The Kite Runner: A Journey Towards Atonement

2295 words - 9 pages

“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” (Hosseini). In The Kite Runner, Hosseini shares Amir’s journey to atonement. As Amir states, he was unable to bury his past, similar to his father, Baba, who spent the majority of his life haunted by his sins. While both father and son are consumed by guilt, the way in which they atone for their iniquities is dissimilar. While Baba attempts to live his life according to the Afghan saying, “ Life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end...crisis or catharsis, moving forward like a slow, dusty caravan of kochis [nomads]” (Hosseini 356), Amir strays from this traditional perspective. Baba chose to continue his life unmindful of his past, while Amir, eventually decides to confront his. Although both Baba and Amir have acted immorally, the choices they make find redemption affect the success of their individual attempts. In the novel, Amir’s quest for atonement is more effective than Baba’s because he acts virtuously, while his father, acts selfishly. Ultimately, Amir is the more successful of the two because, in opposition to Baba, he seeks holistic atonement and is willing to make sacrifices to achieve redemption.
In The Kite Runner, readers learn holistic atonement can only be achieved when peace is made with God, the people you have hurt, and yourself. Although Afghanistan is a largely religious country, Baba is portrayed as decidedly secular. At the beginning of the novel, Amir questions Baba about sin, and through this conversation, Baba reveals his lack of faith. He says, “if there is a God out there, then I would hope he has more important things to attend to than my drinking scotch or eating pork” (Hosseini 18). Baba also calls the mullah’s “bearded idiots” (Hosseini 17), illustrating his indifference to religion. Baba’s lack of faith prevents him from finding atonement through God. Moreover, Baba is unable to find holistic atonement because he fails to admit and reconcile his sins to those who are affected by them. Although Baba preforms small deeds to redeem himself, such as providing cosmetic surgery to Hassan, he fails acknowledge him as his son, which would allow Baba to achieve true atonement. Evidently, Baba’s actions illustrate he only sought personal redemption. For instance, in an effort to ease his guilt, Baba constructed an orphanage in Kabul. While this initially depicted Baba as selfless, it is later discovered this act of charity is preformed predominantly to alleviate his guilt. Rahim Khan later tells Amir, “ I think everything he did, feeding the poor, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself” (Hosseini 302). Although, as Rahim Khan also says, “real good was born from your father’s guilt” (Hosseini 302), Baba never achieved holistic atonement because he failed to make peace with Ali, Hassan and Amir. Opposed to amending his sins to the people directly...

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