“A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. ” Baba says these words to Rahim Khan while he is talking about Amir at the end of Chapter 3, and the quotation reveals important traits in both Amir and Baba. With these words, Baba sums up one of Amir’s major character flaws—his cowardice—and Baba shows how much value he places in standing up for what is right. Baba is reluctant to praise Amir, largely because he feels Amir lacks the courage to even stand up for himself, leaving Amir constantly craving Baba’s approval.
Amir’s desire for this approval as well as his cowardice later cause him to let Assef rape Hassan. The quotation also foreshadows the major test of Amir’s character that occurs when he must decide whether to return to Kabul to save Sohrab. As Amir searches for redemption, the question he struggles with is precisely what concerned Baba: does he have the courage and strength to stand up for what is right? “I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world.
Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. ” When Amir says this, toward the end of Chapter 7, he has just watched Assef rape Hassan,and rather than intervene, he ran away. Amir says he aspired to cowardice because, in his estimation, what he did was worse than cowardice. If fear of being hurt by Assef were the main reason he ran, Amir suggests that at least would have been more justified. Instead, he allowed the rape to happen because he wanted the blue kite, which he thought would prove to Baba that he was a winner like him, earning him Baba’s love and approval.
The price of the kite, as Amir says, was Hassan, and this is why Amir calls Hassan the lamb he had to slay. He draws a comparison between Hassan and the lamb sacrificed during the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha to commemorate Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son to God. In this context, Hassan was the sacrifice Amir had to make to get the kite and ultimately to gain Baba’s affection. “That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for he last twenty-six years. ” At the outset of Chapter 1, just as the book begins, Amir writes these words. With them, he hints at the central drama of the story and the reason he is telling it. To the reader, the quotation functions as a teaser. It piques the reader’s interest without revealing exactly what Amir is talking about, and from the time period Amir mentions, twenty-six years, the reader gets an idea of just how important this moment was. As the story unfolds, we realize that the deserted alley Amir refers to is where Hassan was raped, and that this event has largely defined the course of Amir’s life since.
This is what Amir means when he says that the past continues to claw its way out. Try as he might to bury it, he was unable to because his feelings of guilt kept arising. As a result, he figuratively continues peeking into the alley where Assef raped Hassan, literally meaning that he keeps going over the event in his mind. “There is a way to be good again. ” (pg. 2) Rahim Khan said this to Amir to encourage him to help Hassan’s son escape Afghanistan. ”And he got to decide what was black and what was white. You can’t love a person who lives that way without fearing him too.
Maybe even hating him a little. ” (pg 15) This is Amir’s assessment of his father. It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb. ” (pg. 76) Here Amir describes the look on Hassan’s face as Assef and two others rape him. The look reminds Amir of a sacrifical lamb. I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with. ” (pg 165) Amir makes this comment to the reader after Soraya tells him the whole story of how she ran away with a man and shamed her family. He wishes he could tell what secrets he carries around, too. Baba had wrestled bears his whole life . . In the end, a bear had come that he couldn’t best. But even then, he had lost on his own terms. ” (pg 174) Baba has died and Amir sums up his life with these words. The Search For Redemption Amir’s quest to redeem himself makes up the heart of the novel. Early on, Amir strives to redeem himself in Baba’s eyes, primarily because his mother died giving birth to him, and he feels responsible. To redeem himself to Baba, Amir thinks he must win the kite-tournament and bring Baba the losing kite, both of which are inciting incidents that set the rest of the novel in motion.
The more substantial part of Amir’s search for redemption, however, stems from his guilt regarding Hassan. That guilt drives the climactic events of the story, including Amir’s journey to Kabul to find Sohrab and his confrontation with Assef. The moral standard Amir must meet to earn his redemption is set early in the book, when Baba says that a boy who doesn’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. As a boy, Amir fails to stand up for himself. As an adult, he can only redeem himself by proving he has the courage to stand up for what is right.
The Love and Tension Between Fathers and Sons Amir has a very complex relationship with Baba, and as much as Amir loves Baba, he rarely feels Baba fully loves him back. Amir’s desire to win Baba’s love consequently motivates him not to stop Hassan’s rape. Baba has his own difficulty connecting with Amir. He feels guilty treating Amir well when he can’t acknowledge Hassan as his son. As a result, he is hard on Amir, and he can only show his love for Hassan indirectly, by bringing Hassan along when he takes Amir out, for instance, or paying for Hassan’s lip surgery.
In contrast with this, the most loving relationship between father and son we see is that of Hassan and Sohrab. Hassan, however, is killed, and toward the end of the novel we watch Amir trying to become a substitute father to Sohrab. Their relationship experiences its own strains as Sohrab, who is recovering from the loss of his parents and the abuse he suffered, has trouble opening up to Amir. When we got to Kabul, I [Rahim Khan] discovered that Hassan had no intention of moving into the house. “But all these rooms are empty, Hassan jan. No one is going to live in them,” I said. But he would not.
He said it was a matter of ihtiram, a matter of respect. He and Farzana moved their things into the hut in the backyard, where he was born. I pleaded for them to move into one of the guest bedrooms upstairs, but Hassan would hear nothing of it. “What will Amir agha think? ” he said to me. “What will he think when he comes back to Kabul after the war and finds that I have assumed his place in the house? ” Then, in mourning for your father, Hassan wore black for the next forty days. (16. 24-25) You may be confused by the voice here. It’s actually not Amir – Rahim Khan gets one chapter in the book.
Rahim Khan recounts his trip to Hazarajat to find Hassan and bring him back to the house in Kabul. When Hassan does move back to the house with Rahim Khan, he refuses to live where Baba and Amir lived. Does Hassan’s refusal suggest that Hassan is only Amir’s servant and the two never achieved an equal friendship? (Side question: Does Hassan sense – on some unconscious level – Baba’s true relationship to him? Is that why he mourns Baba for forty days? ) I felt like a man sliding down a steep cliff, clutching at shrubs and tangles of brambles and coming up empty-handed. The room was swooping up and down, swaying side to side. Did Hassan know? ” I said through lips that didn’t feel like my own. Rahim Khan closed his eyes. Shook his head. [… ] “Please think, Amir Jan. It was a shameful situation. People would talk. All that a man had back then, all that he was, was his honor, his name, and if people talked… We couldn’t tell anyone, surely you can see that. ” He reached for me, but I shed his hand. Headed for the door. [… ] I opened the door and turned to him. “Why? What can you possibly say to me? I’m thirty-eight years old and I’ve just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie!
What can you possibly say to make things better? Nothing. Not a goddamn thing! ” (17. 57-63) Rahim Khan tells Amir about Baba’s betrayal of him, Hassan, and Ali. Here’s the story: Baba slept with Sanaubar, Ali’s wife, and fathered Hassan. But Baba never told Amir or Hassan about it. We wonder if Rahim Khan’s revelation makes life easier or harder for Amir. On the one hand, Amir sees, for the first time, the similarities between himself and his father. Now he knows he wasn’t the only one walking around with a ton of bricks (a. k. a. secret guilt). But does this really help Amir?
Is it comforting at all to know his father made similar mistakes? Amir’s betrayal of Hassan brings him closer to Baba in ways he couldn’t have predicted. Although the two don’t share the same secrets, they do share the secrecy of guilt. “You know,” Rahim Khan said, “one time, when you weren’t around, your father and I were talking. And you know how he always worried about you in those days. I remember he said to me, ‘Rahim, a boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything. ‘ I wonder, is that what you’ve become? ” (17. 4) Rahim Khan has just asked Amir to rescue Sohrab from Kabul. Amir is initially resistant, so Rahim Khan tries three times to convince Amir to undertake the task. (The task is obviously a redemptive quest because there’s no reason Amir has to rescue Sohrab. Rahim Khan tells Amir he has enough money to get Sohrab, so it seems like anyone could have performed this task. ) Anyway, Rahim Khan gives Amir three reasons why he should rescue Sohrab. One, because your father thought you couldn’t stand up for anything and here’s your chance to prove him wrong. Second, it’s my dying wish that you rescue Sohrab.
And third, Hassan was actually your half-brother, so you owe it to him. We think all these reasons add up and Amir agrees to rescue Sohrab. Of course, the third reason seals the deal, but they’re all important and end up motivating Amir. How could he have lied to me all those years? To Hassan? He had sat me on his lap when I was little, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, There is only one sin. And that is theft… When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. Hadn’t he said those words to me? And now, fifteen years after I’d buried him, I was learning that Baba had been a thief.
And a thief of the worst kind, because the things he’d stolen had been sacred: from me the right to know I had a brother, from Hassan his identity, and from Ali his honor. His nang. His namoos. (18. 5) This is a central moment in the novel because it revises our picture of Baba, and thus our picture of Amir. Amir’s guilt, all these years, has partly resulted from Baba’s very strict adherence to a personal code. Baba’s set of principles include honor (nang), pride (namoos), and loyalty. Now Amir finds out the following: not only did Baba “steal” Ali’s honor and pride, but he stole a sense of self from Hassan, and a brother from Amir.
What are you supposed to do when you find out the single most important figure of authority and morality in your life strayed from his principles? That’s right, go on a personal quest of redemption to rescue your half-nephew from a sadistic, Mein Kampf-toting member of the Taliban. I unfolded the letter. It was written in Farsi. No dots were omitted, no crosses forgotten, no words blurred together – the handwriting was almost childlike in its neatness. (17. 7)| First, it’s amazing that Hassan learns how to read and write as an adult. But even more amazing is the aura of innocence still surrounding Hassan.
Hassan lives through a tragic attack at a young age. His best friend, Amir, betrays him. He and his father leave their home. War comes to Afghanistan. But through all this, Hassan holds onto something like innocence. Chapter 16 – 17 Going to Kabul becomes a test of Amir’s honor, loyalty, and manhood. Amir is clearly afraid to go. He knows the city is extremely dangerous, and in returning there he would risk everything he has, including his life and the welfare of his family. Kabul will also undoubtedly recall memories of Hassan and his past that Amir would rather not confront.
Rahim Khan recognizes that the decision is a difficult one for Amir. To convince him, he brings up the conversation he once had with Baba, when Baba said he feared that Amir would not be able to stand up to anything as a man if he could not stand up for himself as a boy. Amir concedes that Baba may have been right. Then Rahim Khan reveals that Ali was not Hassan’s father, and implies that Hassan was, in fact, Baba’s child. Hassan and Amir, then, would be half-brothers, and Sohrab would be Amir’s nephew, obligating Amir further to find the boy. The dilemma brings together the tensions Amir has struggled with in the novel.
By rescuing Sohrab, Amir can become the man that Baba always wanted him to be, and he can finally atone for the ways he failed Hassan as a friend. “Do you know what I will tell Daoud Khan the next time he comes to our house for dinner? ” Assef said. “I’m going to have a little chat with him, man to man, mard to mard. Tell him what I told my mother. About Hitler. Now, there was a leader. A great leader. A man with vision. I’ll tell Daoud Khan to remember that if they had let Hitler finish what he had started, the world be a better place now. ” (Hosseini 43) Assef claims that Hitler was his role model.
He has a same point of view as Hitler has. He wants the country to be one race, one religion and one belief. This is also related to the holocaust in WWII. We all know that Hitler’s actions fund the worst actions in human society because he started the WWII. He was also racist against people who have different beliefs and race. Similarly, Assef copied Hitler and isolated the Hazaras from the rest of the country. This prove that his attitude toward the country and those Hazaras end him up with suffering the serious consequences. Assef and Hitler‘s actions are the worst actions in human. His blue eyes flicked to Hassan. Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, not this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood. ” He made a sweeping, grandiose gesture with his hands. “Afghanistan for Pashtuns, I say. That’s my vision. ” This is a significant because this quote does a good job in terms of portraying Assef’s attitude toward those Hazaras. Assef said this when he is harassing Hassan. We all know that Amir was put in a situation where he has to decide whether he has to stand up for himself or following the belief of Pashtun bully.
Assef harassed Hassan and Amir for not following their beliefs and he eventually joined Taliban and killed tons of Hazaras. This harassment due to different religion lead to the worst action the Taliban has done and this lead to the disunity of the country. Assef slipped on the brass knuckles. Gave me an icy look. “You’re part of the problem, Amir. If idiots like you and your father didn’t take these people in, we’d be rid of them by now. They’d all just go rot in Hazarajat where they belong. You’re a disgrace to Afghanistan. ”
This quote indirectly tells us that Assef’s attitude will lead Afghanistan to downfall and his point of view will drive him forward to join the Taliban to kill those Hazaras. He thinks Pashtun who spend time with the people with a different religion are disgrace to Afghanistan. His point of view is the same as Hitlers. He think those Hazaras should be always oppressed and Afghanistan is the land only for Pashtun. This is an unfair way of differentiating people. Afghanistan will have the potential to become more united without Taliban’s prejudice and the attitudes toward people with different religion.