Many individuals often feel guilty for a choice theymake in life. This guilt that exists in one’s self can have a tremendous impacton their entire life. Guilt has the incredible power to change an individual’sperspective and cause them to make irrational decisions. The Kite Runner,written by Khaled Hosseini, is a world-renowned novel published in 2003 thattells the story of a young boy named Amir who finds himself guilty of havingfailed to fight a boy who raped his friend.

One of the main themes Hosseiniemphasizes in the novel is the powerful effect that guilt has on one’s selfHO1 . Throughout the novel, different characters such asAmir, Sanubar and Baba found themselves guilty at one point in the novel formaking a choice they considered to be wrong. Hosseni portrays HO2 two different types of guilt characters face in theKite Runner.  The first being misplacedguilt in which individuals feel guilty when they aren’t responsible for theevents they feel guilty for. The other type of guilt expressed in this book isguilt that individuals rightly feel because of their own actions or inactionsthat they are responsible for.

  The threecharacters exhibit a variety of the two types of guilt described above. Theguilt expressed by these characters affected their future decisions and theentirety of the plot.  The Kite Runnerdemonstrates that guilt can have a powerful HO3 effect on one’s self. 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, getting 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 that Hosseni impliesthroughout the novel is misplaced guilt; even if Amir intervened and stood upfor Hassan, he would stand no chance against 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 to support this from the text states “I wishsomeone would wake me up, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore.”(88)This quote explains the guilt that existed within Amir after seeing whathappened to Hassan. Throughout the text, Amir finds himself seekingopportunities to redeem himself for his decision of not intervening in thesituation when Hassan was getting bullied. An example is when Amir triesthrowing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt to get Hassan to fight back andpunish Amir. However, Hassan refused to throw any pomegranates at Amir. Anotherquote states “I felt so guilty.

I wanted Hassan to fight me back forthe way I failed himHO4 .”(94) This quote indicates that Amir wanted Hassan tofight him back, so he could have the “punishment he craved” (93). Amir wantedto feel the act of being punished for his wrongdoing, similar to how Hassan waspunished due to Amir’s apparent mistake. This demonstrates how Amir’s guiltcauses him to make irrational decisions throughout the novel. The guilt carriedon with Amir into his adulthood as he embarked on different journeys to seekredemption for the one decision he made as a kid. An example is when Amirtravels to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan’s orphaned son from the harshcircumstances he was forced to face in Kabul. This is one example of many ofhow Amir attempts to pursue different opportunities to free himself of his ownguilt for the decision he made 20 years ago. Amir’s guilt plagued his entirelife and many of his future actions which revolved around his guilt from onedecision.

 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. An example fromthe novel is when Baba stated “when someone lied, they stole away someone’sright to the truth.” (223)  However, asthe novel progressed, Baba lies to many other characters such as Amir andHassan. Near the conclusion of the novel, the reader realizes that Amir isHassan’s half brother and that Hassan is Baba’s biological father.

However,Baba never reveals that information to neither Amir nor Hassan, but insteadkeeps it as a secret to himself, committing the only sin that mattered to Baba,which was lying. Baba’s guilt caused him to forcibly act ashamed of Amir for noreason. Baba stated, “there’s always something missing with my son.”(19) Thisquote indicates that Baba always felt something wrong with Amir and thus wasalways critical of Amir. Baba’s guilt for not being a good father to hisbiological son, Hassan, led him to give preferential treatment for Hassan whilestill having the appearance as a man with one son. Baba didn’t want to feel theremorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan.There are many examples in the text that demonstrate how Baba’s guilt forceshim towards lying to his legitimate son. An example from the textis during chapter 8HO5 , when Hassan steals Amir’s birthday money and Baba liesby forgiving Hassan.

  Baba’s guilt oflying to his illegitimate son, Amir, and hiding the truth from his legitimateson, Hassan, forced him to commit the only sin HO6 that mattered to him, demonstrating guilt’s powerful impacton one’s self. 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 familyto join a group of singers, leaving her family in the dust. Later in the story,the text reveals that Hassan is Baba’s biological son, indicating that Saubarand Baba committed infidelity.

Sanubar felt guilty as she was scared if thetruth ever came out that she and Baba committed adultery. As a result,Sanubar’s guilt forces her to leave her son. A quote states HO7 “She left Hassan soon after she was done givingbirth.” (18) This quote implies that Sanubar’s guilt affected her decision toquickly leave her family. This one decision, left a stain on Sanubar for therest of her life.

Thirty years later, Sanubar is in her old age with an assortmentof injuries. She decides to go to Hassan’s house and beg for forgiveness forthe decision she made of leaving him. Another quote states HO8 “(I) beg forgiveness. (I) made a mistake when I leftyou.” This quote indicates how regretful Sanubar felt after leaving Hassan,demonstrating guilt’s power on one’s thoughts.

 Sanubar even went to the point of begging Allah – the god she followed,for forgiveness. Sanubar’s guilt for leaving Hassan forced her to come back toHassan’s life, so she could be a good mother. The guilt that stemmed from onedecision that Sanubar made of leaving Hassan, affected nearly all of heractions and decisions she made throughout the novel. The Kite Runner illustrated guilt’s powerful effect onone’s actions. Hosseni uses Baba to demonstrate how guilt can even causeindividuals to break bonds between their loved ones. Minor characters such asSanubar, display how guilt can be carried on with someone for a lifetime.

Lastbut not least, Hosseni uses the main character, Amir, to illustrate how the onedescsion he made of leaving his closest friend get raped, affected his entirelife.  As the novel progressed, readersrealized how one choice could affect someone’s life until they redeemedthemselves for their wrongdoing. Guilt has a powerful impact on one’s self; ithas the ability to completely change someone from the inside out.


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