Khaled Hosseini has written “The Kite Runner”, a novel set in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1975. Our story is narrated by the main character Amir. He is retelling the story of his childhood growing up with his best friend in Kabul. Amir has grown up living in a luxury home in Kabul, he is known as a high caste, Pashtun, Sunni Muslim, along with his father, Baba who works as a successful businessman. Amir’s best friend, Hassan and his father Ali work as servants to Amir’s family, they are what is known as low caste, Hazara, Shia Muslims.
In this essay, I am going to be discussing how the main character Amir’s experiences throughout the novel help to reveal the idea of betrayal. Betrayal is a reoccurring theme in Amir’s life, it follows him throughout childhood into to adulthood. The experiences that happen in Amir’s life beginning with the rape of his best friend Hassan by Assef. Later on, we witness Amir trying to force Hassan out of his life for good. And the last event that shows the theme of betrayal is Amir finding out that his father Baba had been keeping a lifelong secret that is revealed after his passing.
At the beginning of the story, we witness an event that changes the friendship between Amir and Hassan forever and results in a continuous line of future betrayals. The experience that Hassan goes through by the rape from Assef while his best friend Amir watches, too scared to help or save his friend, ends in the biggest betrayal in the novel. “I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in the world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba.” This event that both Hassan and Amir encounter reveals to the reader how Amir truly views their friendship after the rape, Amir’s mindset is altered, he believes to think that Hassan is nothing more than an object ready to be sold, he no longer sees them as being equals. Through this betrayal, the author’s intention was to show that not only is Amir betraying and abandoning his friend. Who is unconditionally loyal and devoted to him, but he goes about it in a very selfish and egotistic. Amir’s fears of Assef and being beaten and fought lead him to make a grave decision to abandon his friend during his time of need in the rape and violence to save himself. This whole scene is set around the idea of betrayal. As the reader, this scene is crucial to the story as it shows us the life that many people in countries like Afghanistan live, the common occurrences of rapes and violence that happen. This novel is written to show the differences between cultures around the world and the events that often happen, which cause people to act in different ways than we as the reader would. For example, Amir betraying Hassan again in an attempt to rid him from his life. In the society we live in today this wouldn’t be considered normal however for people living in Afghanistan and other similar countries especially during the time when this novel was written this is considered everyday life. The author really used the events that occur throughout this novel that showcase the idea of betrayal to show the privilege that the majority of the world have it captures the contrast between privilege and survival.
The theme of betrayal is once again looked at later on in the novel when Amir attempts to eliminate Hassan out of his life for good. After the first event of Hassan’s the raping, Amir struggles to live his everyday life knowing what he did to his so-called best friend, sacrificing Hassan to save himself. To try to rid himself of the guilt of his betrayal, Amir goes to the lengths of accusing Hassan of theft in an attempt to get rid of Hassan and his father Ali. “Then I understood: this was Hassan’s last sacrifice for me. He knew I’d seen everything in the alleyway, that I’d stood there and done nothing. He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time.” This quote teaches the reader about the true meaning of friendship, Hassan will go through anything to stay loyal to his Amir, he knew of the first betrayal, he knew Amir falsely accused him of theft, Hassan chose to admit to the accusation and accept the punishment. The author’s intention in this scene was to show the difference between friendship and betrayal and how two different characters who have shown to be very similar at the beginning of the novel can change so drastically to become the opposite of themselves. Hassan has been shown to stay loyal and a true friend throughout. Amir, on the other hand, we can see that the instant before the first betrayal he changed, he was no longer there for Hassan every choice he made from that moment on was to save himself. This is another event that the author has used in the text to showcase the difference in lifestyles between Afghanistan to the rest of the world.
The last experience that Amir goes through in his life that shows the theme of betrayal involves his father Baba. We learn that later on in the novel Baba had been keeping a secret from Amir for his whole life, one that would change the way he thought about both his father and his past betrayals as a child. The secret is exposed after Baba’s passing. Amir learns that the man he once looked up to, the man he called his role model had betrayed him in a way that could never be fixed. This is a betrayal of both Amir and Ali as his father kept it a secret from both of them. “Baba and I were more alike than id even known we had both betrayed people who would have given their lives for us.” The author’s intention throughout this scene was to show the similarities of Amir and Baba through the betrayals of both of them. This is also a betrayal of Hassan as he has been seen as nothing more than a servant to his true father Baba. The author has used this event to show that betrayal not only originates from Amir but also his father, a close companion for his entire life. The author placed huge events into the novel that all lead to betrayal, to help the reader create an idea about the acts and tragedies that occurred in Afghanistan in 1975.
After Amir’s life or experiencing his own betrayals and the betrayals of others we can see that these events have shaped him to become the man he is today. The author has placed these three events (the rape, Baba’s affair, Amir getting rid of Hassan) to showcase the evident theme of betrayal in Amir’s life. As the reader, we get the idea that for Amir, betrayal is a way of solving the problem. This is the case for the rape and for accusing Hassan of theft. Khaled Hosseini has taught the reader about the culture of Afghanistan and the casualties the often occur that lead to the betrayal of family and friendship. In the end, we learn that all these events in Amir’s life lead to betrayal.