By Manar A., 10th Grade
In the book The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, the protagonist Amir finds himself conflicted between earning the lifelong approval of his father or saving his loyal friend. Good or bad, this decision is a reflection of Amir’s character.
It can be argued that Amir should be held morally responsible for Hassan’s rape because Hassan always helps Amir and therefore deserves his help. Previously, when Assef is about to beat 12 year old Amir, Hassan rushes to his aid, ensuring Amir will not be harmed. As Assef raises his fists to hurt Amir, Hassan doesn’t hesitate and takes out his loaded slingshot aimed right at Assef’s eye, warning him to leave Amir alone. As a result of Hassan’s steadfast attitude, Assef doesn’t harm Amir. Hassan’s actions in this instance demonstrate his loyalty to Amir . Hassan acts selflessly when he stands up for Amir, knowing that one day they will return. However, when Assef is about to rape Hassan, Amir has no response as Hassan did prior. Instead, Amir runs away from the alleyway because “Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba […] He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?” (Hosseini 77). Amir’s response to the situation demonstrates his immorality. Hassan hadn’t even flinched when protecting Amir, but Amir, when put in that situation, ultimately lets his friend suffer after much contemplation. Moreover, Amir is characterized as shallow when all he cares about is the kite he presents to his father. The kite, supposedly, would earn Amir the love he has wanted his entire life. The flaw in Amir’s decision is that Amir’s father is disappointed by his cowardice, not his lack of accolades. Amir’s actions confirm his father’s point when he abandons Hassan. The love Amir earns after obtaining the kite is artificial and Amir eventually feels the same emptiness he originally felt. The only difference is that Amir doesn’t have the comforting support of Hassan to help him after the fallout.
However, arguments can be presented that demonstrate that Amir shouldn’t be held responsible for the incident in the alley. Of course, the person who had been loyal to Amir all his life, Hassan, was about to get rapped in an alleyway, but this sacrifice would result in a kite which Amir would use to earn his father’s love. Amir’s relationship with his father has always been very tense. Constantly, Amir finds himself looking for ways to appeal to his father but always falls short and feels as though he is unworthy to be his son. His father continually finds numerous flaws within Amir and sees to it that Amir knows about every one. Winning the Kite tournament would be the most opportune way to please his father, for once, since his birth 12 years ago. In one instance, Amir overhears his father talking about him with one of Baba’s friends. “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. […] If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he’s my son” (Hosseini 22). The disapproval Baba portrays toward Amir saddens him and makes him determined to find any way to please his father. Baba first introduces the idea that winning would be the best solution to Amir’s predicament when Baba suggests Amir might win the kite tournament. Amir is then implanted with the idea that “I [Amir] was going to win. There was no other viable option. […] Show him [Baba] once and for all that his son was worthy” (Hosseini 56). The author makes it clear that Amir’s reaction shows his will and determination to get that final kite. The defense of Hassan would possibly mean the disappointment of his father, yet again. Every child Amir’s age deserves the love of their father, but Amir’s dad insists on depriving his son of it. If there is one achievement he needs to complete to finally be accepted into his own family, why wouldn’t he do everything in his power to accomplish that goal?
After a full analysis of both arguments supporting and criticizing Amir for his actions in the alleyway, evidence demonstrates that Amir should be held morally responsible for what happened to Hassan. The largest fallacy in Amir’s logic is that the kite is what will earn his father’s respect, but instead what his father wishes is a change in attitude. When Baba is talking to his friend about Amir, he does express his frustration about Amir’s lack of manhood; however, he does later state that he is envious when Rahim Khan understands Amir more that he does himself. This proves that Baba does love Amir, but is upset he cannot meet his high expectations. Amir’s father doesn’t hate Amir, but their relationship is complicated by Baba’s guilt. Because Hassan is Baba’s son, Baba feels guilty that Hassan doesn’t share the same advantages as Amir. As a result, Baba tries to ensure that Amir will become extraordinary since his other son will never have that opportunity. Moreover, a person doesn’t feel the need to be guilty if he has done nothing wrong. The guilt that hangs over Amir has been with him since the incident in the alleyway. Amir shouldn’t feel guilty if he hasn’t done anything wrong, but his reaction to the situation seem to demonstrate his guilt. Amir is so guilty, in fact, that he attempts to make Hasan leave as a way to escape his guilt. Knowing that his father hates stealing, Amir plants a watch in Hassan’s home to frame Hassan. Amir does this because Hassan’s presence makes Amir feel uneasy, timid, but most of all, guilty. Years later, Amir finds himself unable to have kids with his wife. Amir hatches up the idea that the reason for his infertility is due to the fact that “this was my punishment, and perhaps justly so” (Hosseini 188). Even as a man in his 30s, Amir still blames the problems in his life as a punishment for what he had done. The lack of affection Amir’s father demonstrates and overcompensation of affection he shows to Hassan drive Amir to act immorally. Amir’s lifelong guilt furthermore proves his wrong-doing. This story applies to many who have found themselves torn between meeting their parents’ vast expectations and being true to themselves. The Kite Runner communicates the message that parents can burden their children, driving them to do anything to please them.