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For Amir, Chapter 23 is a time of emotional discovery and physical recovery as his beaten body mends in the Peshawar hospital. He fades in and out of consciousness for two days, and he imagines that the faces he sees are ones from the past. During one of his dreams, he imagines Baba wrestling the bear in the Sulaiman Mountains. But it is not Baba
... sitting on the bear's chest, his fingers digging in its snout. He looks up at me and I see. He's me. I am wrestling the bear.
The dream is symbolic of the battle he has had with Assef and how, like Baba, he has conquered the powerful beast. It is also symbolic of the mixed feelings he has about both his father and himself--a victorious act that has resulted in the partial atonement for his past sins.
Amir also discovers that he, too, will be the bearer of not only emotional but physical scars like nearly every other character in the novel. But the most telling scar is the one that holds his lip together. He now resembles Hassan more than ever:
The impact had cut your upper lip in two, he had said, clean down the middle. Clean down the middle. Like a harelip.
The farewell letter from Rahim Khan is an emotional one, but in it he discovers that his old friend has not been entirely truthful with him. When Amir asks Fahid "for one more favor," Farid answers in the same manner that Hassan had always responded.
"For you a thousand times over," Farid said.
And, just like that, I was crying.
But the favor that Amir asks--for Farid to find the location of Thomas and Betty Caldwell, the people who are to take care of Sohrab--proves an impossible task. The names are fictitious--"they never existed." And as Amir dreams again on the way to Islamabad, he remembers his father's saying and Rahim's promise--
When you tell a lie, you steal a man's right to the truth. Rahim on the phone, telling me there was a way to be good again. A way to be good again...,
and he wonders if the words are really meant to be.
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