A List of Important Themes

Redemption is receiving forgiveness for the commission of a sin. Amir’s quest to redeem himself makes up the heart of the novel. Amir feels a strong need to find redemption after he betrays Hassan in one of the worst possible ways; he watches Hassan get raped and cowardly refuses to intervene. He also accuses Hassan of false theft and was responsible of the removal of Hassan from his family’s affluent home. Amir is haunted by the guilt of his wrongdoings even after he gets married and starts a successful career as a writer. However, one day his old friend Rahim Khan calls him and tells him there is a way to redeem himself back in Afghanistan. So, Amir decides to go on a trip to Afghanistan, unaware that he wouldn’t return alone, and for a few months. In Afghanistan he learns that Hassan was not just a friend, but his brother after all. He also finds out that Hassan and his wife were heartlessly killed, leaving his son Sohrab in an orphanage. In order to redeem himself, Amir decides to take Sohrab from the orphanage. Amir’s desire for redemption is tested when he is forced to fight Assef to save Sohrab. He is beaten by Assef but stands his ground as he has been longing this punishment for 26 years. For once, Amir has sacrificed himself for Hassan. Amir later realizes that to completely redeem himself, Rahim Khan had meant for him to adopt Sohrab. By accepting this fact, Amir displays the ultimate courage and redeems himself. Another character who tries to find redemption is Baba. Baba tries to find redemption after sleeping with his servant’s wife and having a child with her. Baba kept all this, kept Hassan, a secret from everyone except Rahim Khan. He tries to find redemption by keeping Hassan close to him and providing him shelter and clothes.     


Betrayal, which can be considered a form of sin, is evident throughout the novel and ends up being cyclical in The Kite Runner. Amir betrays Hassan in several ways, marked by one act which snowballs in to several others. He silently watches Hassan get raped; he becomes cruel to him, avoids him, and throws pomegranates at him. The final blow of betrayal was when he planted a watch and money under Hassan’s mattress to drive him away from his home. Amir’s sense of betrayal was further accentuated when he witnessed how Baba stood up for another fellow lady passenger during their flight from Kabul to Pakistan. The reason behind Amir’s betrayals was that he was constantly in pursuit of Baba’s affections. In fact, he makes it his mission to be praised by Baba. So on the day of the Kite-flying tournament, Amir seizes his chance to win the prized kite, the key to winning Baba’s heart. At the end of the day Amir defeats his opponents and wins the tournament. When the last kite falls he asks Hassan to run it for him. Keen to bring home the kite that Amir wants so badly, Hassan takes off after the kite. When Amir follows Hassan he comes to a secluded alley and he sees Hassan nobly protecting the kite from the neighbourhood bully Assef and his group. However, when he witnesses Hassan being raped, he turns his back to it and runs away. This act reveals the ultimate betrayal in Amir’s young life.      


Guilt is an awareness of having done something wrong accompanied by feelings of shame and regret.  For most of the novel, Amir attempts to deal with his guilt of leaving Hassan to his fate in the alley by avoiding it. However doing this clearly did nothing towards redeeming himself, and so his guilt endures. As a result he cringed every time Hassan’s name was mentioned, and avoided even being near him. Driven by his never-ending guilt, Amir frames Hassan for a crime he never commits in an attempt to get him fired. Overwhelmed with guilt, Amir frequently thinks about his actions in the past. He is always bothered by them, but doesn’t know how to put an end to his guilt until Rahim Khan gives him a way. After his meeting with Rahim Khan he realizes that to stop this guilt he had to retrieve Sohrab, Hassan’s orphaned son, from Afghanistan. During his attempt to bring back Sohrab, Amir is brutalized by Assef. Near the end of the fight, Amir starts to laugh knowing that he has been waiting for this sort of punishment for 26 years.     


Honour can have many definitions, but the one meant for this book is personal integrity. One example is when Amir goes back to Afghanistan to find and adopt Sohrab. That is where he begins to heal himself from his betrayal of Hassan. It is what he decides to do when Rahim Khan says: “You can be good again.” Also, Baba was very honorable when he protected a woman, whom he had never met before, from being abused by a Russian soldier. He said he would take 1000 bullets for her if need be.      

An Entry Done by Shawn Kurian      



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