Difficult Choices in the Kite Runner

In Khaled Hosseini’s book, The Kite Runner, the author brings the reader on a journey where we are introduced to two young boys, Amir and Hassan. It is a story about their friendship and the choices they make while growing up in Kabul. Although, Amir and Hassan are raised in the same household, and are fed from same breast, they grow up in different realities: Amir is a Pashtun and the son of a rich and noble man, Hassan is a Hazara and Amir’s servant, whose father also served for Amir’s father. These two boys find themselves in many different situations and who is to tell what the right decision is?

When we find ourselves caught between two options how do we know which way is the right path? The truth is, we do not. And in order to realize what decision is the right option, we need to think about the outcome. In this novel the question to be determined is which character does the right thing, Hassan or Amir. Although Amir and Hassan are both Muslims, they follow different faiths inside their religion. Hassan, a devoted Shi’a Muslim, embraces his religion and shows how his faith provides him strength in hard times. His devotion to his faith is described by Amir when Hosseini writes, “Hassan never missed any of the five daily prayers.

Even when we were out playing, he’d excuse himself, draw water from the well in the yard, wash up, and disappear into the hut” (Hosseini 69). Amir, a Sunni Muslim, is confused and doubtful about his faith. He shows this when he recalls the winter when he and Hassan were running kites, “And may God—if He exists, that is—strike me blind if the kite didn’t just drop into his outstretched arms” (Hosseini 55) . Amir’s uncertainty about God and his faith affect his decision-making often with negative consequences. Amir choices not only affect him but also Hassan, Ali, and Baba.

Amir and Hassan’s social class status also affect their relationship, but it also affects how people treat them. Amir, a Pashtun, is the privileged character; Baba can give him anything he desires. Amir has the opportunity to attend school and to receive an education. When people outside of the relationship of Amir and Hassan see them out together, there is usually something to be said. Amir is protected from harassment at times because of Baba’s influence and respect. Hassan is picked on because he is a Hazara; they also make fun of his father Ali, and some about his mother.

People also question why Amir and Hassan play together; Hassan is Amir’s servant not his friend. Hassan irons Amir’s clothes and prepares his meals with his father. Amir only plays with him when there are no other children to play with. Unlike Amir, Hassan does not have the opportunity to attend school, and needs Amir to read him stories. Amir seems to be a selfish character, thinking about only what he will benefit from at the present moment. He does not think about future outcomes and consequences. Amir could never bring himself to call Hassan his friend.

When Amir and Hassan are confronted by Assef and his goons in the beginning of the story, Assef questions Amir on how he can even call Hassan his friend. Amir finds himself in a realization that he did not know what Hassan was. “But he’s not my friend! I almost blurted. He’s my servant! Had I really thought that? Of course I hadn’t. I hadn’t. I treated Hassan well, just like a friend, better even, more like a brother. But if so, then why, when Baba’s friends came to visit with their kids, didn’t I ever include Hassan in our games? Why did I play with only when no one else was around? Hosseini 41)” Amir claims to be Hassan’s friend, but he even questions this friendship himself. And even though Hassan would do anything for Amir, he still is unsure of this friendship. Because of Hassan, Amir discovered his passion for writing. Amir had always taken advantage of the friendship between Hassan and him. He made fun of Hassan whenever he had the chance, but Hassan never took it to heart and still considered Amir his best friend. One day while Amir read to Hassan, Amir made up the ending of the story and Hassan loved it. He said, “That was the best story you’ve read me in a long time” (Hosseini 30).

That same night, he wrote his first story. The decision of friendship and the relationship of Amir and Hassan may seem like a difficult decision at the beginning of the story, and at the time it is. But as the story goes on the choices these two characters need to make become harder and harder. Hassan was both mentally and physically stronger than Amir. Amir never stood up for himself. The day when Hassan stood up to Assef for Amir and himself was the day that changed the course of their lives forever. Hassan may have had his slingshot at the time, but Assef swore on revenge.

One of the next major events after this was the day of the Kite flying competition. This cold winter day would be the day that changed the relationship of Amir and Hassan forever. As Amir cut down the last kite, Hassan ran to get the kite that he promised he would come home with for Amir. There was only one problem, Hassan never came home. Amir went to look for Hassan and made a horrifying discovery. “I opened my mouth, almost said something. Almost. The rest of my life might have turned out differently if I had. But I did not. I just watched paralyzed” (Hosseini 73).

Amir walked through the streets of his home town, searching for Hassan, as he looked and asked others if they saw a Hazara running with a blue kite. Amir heard voices and followed them to the alleyway where he found Hassan. Amir saw the blue kite behind the back of Hassan; he protected the kite from the one person that he hated the most, Assef. Hassan did not give up the kite and was given two options: He either gave the blue kite to Assef or expected something bad to happen to him. Hassan refused to give up the kite because he had promised Amir he would return with it.

This resulted in Assef rapping Hassan instead. Amir caught a glimpse of Hassan’s face and ran away. He betrayed the person that once stood up for him; the one person who was willing to do anything to be loyal to Amir. Hassan could have easily giving up the kite and he would have never been rapped. But his loyalty to Amir was so important that he was hurt, and Amir could not even bring himself to stand up to Assef for fear that the same thing would happen to him. Amir was a coward; when Amir decided to run, life would never be the same again. I lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it. I waited another thirty minutes. Then I knocked on Baba’s door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies” (Hosseini 104). Amir could not stand living with Hassan any more. The guilt he felt about not saving Hassan in the alleyway on that cold winter day was eating him alive. Amir tried to make it seem as if Hassan stole money from him. After Baba was told about this incident, he made everyone sit in a room. Hassan took the blame for the stealing because he wanted to save Amir.

Amir was surprised when Baba had forgiven Hassan for the stealing, but Ali told Baba that they could not stand living there anymore and they decided to leave. As Hassan and his father loaded their belongings into Baba’s vehicle, Amir realized that this was the last time he would ever see Hassan and Ali again. Ali knew deep down that Hassan would not steal this money and Amir could not believe that Hassan had saved him once again, but this was the last time Hassan would ever save Amir. Even though Hassan knew Amir was doing something so hurtful, he could not allow Baba to know that it was his fault.

Hassan was such a good friend, he acted like a brother to Amir, did anything to make sure he was never in trouble. Although Amir and Hassan both grew up together motherless, under the same roof, this is where their similarities end. Hassan, very mature at his young age remained loyal to Amir throughout the story. He had a strong relationship with his father, Ali, and embraced his religion. In contrast, Amir unsure that God existed had a strained relationship with his father. Amir’s desperate need for his father’s acceptance is the drive to please his father.

Amir sacrifices his friendship with Hassan in his attempts to become closer with his father, and turns into a situation that makes Amir happy at the time but will haunt him forever. Out of the two characters, Hassan is the one who has always done the right thing, even if we see more of Amir’s decisions and feel like Hassan just stands by and does nothing, he really is a force of virtue. No matter how hard Amir tried to forget about the rape and betrayal of Hassan, the dreams kept coming. What if Amir had went with other options?

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