A remains stagnant in his character and loyalty

A prominent theme in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is how the abuse of power in personal relationships can damage both the abused and the abuser. Amir allows himself to be psychologically damaged by his relationship with this Father’s so that he can avoid being physically damaged whereas, Hassan allows himself to be physically damaged by his relationship with Amir in order to save his character. The harm done to these characters differs from Amir’s inner damage to Hassan’s bodily damage. How the characters deal with this pain contrasts as Hassan is able to accept what has happened to him and Amir cannot. Amir ends up growing from this pain and developing a healthy relationship with his father whereas Hassan remains stagnant in his character and loyalty to Amir. These factors demonstrate the results of different damages caused by the relationships one is close to. Harm can be both physical and psychological in nature, often physical damage also has an effect on one’s mental health as well and in some case, psychological damage can lead to self-harm or physical damage. Amir’s need for approval from his father is a result of Baba’s disconnection with Amir. It is this desire of approval that leads to the psychological damage of Amir’s decisions. As Amir witnesses the confrontation between Hassan and Assef, he has the chance to stop said conflict by telling Hassan to give up the Kite. “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,” (Hosseini 82). Amir’s choice to not do anything is driven by his longing to please his father and in doing so faces the consequences of guilt until he can atone for his sins. Amir knows how loyal Hassan is to him and abuses this loyalty for his personal interests. As a result of this Hassan is often physically damaged because of Amir’s choices. Hassan’s rape occurred because of the loyalty he showed to Amir. “I could see the fear creeping into Hassan’s eyes, but he shook his head. ‘Amir agha won the tournament and I ran this kite for him. I ran it fairly. This is his kite,” (Hosseini 77). Just like the lambs slaughtered during Eid al-Adha, Hassan’s sacrificial action is made for the sake of Amir’s pride, which in Hassan’s eyes is a higher purpose. Amir also abuses his power in maybe one of the most immoral ways. “My favourite part of reading to Hassan was when we came across a big word that he didn’t know. I’d tease him, expose his ignorance. One time I was reading him a Mullah Nasruddin story and he stopped me ‘What does that word mean?’… ‘Well, everyone in my school knows what it means,’ I said. ‘Let’s see. Imbecile. It means smart, intelligent’… I would always feel guilty about it later. So I’d try to make up for it by giving him one of my old shirts or a broken toy. I would tell myself that was amends enough for a harmless prank,” (Hosseini 30-31). Although it may seem like a harmless joke in this context, it can have terrible consequences if the words are harmful enough and the people believe them. Amir uses his power to deceive someone who looks up to him and will believe what he has to say. The events leading to Hassan’s death can also be attributed to the loyalty he showed to Amir and Amir’s betrayal of that loyalty. Amir reflects upon this when he learns of Hassan’s death “I had driven Hassan and Ali out of the house. Was it too far-fetched to imagine that things might have turned out differently If I hadn’t? Maybe Baba would have brought them along to America. Maybe Hassan would have had a home of his own now, a job, a family, a life in a country where no one else cared that he was a Hazara,” (Hosseini 238). Although this is just a scenario, it is not hard to believe considering Baba’s connection to Hassan and Ali that He would take them to America and if so would’ve saved them from oppression, poverty and the Taliban’s that killed Hassan. The difference between how Amir and Hassan deal with their pain is reflective of how content they are with life. Hassan forgives Amir for the actions he took to betray him, wanting to move on with their lives so they can be happy again. “To my dismay, Hassan kept trying to rekindle things between us” asking if Amir wanted to go the baker “‘It’s a sunny day,’ he said ‘I can see that.’ ‘Might be fun to go for a walk.’ ‘You go.’ ‘I wish you’d come along,'” (Hosseini 93). It is revealed later on that Hassan knew Amir had seen him get raped and did nothing, but despite this Hassan is happy to still hang out with Amir. Throughout Hassan’s life, he is able to accept his pain and leads a happy, fulfilled life despite living in poverty and oppression. “He was squinting and smiling at the camera, showing a pair of missing front teeth. Even in this blurry Polaroid, the man in the chapan exuded a sense of self-assuredness, of ease. It as in the way he stood, his feet slightly apart, his arms comfortably crossed on his chest, his head tilted a little toward the sun. Mostly it was in the way he smiled. Looking at the photo, one might have concluded that this was a man who thought the world had been good to him,” (Hosseini 227). The physical pain doesn’t seem to affect Hassan’s joy in life in the long term as he is able to stand by the actions he took. Amir, on the other hand, cannot let go and accept the choices he made, being tormented by his psychological pain. Even once Amir get’s his father’s acceptance after the kite tournament, Amir doesn’t feel complete. “That should have been fun, spending a day like that with Baba, hearing his stories. 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 feet into,” (Hosseini 90). Despite getting what he wanted by making the choice to leave Hassan, Amir can’t accept his own actions and is being denied happiness because of it. Amir’s privileged lifestyle gives him no comfort and even puts more guilt onto his conscience. “I ripped open box after box of presents… I knew I’d never spend the money or listen to the radio…I didn’t want any of it-it was all blood money,” (Hosseini 107). Amir’s guilt for his actions prevents him from enjoying any of the luxuries of his privileged lifestyle. Conflict and pain often leads to the growth of one’s character. This is true when it comes to Amir’s growth however surprisingly not to Hassan. Hassan’s character never changes throughout the book despite the tremendous amount of pain he faced. He is completely selfless, forgiving, brave, and utterly loyal to Amir. Hassan never breaks his loyalty to Amir even when he knows Amir has betrayed him. When Amir frames Hassan and Ali for stealing his money and watch, Baba questions them. “‘Did you steal that money? Did you steal that watch, Hassan?’ Hassan’s reply was a single word, delivered in a thin, raspy voice, ‘Yes,'” (Hosseini 111). This act of devotion meant that Hassan and Ali would leave the hospitality of Baba’s family. Hassan never changes, even his last act of sacrifice was to protest against the Taliban taking Baba’s old home should Rahim Khan, or Amir return. As Rahim explains “They told Hassan they would be moving in to supposedly keep it safe until I return. Hassan protested again. So they took him to the street… and ordered him to kneel…and shot him in the back of the head,” (Hosseini 231). From the day, he was born to the day he died Hassan’s character does not change. For most of his life, Amir is selfish, cowardly and depends on others. Often, he is jealous of the attention Baba gives to Hassan because Hassan has more of the attributes that fit Baba’s perception of how a boy should be. While talking about his son with Rahim Khan, Baba points out “Self-defense has nothing to do with meanness. You know what always happens when the neighbourhood boys tease him? Hassan steps in and fends them off. I’ve seen it with my own eye. And when they come home, I say to him, ‘How did Hassan get the scrape on his face?’ And he says, ‘He fell down,’ I’m telling you, Rahim, there is something missing in that boy,” (Hosseini 24). Amir’s tormenting relationship with his father pangs him with jealousy and self-disappointment. However, as he grows he is able to build a better relationship with his father and eventually atones for his sins by facing the physical pain that he was too coward to face as a child. Amir is able to connect with his father while he is in America because they are no longer living a privileged lifestyle compared to those around them, meaning Amir has to face the challenges that he did not have to deal with as a child and proves himself to Baba. Amir is given an opportunity to make up for his past mistakes, be more understanding and generous and is able to stand up for himself. In order to save Hassan’s son, Amir has to confront his childhood bully, and now Taliban Official, Assef. “‘WHAT’S SO FUNNY?’ Assef bellowed. Another rib snapped, this time left lower. What was so funny was that, for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace… My body was broken-just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later-but I felt healed. Healed at last,” (Hosseini 303). Finally standing up for both himself and another was something he could not do before, and although he suffers immense physical damage from their fight, he feels relieved and finally free from the guilt that plagued him all these years. Amir also no longer uses his wealth and power to abuse or manipulate, Amir leaves money for his driver’s as well as his own watch to the driver’s son, when he sees the poverty they are living in. “Earlier that morning, when I was certain no one was looking, I did something I had done twenty-six years earlier: I planted a fistful of crumpled money under a mattress,” (Hosseini 254). This is the same action as to when he planted the money under Hassan’s bed but it shows his change in motive and character. He hid the money under Hassan’s bed for his own selfish reasons, whereas he hid the money under Farid’s bed so that Farid could feed his family. If one accepts pain from the start, it is hard to grow one’s character from it, however if one learns to accept the pain by changing, they can grow a great deal from it. Although Amir and Hassan are completely different characters, they both suffer from the selfish acts in the relationships that connect and surround them. How they suffer differs a great deal, however. As Hassan faces the physical consequences of Amir’s actions, Amir faces the consequences of Baba and his own actions through torment and guilt. Hassan is able to accept the pain that he deals with and can live out a happy life because he is content with his actions, whereas Amir disapproves of the choices he made and cannot face them, leaving him with a guilty conscience and a sense of incompleteness even when he gets what he wants. Finally, Hassan’s character remains the same throughout his life despite the pain it causes him, unlike Amir who’s unacceptance of the psychological torment forces him to face his mistakes and grow from them. These are all the result of the selfish and selfless motives in close relationships and the damage that their actions entail.

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