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Many individuals often feel guilty for a choice they
make in life. This guilt that exists in one’s self, can have a tremendous
impact on their entire life. Guilt has the incredible power to change an
individual’s perspective and cause them to make irrational decisions. The Kite
Runner, written by Khaled Hosseini, is a world-renowned novel published in 2003
that tells the story of a young boy named Amir who finds himself guilty of
having failed to fight a boy who raped his friend. One of the main themes
Hosseini emphasizes in the novel, is the powerful affect of guilt on one’s self.
Throughout the novel, different characters such as Amir, Sanubar and Baba found
themselves guilty at one point in the novel for making a choice they considered
to be wrong. Hosseni implies two different types of guilt characters face in
the Kite Runner, the first being misplaced guilt in which individuals feel
guilty when they aren’t responsible for the events they feel guilty for. The
other type of guilt expressed in this book is guilt that individuals rightly
feel because of their own actions or inactions that they are responsible
for.  The three characters exhibhit a
variety of the two types of guilt described above. The guilt expressed by these
characters affected their future decisions and the entirety of the plot.  The Kite Runner demonstrates that guilt can
have an immense effect on one’s actions, thoughts and decisions.


The Kite Runner demonstrates the theme of guilt
through the main character, Amir. In the case of Amir, one decision affected
his actions for the rest of his life. In the beginning of the story, Amir
observes his close friend, Hassan, get bullied by an older boy named
Aseef.  Amir was hesitant between making
the decision of running away or intervening. “In the end, Amir decided to run
and not stand up for Hassan. Amir’s guilt developed from the moment he decided
to run away from the alley. However, the hidden message Hosseni implies
throughout the novel, is misplaced guilt, as even if Amir intervened and stood
up for Hassan, he would stand no chance to the older boy, Aseef. As a result,
Amir unnecessarily feels guilty about what he did, without realizing that he
wouldn’t have made a difference in the first place.  This one decision left a stain on Amir for
the next thirty years. A quote on pg. 88 states “I wish someone would wake me
up, so I wouldn’t have to live with this lie anymore” This quote explains the
guilt that existed within Amir after seeing what happened to Hassan. Throughout
the text, Amir finds himself seeking opportunities to redeem himself for his descsion
of not intervening in the situation when Hassan was getting bullied. An example
is when Amir tries throwing pomegranates at Hassan, as an attempt to get Hassan
to fight back and punish Amir. However, Hassan refused to throw any
pomegranates at Amir. A quote on pg.94 states “I wanted Hassan to fight me back
for the way I failed him” This quote indicates that Amir wanted Hassan to fight
him back, so he could have the “punishment he craved” (93) This demonstrates
that Amir wanted to feel the act of being punished for his wrongdoing, similar
to how Hassan was punished due to Amir’s apparent mistake. The guilt carried on
with Amir into his adulthood as he embarked on different journeys to seek
redemption for the one decision he made as a kid. An example is when Amir
travels to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan’s orphaned son from the harsh circumstances
he was forced to face in Kabul. This is one example of many of how Amir attempts
to pursue different opportunities to free himself of his own guilt for the
decision he made 20 years ago. Amir’s guilt plagued his entire life and many of
his future actions which revolved around his guilt from one decision.

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Another character in Hosseini’s Kite Runner that
demonstrates the effect of guilt on one’s self is Baba. Similar to Amir, Baba’s
own sense of guilt affects many of his decisions. Contrary to his actions in
the novel, Baba believed that lying was an extremely bad act, as Baba stated on
page.223 “when someone lied, they stole away someone’s right to the truth.”  However, as the novel progressed, Baba is
forced to lie to many other characters such as Amir and Hassan. Near the
conclusion of the novel, the reader realizes that Amir is Hassan’s half brother
and that Hassan is Baba’s biological father. However, Baba never reveals that
information to neither Amir nor Hassan, but instead keeps it as a secret to
himself, committing the only sin that mattered to Baba. Baba’s guilt caused him
to forcibly act ashamed of Amir for absolutely nothing. On page 19 Baba stated,
“there’s always something missing with my son.” This quote indicates that Baba
always felt something wrong with Amir and thus was always critical of Amir.
Baba’s guilt for not being a good father to his biological son, Hassan, led him
to give preferential treatment for Hassan while still having the appearance as
a man with one son. Baba didn’t want to feel the remorse for giving Amir the
luxurious life over his legitimate son, Hassan. There are many examples in the
text that demonstate how Baba’s guilt forces him towards lying to his
legitimate son. An example from the text is during chapter 8, when Hassan
steals Amir’s birthday money and Baba commits the one sin that mattered to him,
by forgiving Hassan.  Baba’s guilt of
lying to his illegitimate son, Amir, and hiding the truth from his legitimate
son, Hassan, forced him to commit the only sin that mattered to him,
demonstrating guilt’s impact on one’s self.


Another character affected by guilt is Sanubar.
Sanubar’s guilt affects many of her decisions and is the driving force of
nearly all her actions. After giving birth to Hassan, Sanubar left her family
with a group of singers, leaving her family in the dust. Later in the story,
the text reveals that Hassan is Baba’s biological son, indicating that Saubar
and Baba committed infidelity. Sanubar felt guilty as she was scared if the
truth ever came out that she and Baba committed adultery. As a result,
Sanubar’s guilt forces her to leave her son. A quote on page 18 states “She
left Hassan soon after she was done giving birth.” This quote implies that
Sanubar’s guilt affected her decision to quickly leave her family. This one
descison, left a stain on Sanubar for the rest of her life. Thirty years later,
Sanubar, in her old age with an assortment of injuries, decided to go to
Hassan’s house and beg for forgiveness for the decision she made of leaving
Hassan. A quote on page 270 states “(I) beg forgiveness. (I) made a mistake
when I left you.” This quote indicates how regretful Sanubar felt after leaving
Hassan, demonstrating guilt’s power on one’s thoughts.  Sanubar even went to the point of begging
Allah for forgiveness. Sanubar’s guilt for leaving Hassan, forced her to come
back to Hassan to be a good mother in his life. The guilt that stemmed from one
decision that Sanubar made of leaving Hassan, affected nearly all of her
actions and decisions she makes throughout the novel.
















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