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-renownednovel published in 2003 that tells the story of a young boy named Amir whofinds himself guilty of having failed to fight a boy who raped his friend. Oneof the main themes Hosseini emphasizes in the novel is the powerful effect thatguilt has on one’s self.
Throughout the novel, different characters such asBaba, Sanubar, and Amir found themselves guilty of making a choice theyconsidered to be wrong. Hosseini portrays two different types of guilt in the Kite Runner; the first being misplacedguilt in which individuals feel guilty when they aren’t responsible for theevents they feel guilty for, and the second is guilt that individuals rightlyfeel because of their own actions or inactions that they are responsible for.These three characters exhibit these forms of guilt. The guilt expressed bythese characters affected their future decisions and the entirety of theplot. The Kite Runner demonstrates that guilt can have a detrimental effecton one’s self.
A character in Hosseini’s Kite Runner that demonstrates the negative effect of guilt on one’sself is Baba. Baba’s own sense of guilt affects many of his decisions. Contraryto his actions in the novel, Baba believed that lying was sinful because “whensomeone lied, they stole away someone’s right to the truth.
” (Hosseini, 2003,223) This quote illustrates one of Baba’s most important sins, lying. However, as the novel progressed, Baba liesto many characters such as Amir and Hassan demonstrating how Baba’s guiltforced him to go against his morals. 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, rather keepingit secret, committing the only sin that mattered to him, which was lying.Baba’s guilt of not having the ability to love Hassan openly forced him to takehis guilt out on Amir since he was his illegitimate son. Baba stated, “There’salways something missing with him” (Hosseini, 2003, 19) This indicates thatBaba always felt something wrong with Amir, thus always criticizing him.
Anexample is when Amir secretly eavesdrops on a conversation between Baba andRahim Khan when Baba states “a boy who can’t stand up for himself becomes a manwho can’t stand up for anything.” (Hosseini, 2003, 22) Rahim Khan tries todefend Amir; however, Baba continues to state how terrible his son is. Thisexample implies how Baba continually takes his guilt out on Amir bydemoralizing him. Baba’s guilt for not being a good, loving father to hisbiological son, Hassan, led him to give preferential treatment to Hassan whilestill having the appearance as a man with one son. Baba did not want to feelremorse for giving Amir the luxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan.There are many examples in the text that demonstrates how Baba’s guilt forceshim towards lying to his biological son, Hassan. An example from the text iswhen Hassan steals Amir’s birthday money and Baba lies by forgiving Hassan,even though Baba acknowledged the fact that Hassan stole Amir’s money.
Thisillustrates how Baba’s guilt of not being able to love Hassan as a father,forced him to lie and forgive Hassan thus give him the benefit of the doubt.Baba had to live with the guilt of not telling neither Amir nor Hassan thetruth for his entire life. Baba’s guilt of lying to his illegitimate son, Amir,and hiding the truth from his biological son, Hassan, forced him to commit theonly sin that mattered to him, demonstrating guilt’s detrimental impact onone’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. When the charactersin the story find out that Hassan is Sanubar’s biological son, it indicatesthat Sanubar and Baba committed infidelity, as Ali and Sanubar were originallymarried. Sanubar’s guilt forced her to leave her son as she feared theconsequences of others knowing the truth that she and Baba committed adultery.
A quote states “She left Hassan soon after she was done giving birth.”(Hosseini, 2003, 18) This quote implies that Sanubar’s guilt affected herdecision to quickly leave her family. Thirty years later, Sanubar is in her oldage with several physical injuries.
She decides to go to Hassan’s house and begfor forgiveness for the decision she made of leaving him, “(I) beg forgiveness.(I) made a mistake when I left you.” (Hosseini, 2003, 270) This quote indicateshow regretful and guilty Sanubar felt after leaving Hassan, even begging Allah– the god she followed, for forgiveness, demonstrating guilt’s power over one’sthoughts.
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 her actionsand decisions she made throughout the novel. The Kite Runnerillustrates the theme of guilt through the main character, Amir, as well. Onedecision affected his actions for the rest of his life: in the beginning of thestory, Amir witnessed his close friend, Hassan, getting bullied by an older boynamed Assef.
Amir was hesitant about making the decision of running away orintervening. In the end, Amir decided 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 that Hosseini implies throughout the novel ismisplaced guilt; even if Amir intervened and stood up for Hassan, he wouldstand no chance against the older boy, Assef. As a result, Amir unnecessarilyfeels guilty about what he did without realizing that he wouldn’t have made adifference in the first place. This onedecision left a burden on Amir’s shoulders for the next thirty years. As Amirexpresses, “I wish someone would wake me up, so I wouldn’t have to live withthis lie anymore.” (Hosseini, 2003, 88) This quote demonstrates the guilt thatexisted within Amir after seeing what happened to Hassan.
Throughout the text,Amir finds himself seeking opportunities to redeem himself of his guilt for hisdecision of not intervening in the situation when Hassan was getting bullied.An example is when Amir tries throwing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt toget Hassan to fight back and punish Amir. However, Hassan refused to throw anypomegranates at Amir. Another quote states “I wanted Hassan to fight me backfor the way I failed him.” (Hosseini, 2003, 94) Amir wanted Hassan to fight himback so he could have the “punishment he craved” (Hosseini, 2003, 93). Amirwanted Hassan to hit him with pomegranates because of his guilt that wouldn’tgo away. Amir wanted to feel the act of being punished for his wrongdoing,similar to how Hassan was punished due to Amir’s mistake.
This shows how Amir’sguilt causes him to make irrational decisions throughout the novel. The guiltcarried on with Amir into his adulthood as he embarked on different journeys toseek redemption 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 made many attempts to pursue different opportunities to free himselfof his own guilt for the decision he made 20 years ago.
Amir’s guilt plaguedhis entire life and many of his future actions which revolved around his guiltfrom one decision. The Kite Runnerillustrated guilt’s powerful effect on one’s actions. Hosseini uses Baba todemonstrate how guilt can even cause individuals to break bonds between theirloved ones. Minor characters such as Sanubar show how the guilt of a majordecision can be felt for a lifetime.
Finally, Hosseini uses the main character,Amir, to demonstrate how the one decision he made of leaving his closest friendget bullied, affected him throughout his life. As the novel progressed, readers realized how one choice could affectsomeone’s entire life. Guilt has a detrimental impact on one’s self; it cancompletely change someone from the inside out.