Guilt in the Kite Runner
By not facing the past, internal conflict becomes prevalent in life and can prevent one from moving forward. In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir lives in Kabul, Afghanistan with his father, Hassan, and Ali during 1963-1981. Hassan and Amir grew up with each other and were each other’s best friends, but when the bully Assef raped Hassan, both of their lives changed. In his novel, Hosseini explores the internal conflicts of jealousy and guilt, ultimately portraying how neglecting emotions can lead to damaging one’s self and their relationships with others.
From the start of the novel, it is evident that the bond between Hassan and Baba leads to Amir’s unrelenting jealousy. At Gharga Lake, Baba showered Hassan with attention but gave Amir close to none: “Baba was there, watching, and he patted Hassan on the back. Even put his arm around his shoulder” (Hosseini 14). Amir desires a strong relationship with his father since the strength of their bond was next to nothing in comparison to Baba and Hassan, and his jealousy later prevented him from taking action when it was necessary. Amir sends Hassan off to find the kite they had just cut, hoping to present it to Baba as a way to earn his pride; however, when Amir sets off to find Hassan, he sees him defending the kite against Assef. The first thing Amir worries about is the kite: “Behind him, sitting on piles of scrap and rubble, was the blue kite. My key to Baba’s heart” (Hosseini 71). Amir is so focused on the relationship between him and his father that he forgets how the event could impact others. Out of fear and his own selfish desire, he allows Assef to rape his best friend, and he finally has the bond he yearned for for so long. Although Amir finally had his way. he realized he still wasn’t content, noting, “I finally had what I wanted all those years. Except now that I had it, I felt as empty as this unkempt pool I was dangling my legs into” (Hosseini 85). Amir noticed he wasn’t enjoying the things he had craved and worked for for many years, which caused him to feel guilty for the things he did. This also made him recognize that his friend’s sacrifice was not worth it in the end, which produced his guilt and shame. Amir’s jealousy of Hassan and his father caused him internal conflicts, and this later led to another kind of internal conflict: guilt.
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Another source of internal conflict for Amir is his overwhelming guilt. According to “The Difference Between Guilt and Shame”, written by Joseph Burgo, shame is defined about how a person feels about their own actions while guilt relates to others. Amir’s guilt tortures him because of what his envy cost his best friend. One night, he dreams of a man in a vest shooting a harelipped man who is kneeling on the floor, and he says, “I am the man in the herringbone vest” (Hosseini 240). His nightmare of him shooting a harelipped man represented how he is haunted by the fact that he cost Hassan his purity and innocence, and his guilt followed him all his life and made Amir afraid to face his past. Many years later, Rahim Kahn offered him a chance to redeem himself and try to right the past wrongs: “There’s a way to be good again” (Hosseini 2). Amir is handed the opportunity to save Hassan’s son, but he stopped by his inner turmoil. He spent many years trying to run away from his past and is given the opportunity to face it and fix it; however, his fear stops him from doing what he needs to do. His apprehension stems from the guilt that started all those years ago and causes him inner conflict when faced with the option of making things right. Guilt disables people from moving forward and trying to fix what they’ve done.
In conclusion, by demonstrating Amir’s struggles with jealousy and guilt, Hosseini ultimately illustrates that people need to face their past head on instead of avoiding the consequence of their actions. When Amir didn’t try to change to make up for the past and attempted to push it off, he was unable to move on for many years. The same thing can be said for those who choose to wallow in their regrets instead of fixing what could be fixed. This shows why internal conflicts are one of the biggest barriers that prevent people from moving forward.