Redemption, Sacrifice, and ForgivenessForgiveness is the key to happiness, but in Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, the key to happiness is the forgiveness of oneself. In this novel, a boy struggles to distinguish where he stands in the world due to a chain of traumatic childhood events; once a scar forms it is impossible to forget, so one must forgive. Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner illustrates the power of redemption, the acknowledgement of sacrifice, and ultimately to accept forgiveness towards oneself.A large majority of the novel’s story line is the journey characters’ take to redeem themselves.
In The Kite Runner it all starts with Amir’s yearn for Baba’s affection. From the death of his mother during childbirth, of which Amir felt was his fault, to growing up a weak, spineless, disappointment of a boy as his father believed, Amir felt the utter disappointment he was to his father and knew he needed to find a way to redeem himself in his father’s eyes. He tried to redeem himself by winning the kite competition (Hosseini 6-23). In addition, the rape of his faithful servant, Hassan, and Amir’s refusal to intervene not only led to the complete dissolution of their relationship, but left Amir with shame and guilt for his actions. Amir’s road to redemption begins with the very famous quote from his father’s best friend, Rahim Khan, “there is a way to be good again Amir” (226). Journeying from America back to his home country to free Hassan’s only son, Sohrab, helped Amir assuage himself from his sin and guilt (227). After Sohrab tries to kill himself because Amir said that he might have to put him back into an orphanage, Amir once again must redeem himself by incorporating him into his life and family (341-371).
Amir’s father, Baba, also spent his lifetime attempting to redeem himself, for he was not one without sin. To ease the guilt he felt about the true nature of Hassan’s parentage, he tried to redeem himself not only by treating Hassan as his own while he lived at his residence; he even went as far as giving plastic surgery to remove Hassan’s cleft palate (45-47). However, Baba never gets to fully redeem himself while he is alive because he never told Amir and Hassan his sin. All people are imperfect human beings, capable of doing harm to one another, so redemption is a lifelong journey all must undertake.Sacrifice is to give with no regret and expect nothing in return. It is part of the Afghan culture to respect all guests as well as give them the best service possible when welcomed into the home.
Amir, an unexpected guest, arrives at Wahid’s home, along with Farid to stay the night. Amir receives a morsel of food, not knowing that it is the family’s last. The family then proclaims that they will not succumb to lowly savages and pardon the tradition for the sake of someone they do not know (241). Another instance in which a sacrifice occurs is when Baba decides to move to America.
Baba understands the risks of coming to America but he would do anything for his ‘only’ son. By taking Amir to America Baba loses everything, his home, his friends, and his identity. Overtime, Amir notices Baba’s suffering and describes it as “a place to mourn for his memories”(129). Baba never creates the impression that he fully assimilates to the American culture; rather, he continues to reminisce in his memories and the familiarity of Afghanistan (129-131). The last and perhaps the most notable illustration of the theme sacrifice in the novel is when Hassan sacrifices himself for Amir’s happiness. Hassan is the sacrificial sheep because he accepts his suffering to protect Amir.
At the end of a kite tournament, Assef wants the last kite and threatens to harm Hassan if he does not hand it over. Hassan stands his ground and as punishment, he is raped; his blood is ‘spilled’ for Amir’s sake. Under these circumstances he is confirming his faithfulness and dependability for having suffered in order to spare Amir (78). Sacrifice is not simply to be altruistic but to give up something of a greater value and to expect nothing in return.Rahim Khan is certain that God forgives all sins and encourages Amir to “forgive his father if he can.
Forgive him if he wishes. But most importantly, to forgive himself”, and this, at long last, starts the beginning of the end to Amir’s journey (302). Back in Afghanistan, the brutal fight between Assef and Amir represents a stepping stone towards forgiveness. He mentions that in this very moment he feels “at peace” and he welcomes the punishment he thought he deserved through Assef because Hassan, being a Hazara, could never chastise a Pashtun (289).
Another example of forgiveness is when Baba forgives Hassan for “stealing” the money and wrist-watch that Amir framed him for. In Baba’s eyes theft is the only sin, but to Amir’s surprise Baba pardons Hassan in hopes that Hassan will continue to stay at his residence (105). Unfortunately, Hassan leaves with Ali to a safer home. Hassan has always had forgiveness in his heart and was able to forgive Amir for the rape long before Amir was able to forgive himself and when his mother arrives at his doorstep he has no hate for the indiscretion his mother made and in return she is forgiven only to pass away shortly from severe wounds (209-211).
Forgiveness must stem from the heart to heal the mind and soul.To access happiness one must understand the power of redemption, the acknowledgement of sacrifice, and the forgiveness of oneself. All people are imperfect human beings, capable of doing harm to one another, so redemption is a lifelong journey all must undertake. Sacrifice is not simply to be altruistic but to give up something of a greater value and to expect nothing in return. Ultimately, forgiveness must stem from the heart to heal the mind and soul.