baba,
Baba forgave him. Baba’s guilt for not being a father to Hassan, led for him to
care deeply for Hassan and do anything and everything he could to keep Hassan
in his life. Amir always believed that his father was free of guilt, the
epitome of a human being, but that was not the case, not in the slightest.