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From Selfishness to Maturity
In recalling their childhood, most people would probably picture a world full of happiness and beauty in their mind-unlike Amir’s. Living through a chaotic period in Afghanistan history, Amir witnesses the fall of the Afghanistan government, an attack from the Soviet Army, the migration of Afghanistan refugees, and even the rise of the Taliban regime. It is not hard to imagine that such a tumultuous historical context could make Amir’s development much more tortuous and complicated than others. Amir’s disloyalty forces him to recognize his misdeeds and eventually leads him to seek redemption. Despite experiencing a series of ups and downs, Amir’s character is ultimately shaped by his relationships, his betrayals, and his commitment to embracing a new code of conduct.
While Baba initially influences Amir to be jealous and selfish, Baba and Hassan, more importantly, inspire Amir to become a more mature and selfless adult. Hassan and Baba, acting as Amir’s most important companions greatly influence Amir’s development. At first, influenced by Baba’s “indifference,” Amir selfishly betrays Hassan because he is desperate to have the blue kite to win Baba’s heart. He keeps in mind that “Behind [Hassan], sitting on piles of scrap and rubble, was the blue kite. My key to Baba’s heart” (Hosseini, 78). And after Hassan gets raped, Amir throws the pomegranates at Hassan to try to get him to retaliate. Instead “Hassan [picked] up a pomegranate. He walked toward me. He opened it and crushed it against his own forehead. ‘There’, he croaked, red dripping down his face like blood. ‘“Are you satisfied? Do you feel better?’” (101). Clearly Amir does not feel better—he wants Hassan to fight back so that the pain and guilt Amir is experiencing will be relieved. However, Hassan instead confirms his loyalty which intensifies Amir’s sense of guilt. Later when Baba and Amir are trying to escape from an unsafe Afghanistan, a Russian soldier stops their truck. He claims that he “wants” a lady on the truck in exchange for letting the people on the truck pass. Baba reacts bravely, in defense of the woman, stating that the Russian soldier has no dignity. Afraid for his father’s life, Amir thinks to himself “Can’t you just let it go for once? But I knew he couldn’t—it wasn’t in his nature” (126). Amir recognizes Baba’s “heroism.” Later, Amir demonstrates the same traits of bravery and selflessness, in defense of Sohrab. Amir decides to fight against Assef in order to win Sohrab’s freedom. Ultimately, both Baba and Hassan have a positive influence on Amir and his character development.
Even though many extremely dreadful things have made Amir desperate and insecure, having to acknowledge his misdeeds has a positive effect on Amir’s growth. After Amir wins the kite tournament, Baba takes Amir along with their relatives to Jalalabad on a Friday night to celebrate. After everyone else has fallen asleep, Amir is still awake: “An hour later, I still couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning as my relatives grunted, signed and snored in their sleep. I sat up. A wedge of moonlight streamed in through the window. ‘I watched Hassan get raped,’ I said to no one” (93). At this time, Amir should have felt excited and satisfied because he finally had Baba’s approval. Nonetheless, Amir’s disloyalty consumes him. Many years later, after Baba has died, Amir travels to Pakistan to talk to Rahim Khan, who reveals that Amir and Hassan are half-brothers. Amir is shocked and angered by the revelation: “‘You bastards,’ I muttered. I stood up. ‘You goddamn bastards!’ I screamed. ‘All of you, you bunch of lying goddamn bastards!’” (240). At this moment, Amir demonstrates his frustration regarding having lived a lie. Yet, because he now fully recognizes his duty to Hassan, he begins to think of his misdeeds seriously:
True, I hadn’t made Ali step on the land mind, and I hadn’t brought the Taliban
to shoot Hassan. But I had driven Hassan and Ali out of the house. Was it too
far-fetched to imagine that things might have turned out differently if I hadn’t?
Maybe Baba would have brought them along to America. Maybe Hassan would
have brought them along to America. Maybe Hassan would have had a home of
his own now, a job, a family, a life in a country where no one cared that he was
a Hazara, where most people didn’t even know what a Hazara was. Maybe not.
But maybe so. (244)
After all these considerations, Amir decides to act on Sohrab’s behalf and redeems himself ultimately.
Despite Amir’s earlier mistakes, he accepts responsibility for them and redeems himself, demonstrating his new code of conduct. Towards the end of the story, Amir becomes a more confident and loyal person compared with the selfish, jealous and insecure boy he used to be. After realizing the bond between himself and Sohrab, Amir commits to saving Sohrab from his horrible situation and to bringing him back to America. In one of their conversations, Sohrab says “I don’t want to go to another orphanage” (349), and Amir promises “I won’t ever let that happen” (349). Because of some governmental hold up, it looks like Sohrab might have to go to an orphanage until his paperwork is ready. Upon hearing this, Sohrab is so distraught that he tries to kill himself. Amir works hard to regain his trust, as they begin their lives together in America. Sohrab is still suffering from his ordeal in Afghanistan so Amir tries to find ways to rebuild their relationship. Amir invites Sohrab to fly a kite with him in a tournament in America. In the kite running competition, Sohrab finally finds joy from flying kites with Amir, and Amir sees that joy: “It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make anything all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the words, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. But I’ll take it. With open arms” (401). ¬ The smile of Sohrab symbolizes the results of Amir’s redemption and commitment to new code of conduct, evidenced by his conscientiousness, selflessness and maturity.
After traveling down a tortuous road, Amir seeks a way to rid himself of his guilt, and in the end, finds redemption once he demonstrates a new code of conduct. He becomes a stronger character because once he recognizes his duty to Hassan and Sohrab, he has to find the courage to stand up for what is right and demonstrates his loyalty as well. Even though his troubles seem insurmountable during Amir’s childhood, he learns to be a better person because of them. People often learn the most from their mistakes.