Discuss the changes in Baba's and Amir's relationship.
When Amir and Baba move to the States, their relationship changes and Amir begins to view his father as a more complex man. Discuss the changes in their relationship. Do you see the changes in Baba as tragic or positive?
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I think this is one of the weaknesses of the novel: the change from adoration and fear of Baba while Amir was in Afghanistan, to an almost patronizing view of Baba as he struggles to establish himself in America. Baba goes from being a vibrant and complex character capable of much reader sympathy to being a cardboard version of his former powerful self. This change is never convincingly shown, though it happens. Baba goes from a 'round' character to being a 'flat' character. It is as if he has served the writer's purpose, in Afghanistan, but remains as a kind of embarrassment now that they are in America. No longer useful to the story, he is 'killed off' rather quickly after being effectively killed of as a living, breathing character. It should be his father's moral failures that 'humanize' him, but it seems in reality even more the fact that he now works in a gas station. Amir is such a mean character that he is almost glad that his father has fallen, never mind that the man is working himself to death to pay to educate Amir and give him an aristocratic wedding. It is obscene that Amir accepts the wedding, since he is, more than his father, an American now. He perhaps should have at least entertained the possibility of not allowing his father to spend so much money. His father literally 'dies' for Amir, and Amir seems much too comfortable with this. He forgets Baba too soon, before he has died.
First of all, I have to disagree with the labeling of Amir as "such a mean character." I think his relationship with his father is very human. Who has not struggled with a parent or parental figure in some way, especially when trying to please them or when simply trying to communicate with them?
I think that, yes, while Baba serves the author's purpose in one way while the setting is in Afghanistan, that, although this purpose changes, Baba continues to serve a purpose when the setting shifts to America. The new purpose on the author's part, as I see it, is to show the changing relationship between father and son as they both age, especially as they both age in a new world, a world where the son is more "in control" because of language and because of an easier adaption to the new culture than his father. As Amir states in the novel, America was a place to start fresh for him, where it was not nearly so good for his father. This is not Amir's fault, however. They had to escape, it was Baba's decision, and only in a new land, where they are perhaps on more equal footing, can they come to terms with their relationship.
Also, I would disagree that Amir "forgets Baba." He mourns for his father, and, although Baba dies, the details Amir learns about Baba from Rahim Khan later in the novel still serve to move the novel forward and impact this father/son relationship.
Back to the posted topic, I see the changes in Baba as both tragic and positive. He comes around to loving his son . . . we see a more human Baba, capable of failings and imperfections. And what's important is that Amir sees this new Baba as well.
In regards to the wedding, I do not think it was selfish of Amir to get married, or to accept a wedding from Baba. It would be customary for such a wedding to take place in their culture, and as a highly respected leader of his peers, Baba is too proud a character to not throw this kind of wedding. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure the type of wedding Amir has would be the generally expected type of wedding. Also, to me, there is no indication in the text that Baba resents having spent the money on the wedding or that it was "aristocratic." I also don't think there is enough evidence to suggest that Baba "literally 'dies' for Amir."
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