The Usage of Guilt as a Driving Force for Decision-Making in The Kite Runner

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Voltaire once said, “Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do”. Every decision made in life is followed by a consequence. Guilt is one of the most frequent consequences in the novel, The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini depicts the cataclysmic ability of guilt to consume one’s life through the several relationships between Ali and Baba, Hassan and Amir and Sohrab and Amir. Guilt can be a driver for people in several ways. In The Kite Runner, guilt serves as a driver for a few people, which leads them all in completely opposite directions. Guilt is heavily shown in the novel by anger, whether it's being held in or inflicted upon. The protagonist in The Kite Runner, Amir suffers the consequences of his remorseful actions. Towards the beginning of the book Amir witnesses something that plagues him with guilt for the rest of his life, until he finally finds a way to redeem himself. Amir notices his servant, Hassan who is also his friend in an alleyway with some oppressors. Amir decides not to intervene, and watches his friend get sexually abused, traumatized by this he makes something up about Hassan to get rid of him so that he can get rid of his “demons”. Amir bears this guilt throughout the book. It takes time for him to finally atone for his sins, and forgive himself. However, some characters do actually use their guilt to their own advantage.

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Although Amir and Baba’s don’t possess the most loving relationship, Amir is still able to learn from Baba. Baba is merely preparing Amir for the real world. Throughout the novel, Hosseini conveys the idea of sentimental bonds between sons and fathers, which is displayed through the relationships between Amir and Baba, Sohrab and Amir and Sohrab and Hassan. Hosseini makes the reader recognize how vital an empathetic fatherly figure is. Amir is so desperate for his father’s love, he goes to extreme lengths to get it. When Hassan goes to retrieve the kite for him, he is stopped by Assef. Assef rapes Hassan and because Amir is not only a coward but desperate for his father’s approval so he doesn’t interfere. In a way, it’s Baba’s lack of effort in communicating with Amir on an emotional level that is the reason that Amir doesn’t interfere. If Amir felt that he didn’t need to prove himself, his actions may have been slightly different. That’s where the guilt comes in. Amir believes that if he sends Hassan away he will forget his actions and he will cease to feel guilty. These are clear signs of selfishness, something that Amir should have been taught not to be. This big moment is like the stem of the novel, everything revolves around it. The guilt he bears through the book originates from this decision he made. It didn’t help that Amir was jealous of Hassan having a better relationship with Baba then himself. This is yet another reason as to why he left Hassan in the alleyway.

The moment Amir left Hassan in the alley to be raped is when his guilt developed into something that would plague him for the next 30 years, questioning his every decision. Amir was too selfish to realize at the time that Hassan had stuck up for him his entire life and the one time Hassan needed Amir’s help, Amir was nowhere to be seen. This decision is what changed Amir’s life. This choice haunts Amir with guilt until he understands that to redeem himself he needs to leave to Afghanistan and bring Sohrab to the U.S. Amir doesn’t learn that he will have to confront Assef again until he’s already arrived in Afghanistan. When he encounters Assef for the second time he doesn’t concede, because to redeem himself he does what he should have done for Sohrab’s father decades ago. Soon after the event happened Amir whispered into the darkness that he watched Hassan get raped. He desperately hoped that “someone would wake up and hear, so he wouldn’t have to live with the lie anymore” (86). Amir is confessing his guiltiness indirectly, in the form of a cry for help. He is filled with remorse and wants to confess his wrongdoing, but doesn’t have the courage to own up to it.

When Amir and Baba move to America he attempts to bury and hide all of his guilt from the past in America. Admittedly he has trouble suppressing his guilt. He starts to have dreams reminding him of all that occurred back in Afghanistan eventually, of course, he deals with it like the grown man his father always wanted him to be. That’s when he finally redeems himself. Amir has a deep-seated psychological need to put his life in Afghanistan, with all its unpleasant memories, behind him. One comes to realize how Amir matures throughout the book. For instance towards the beginning of the book when he selfishly destroys Hassan and Ali’s lives, He does it without thinking twice, but further down the line, when he is a grown man he receives a call from Rahim Khan in Pakistan. Rahim Khan tells Amir that there is a way to be good again, implying that he knows what happened in Afghanistan all those years before. Rahim Khan’s dying wish is for Amir to make things right, so he can finally redeem himself. Before Rahim Khan asks Amir for this favour he tells Amir that Hassan is his half-brother and Amir becomes severely indignant. But deep down Amir knows that he always somewhat knew, another reason adding to his immense guilt. This is what he needs to do to be set free of this guilt that he’s drowning in throughout the entirety of the book.

The novel, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini conveys an influential message regarding guilt. From the beginning until the end, the plot is driven by the guilt of the main character, Amir, when he was 12 years olf abandoned his friend when he most needed him and from there he felt regret for the rest of his life. The guilt ate him up from the inside. It took something exceedingly audacious to eventually start on the road to moral redemption. Hosseini wants the readers to grasp that guilt is neverending and that guilt is more powerful than most people make it out to be. Guilt molds and twists people at their core; he tries to express that guilt will eat away at a person until they finally redeem themselves for their wrongdoings and free themselves from the chains of guilt.

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