Many individuals often feel guilty for a choice theymake in life. This guilt that exists in one’s self, can have a tremendousimpact on their entire life. Guilt has the incredible power to change anindividual’s perspective and cause them to make irrational decisions. The KiteRunner, written by Khaled Hosseini, is a world-renowned novel published in 2003that tells the story of a young boy named Amir who finds himself guilty ofhaving failed to fight a boy who raped his friend.
One of the main themesHosseini 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 foundthemselves guilty at one point in the novel for making a choice they consideredto be wrong. Hosseni implies two different types of guilt characters face inthe Kite Runner, the first being misplaced guilt in which individuals feelguilty when they aren’t responsible for the events they feel guilty for.
The othertype of guilt expressed in this book is guilt that individuals rightly feelbecause of their own actions or inactions that they are responsible for. The three characters exhibhit a variety ofthe two types of guilt described above. The guilt expressed by these charactersaffected their future decisions and the entirety of the plot. The Kite Runner demonstrates that guilt canhave an immense effect on one’s actions, thoughts and decisions. The Kite Runner demonstrates the theme of guiltthrough the main character, Amir. In the case of Amir, one decision affectedhis actions for the rest of his life.
In the beginning of the story, Amirobserves his close friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boy namedAseef. Amir was hesitant between makingthe decision of running away or intervening. “In the end, Amir decided to runand not stand up for Hassan. Amir’s guilt developed from the moment he decidedto run away from the alley. However, the hidden message Hosseni impliesthroughout the novel, is misplaced guilt, as even if Amir intervened and stoodup 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 hewouldn’t have made a difference in the first place. This one decision left a stain on Amir forthe next thirty years. A quote on pg. 88 states “I wish someone would wake meup, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore” This quote explains theguilt that existed within Amir after seeing what happened to Hassan. Throughoutthe text, Amir finds himself seeking opportunities to redeem himself for his descsionof not intervening in the situation when Hassan was getting bullied.
An exampleis when Amir tries throwing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt to get Hassanto fight back and punish Amir. However, Hassan refused to throw any pomegranatesat Amir. A quote on pg.94 states “I wanted Hassan to fight me back for the wayI 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 wantedto feel the act of being punished for his wrongdoing, similar to how Hassan waspunished due to Amir’s apparent mistake.
The guilt carried on with Amir intohis adulthood as he embarked on different journeys to seek redemption for theone decision he made as a kid. An example is when Amir travels to Afghanistanto rescue Hassan’s orphaned son from the harsh circumstances he was forced toface in Kabul. This is one example of many of how Amir attempts to pursuedifferent opportunities to free himself of his own guilt for the decision hemade 20 years ago. Amir’s guilt plagued his entire life and many of his futureactions which revolved around his guilt from one decision. Another character in Hosseini’s Kite Runner thatdemonstrates the effect of guilt on one’s self is Baba.
Similar to Amir, Baba’sown sense of guilt affects many of his decisions. Contrary to his actions inthe novel, Baba believed that lying was an extremely bad act, as Baba stated onpage.223 “when someone lied, they stole away someone’s right to the truth.” However, as the novel progressed, Baba isforced to lie to many other characters such as Amir and Hassan. Near theconclusion of the novel, the reader realizes that Amir is Hassan’s half brotherand that Hassan is Baba’s biological father. However, Baba never reveals that informationto neither Amir nor Hassan, but instead keeps it as a secret to himself, committingthe only sin that mattered to Baba. Baba’s guilt caused him to forcibly actashamed of Amir for absolutely nothing.
On page 19 Baba stated, “there’s alwayssomething missing with my son.” This quote indicates that Baba always felt somethingwrong with Amir and thus was always critical of Amir. Baba’s guilt for not beinga good father to his biological son, Hassan, led him to give preferential treatmentfor Hassan while still having the appearance as a man with one son. Baba didn’twant to feel the remorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimateson, Hassan.
There are many examples in the text that demonstate how Baba’s guiltforces him towards lying to his legitimate son. An example from the text is duringchapter 8, when Hassan steals Amir’s birthday money and Baba commits the onesin 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 tocommit the only sin that mattered to him, demonstrating guilt’s impact on one’sself.
Another character affected by guilt is Sanubar.Sanubar’s guilt affects many of her decisions and is the driving force ofnearly all her actions. After giving birth to Hassan, Sanubar left her family witha group of singers, leaving her family in the dust. Later in the story, thetext reveals that Hassan is Baba’s biological son, indicating that Saubar andBaba committed infidelity.
Sanubar felt guilty as she was scared if the truth evercame out that she and Baba committed adultery. As a result, Sanubar’s guiltforces her to leave her son. A quote on page 18 states “She left Hassan soonafter she was done giving birth.” This quote implies that Sanubar’s guiltaffected her decision to quickly leave her family. This one descison, left astain on Sanubar for the rest of her life. Thirty years later, Sanubar, in herold age with an assortment of injuries, decided to go to Hassan’s house and begfor forgiveness for the decision she made of leaving Hassan.
A quote on page270 states “(I) beg forgiveness. (I) made a mistake when I left you.” Thisquote indicates how regretful Sanubar felt after leaving Hassan, demonstrating guilt’spower on one’s thoughts. Sanubar evenwent to the point of begging Allah for forgiveness.
Sanubar’s guilt for leavingHassan, forced her to come back to Hassan to be a good mother in his life. Theguilt that stemmed from one decision that Sanubar made of leaving Hassan, affectednearly all of her actions and decisions she makes throughout the novel.