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Individuals who are part of relationships and friendships go through challenges and triumphs, some may even break their trust and moral code resulting in betrayal. Throughout the novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini, explores the notion of betrayal and the impact it has on various relationships.
The novel follows the protagonist, Amir, and his struggle to deal with guilt after he betrays his best friend, Hassan. Amir faces a turning point in his relationship with Hassan where he is tested to betray their friendship: “I had one last chance to make a decision. One final opportunity to decide who I was going to be. I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan- the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past- and except for that whatever would happen to me. Or I could run. In the end, I ran”(82). This is one of the major turning points in the novel, Amir knows Hassan is getting brutally beaten and sexually assaulted in the alley by Assef and his friends. Instead of standing up to Assef, Amir watches from a distance and prays Hassan does not see him, then runs home. Amir later feels nothing but guilt, embarrassment, and emptiness, he wants to be punished for his actions. He does not want to play with Hassan for this reason, and Hassan does not know why. Hassan’s past assault and struggle with guilt delays Amir’s search for redemption throughout the novel.
Amir and Baba, are father and son, whose bonds are further tested with Baba’s betrayal and life-long family secret: “Baba was a thief, of the worse kind, because the things he’d stolen had been sacred: from me the right to know I had a brother, from Hassan his identity, and from Ali his honor” (237). Amir learns that Baba has betrayed Ali, his servant, and friend, Ali was not Hassan’s biological father it was Baba and he kept this from his family. Amir feels betrayed by his father, he feels extremely guilty and carries a heavier burden of guilt, now knowing that Hassan is his brother. The author, Khaled Hosseini makes the characters of Baba and Amir appear as opposing figures, with Baba being a noble man and Amir being the child who makes mistakes. Although the connection between the two is the same, they both lied for decades, betraying the people they love. Sohrab, Hassan’s son, faces betrayal from Amir as he goes back on his word: “‘You promised you’d never put me in one of those places Amir agha,” he said. His voice was breaking, tears pooling in his eyes. I felt like a prick.”(358)
Amir’s final act of betrayal in the novel occurs when he breaks his promise to Sohrab. Amir promises that Sohrab can come to live with him and his wife back in California so he will never have to fear being in an orphanage again. Amir is struggling to get Sohrab adopted as he is not a legal orphan. This betrayal has a significant impact on Sohrab’s life as he later attempts suicide when Amir does not live up to his promise. Amir’s betrayal of Sohrab is almost as though he is double-crossing Hassan once more. Disloyalty in relationships can leave negative impacts on everyone involved, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Seeking redemption allows Amir to relieve his guilt from having betrayed his best friend Hassan. Amir takes Sohrab’s kite running, this event allows him to recall his father-son relationship with Baba when he was a child. Amir can emotionally return to his innocent carefree childhood with Hassan and their kite running days. Amir is happy now that he is a father to Sohrab, as he releases his burdens of guilt. Although relationships face many challenges, it is important to seek forgiveness to release guilt and be able to positively move forward in upcoming relationships.