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. Theother type of guilt expressed in this book is guilt that individuals rightlyfeel because of their own actions or inactions that they are responsiblefor. The three characters exhibhit avariety of the two types of guilt described above. The guilt expressed by thesecharacters affected 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 anypomegranates at Amir. A quote on pg.94 states “I wanted Hassan to fight me backfor the way I failed him” This quote indicates that Amir wanted Hassan to fighthim back, so he could have the “punishment he craved” (93) This demonstratesthat Amir wanted to feel the act of being punished for his wrongdoing, similarto how Hassan was punished due to Amir’s apparent mistake.
The guilt carried onwith 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 harsh circumstanceshe was forced to face in Kabul. This is one example of many of how Amir attemptsto pursue different opportunities to free himself of his own guilt for thedecision he made 20 years ago. Amir’s guilt plagued his entire life and many ofhis future actions 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 thatinformation to neither Amir nor Hassan, but instead keeps it as a secret tohimself, committing the only sin that mattered to Baba. Baba’s guilt caused himto forcibly act ashamed of Amir for absolutely nothing.
On page 19 Baba stated,”there’s always something missing with my son.” This quote indicates that Babaalways felt something wrong with Amir and thus was always critical of Amir.Baba’s guilt for not being a good father to his biological son, Hassan, led himto give preferential treatment for Hassan while still having the appearance asa man with one son.
Baba didn’t want to feel the remorse for giving Amir theluxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan. There are many examples in thetext that demonstate how Baba’s guilt forces him towards lying to hislegitimate son. An example from the text is during chapter 8, when Hassansteals Amir’s birthday money and Baba commits the one sin that mattered to him,by 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 that mattered to him,demonstrating guilt’s impact on 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 familywith 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 on page 18 states “Sheleft Hassan soon after she was done giving birth.” This quote implies thatSanubar’s guilt affected her decision to quickly leave her family. This onedescison, left a stain on Sanubar for the rest of her life. Thirty years later,Sanubar, in her old age with an assortment of injuries, decided to go toHassan’s house and beg for forgiveness for the decision she made of leavingHassan.
A quote on page 270 states “(I) beg forgiveness. (I) made a mistakewhen I left you.” This quote indicates how regretful Sanubar felt after leavingHassan, demonstrating guilt’s power on one’s thoughts. Sanubar even went to the point of beggingAllah for forgiveness. Sanubar’s guilt for leaving Hassan, forced her to comeback to Hassan to be a good mother in his life. The guilt that stemmed from onedecision that Sanubar made of leaving Hassan, affected nearly all of heractions and decisions she makes throughout the novel.