There are a variety of themes within the story but one predominant theme would be that of sacrifice and redemption. The relationship between Hassan and Amir features much sacrifice, especially on the part of Hassan, who does everything to keep Amir safe and comfortable. Hassan goes through so much trouble due to his loyalty to his friend, who is also actually his brother. While running a kite that Amir won, Hassan encounters Assef, the neighborhood bully. Assef asked for the kite but Hassan resisted knowing well that nothing good would come out of his resistance, and at this point he sacrificed himself to please Amir.
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 stepped up for me all those times in the past—and accept whatever would happen to me. Or I could run.
Hassan sacrificed himself again when Amir set him up as a thief. Amir hid his watch and some money under Hassan’s pillow, the items are discovered, and although Hassan knows that he is being framed by his friend, he still pleads guilty.
Baba came right out and asked. “Did you steal that money? Did you steal Amir’s watch, Hassan?”
Hassan’s reply was a single word, delivered in a thin, raspy voice: “Yes.”
After several years of carrying the burden of guilt, Amir seeks redemption, and he tries and eventually succeeds in saving Hassan’s child from Assef after much sacrifice on his part.
Come. There is a way to be good again, Rahim Khan had said on the phone just before hanging up. Said it in passing, almost as an afterthought.
A way to be good again.
An example of great sacrifice is Amir's risky mission to rescue Sohrab, Hassan's son. In fact, it is this possibility of sacrifice that opens the entire novel, when Rahim Khan offers Amir "a way to be good again" (2). As we know, Amir is a cowardly and poor friend to Hassan when they are in Afghanistan together, and Amir's actions could be said to be the direct cause of all that befalls Hassan and Ali in the novel. When Rahim Khan asks Amir to undertake this mission, Amir responds,
I have a wife in America, a home, a career, and a family. Kabul is a dangerous place, you know that, and you'd have me risk everything for..." (221).
In spite of all of this, Amir does in fact rescue Sohrab, at great cost to himself, a good example of a sacrifice in the story. This sacrifice is central to the story, leading as it does to Amir's redemption.