Is Amir, from The Kite Runner, an admirable character? Does he deserve the compassion of the reader? (If possible, focus on the "NOT" side: Amir is NOT an admirable character, he does NOT deserve the compassion of the reader.)
Hello! You asked about Amir from 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini.
In Chapter 1, we find out that Amir's friend, Rahim Khan, calls him from Pakistan and tells him that 'there is a way to be good again.' Much of the novel from this starting point deals with Amir's personal journey from sinner to partial saint, partial because he can never fully erase the results of his betrayal of Hassan. We find out that Amir and Hassan grow up together. Hassan and his father, Ali, are servants in Amir's household. Both Amir and Hassan are motherless boys.
Amir betrays Hassan twice: the first time, when he watches Assef rape Hassan and the second time, when he frames Hassan for theft, in order to quell his guilty conscience. He explains his cowardice away:
Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Was it a fair price? ...He was just a Hazara , wasn't he?
There is nothing for us to admire in the young Amir. He callously leaves Hassan to suffer at the hands of Assef and then, he betrays Hassan in order to forget his cowardice. Although the man, Amir, tries to atone for his sins, we are never quite sure it suffices to absolve him of his past. When he tries to rescue Sohrab (Hassan's son) from Assef, who is now a Taliban official, we find out that Assef wants to fight Amir to the death for Sohrab. Yet, once again, there is to be no heroic moment for Amir. He literally gets used as Assef's punching bag. Ironically, he feels that he deserves the beating; it is his redemption:
My body was broken-just how badly I wouldn't find out until later-but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed.
And just like his father did before him, it is Sohrab, the son, who now continues the tradition of saving Amir. With his makeshift slingshot, Sohrab shoots one of the brass balls from the ring in a table base at Assef. Like his father before him, Sohrab is a great shot. Assef loses his left eye; the brass ball is entombed in his empty eye socket. While Assef is immobilized, Sohrab and Hassan make a run for it. Alas, having gone to save Hassan's child, it is the child who has to rescue Amir instead. Amir can't even seem to fight his own battles.
There you have it: Amir is not really an admirable character. Not only does he make it hard for us to sympathize with him, he never really gains our respect.
Thanks for the question!
I think Amir becomes an admirable character because he is a good husband and he never gives up on Sohrab. He is also there for his father.