The Kite Runner is a story about an Afghan boy, Amir, who goes from living in war-torn Afghanistan, to a successful writer living in America that faces many hardships throughout his life. The novel explores class consciousness, guilt, betrayal, and the complex nature of friendship. Characters in The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini are primarily motivated by their loyalty and desire for approval which reflects on their morals and values, those who seek redemption in the book are also heavily motivated by their guilt. A prominent theme in the novel by Khaled Hosseini, is guilt and the way is forces characters to make sacrifices to prove their loyalty, and develop a desire for approval and self acceptance. “There is a way to be good again” (2). This is the line that rolls through Amir’s mind over and over throughout Khaled Hosseini’s novel. He illustrates with not only the main character, Amir but with secondary characters as well, that it is not possible to make wrongs completely right again because it’s too late to change the past. In this novel Hosseini is telling us that redemption is obtainable, by allowing us to see the characters actions throughout the novel. Guilt was a main theme that occurred over and over again throughout the story and pushed characters to take certain action.
Amir experiences many events that caused him to carry a great amount of guilt throughout his life. He needed to find a way to make amends which would allow him to forgive himself. For instance after the rape of Hassan, Amir is struck with immense amounts of guilt. He is pushed to make decisions and take actions in order to rid his concious of this burden. He even convinces himself that the horrible act being committed was permissive. While watching this happen he tells himself “After all he was just a Hazara right?” Even though he knows what is happening is wrong, he convinces himself that he will take no action. In return he has guilt for decisions so his mind try to compensate for the act being committed and make it seem as if nothing wrong is happening. In accordance to this guilt, in chapter 9 Amir makes the decision to falsely accuse Hassan of theft in an attempt to run away from his problems. He “went downstairs, crossed the yard, and entered Ali and Hassan’s living quarters by the loquat tree. [He] lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted [his] new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it.” (104) In a utterly self-centered attempt to sacrifice the whole course of their life in order to benefit himself and clear his guilt, Amir’s guilt motivates him to make a decision to frame Hassan in order for him to benefit and be relieved of this anxiety. He thinks that by doing this his goal will be achieved quickly and easily.
Baba will presumingly throw them out and they will leave and never see him again and his conscious will finally be clear. But in fact what happens is almost entirely the opposite, their departure is hard and emotional, and there are serious consequences for Amir’s actions. Another character whose actions heavily reflect on Guilt as a motivator is Amir’s father, Baba. Baba is wealthy, well-respected businessman who is very headstrong and follows his own moral code. Baba has been concealing a secret for his whole life. He is one of the few aware, that Hassan is actually his son, and Amir’s half- brother. This unlawful act of adultery would completely ruin Baba’s reputation, and his guilt of having this affair causes him to seek redemption in many ways. His guilt was motivation for him to forgive Hassan when Amir framed him of stealing the money and watch. He preached before to Amir about how “there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you lie you steal someone’s right to the truth… There is no act more wretched than stealing” But then astonishingly he proceeds to keep a huge and detrimental secret from his son. He feels the guilt of the secret weighing on him so he takes certain actions to in an attempt atone for his “sin”. When Amir frames Hassan for stealing his things baba forgives him because he feels guilt for his unfaithful actions. Amir explains this monumental moment when “Baba stunned him by saying ‘I forgive you’ but theft was the one unforgivable sin, the common denominator of all sins.”(105-106) He takes this action because he feels that he is obligated to do something to make up for his act of sin, and in a sense make up for the issues Hassan had to deal with by not knowing his true father. The justification behind many character’s actions is also attributed to loyalty and sacrifice. Hassan is the main character that most clearly portrays this characteristic, throughout the book he shows an unquestioned loyalty especially towards Amir, but also along with everyone around and in his life.
One place he shows this aspect as a motivator for his actions is when he stayed in a dangerous situation in order to benefit Amir. A recurring event throughout the book was Hassan putting himself in harm’s way to protect someone else he was loyal. In this case, it was after the Kite tournament and he was tasked at retrieving the blue kite when older boys began to hassle him. Amir describes the scene where “Hassan was standing at the blind end of the alley in a defiant stance: fists curled, legs slightly apart. Behind him sitting on piles of scrap and rubble was the blue kite. My key to Baba’s heart.” (71) Hassan was very aware of how important this was to Amir for Baba and his relationship. So his loyalty towards Amir motivated him to stand his ground against the bullies, and put himself in a dangerous scene in order to fight for the blue kite and essentially Amir and Baba’s relationship. He shows as he “[stops and picks] up a rock Assef flinched. He began to take a step back, stopped. ‘Last chance, Hazara’ Hassan’s answer was to cock the arm that held the rock.” (71). He takes action against the older boys here because he must forever prove his loyalty to Amir and the nature of his relationship with Baba, and sacrifice himself. This quotation shows true loyalty that Hassan has for Amir because Hassan was absolutely terrified himself, but he still stuck up for Amir’s sake. It shows Hassan’s love for Amir, he would do anything for Amir to protect him and even take the blame for him. This example is similar to when he sticks up for Amir after he frames him. Baba asks him if he stole Amir’s watch and money and Hassan replies with “a single word, delivered in a thin, raspy voice: ‘Yes.’ ” He admits to the lie ate at the expense of his reputation, to salvage Baba and amir’s relationship. He takes this actions and sacrifices himself to prove his endless loyalty to Amir for the last time. Hassan’s unwavering loyalty is also portrayed towards the end when he comes back to live with Rahim Khan in Baba’s old house. This is when the Taliban came to question him and throw him out of the house they told him “to get his family out of the house by sundown. Hassan protested…
They told Hassan they would be moving in to supposedly keep it safe until I return. Hassan protested again. So they took him to the street… and order[ed] him to kneel… and shot him in the back of the head” In this quotation Hassan show his great loyalty of protesting against the Taliban when they wanted his family to leave the Baba’s house which Rahim was watching. Even though Hassan’s knows in his heart what he doing might cost his life, however he proves his loyalty throughout to Baba and Amir which ultimately is what motivates him and eventually does cost his life. His loyalty ultimately causes him to sacrifice his well being in order to protect his loyalty to Amir and Baba. The character Rahim Khan continues this theme of loyalty and sacrifice with the specific actions he takes. His decision to tell Amir that Hassan is his half-brother is a Sacrifice of his loyalty to Baba. This is a hard thing for him to do since he and Baba were such close friends but he is motivated and ultimately tells him because it is the right thing to do and feels the sacrifice is necessary.
The overarching themes of guilt and loyalty throughout the novel plays a huge role in the driving factor that motivates characters to either take action or stay passive. Whether it was not defending Hassan or not telling the real truth to both his sons, Amir and Baba were key examples of times where guilt was a force that motivated them not to take action. In contrast to this Rahim and Hassan were prime examples that showed that loyalty and sacrifice drove them to take action and stand up for someone or for what’s right. The way that Characters in The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini are primarily motivated by their loyalty and desire for approval which reflects on their morals and values, those who seek redemption in the book are also heavily motivated by their guilt. A prominent theme in the novel by Khaled Hosseini, is guilt and the way is forces characters to make sacrifices to prove their loyalty, and develop a desire for approval and self acceptance.