Is Baba, of The Kite Runner, an admirable character? How?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Despite his failings, Baba is an admirable man in several ways. Although he did not claim Hassan as his son, Baba always provided for him, treating him more as a family member than as a servant. Baba, for instance, arranged for Hassan to have surgery to correct his misshapen lip. Baba did not accept responsibility for Hassan's birth, as he should have, but neither did he shun the boy.

Baba did not understand Amir or accept him when Amir was a child, but Baba tried to be a good father. He provided well for Amir, sending him to school, celebrating his birthdays, and teaching him right from wrong. Baba rejected organized religion, but he instilled in Amir a sense of ethics.

When the political regime changed in Afghanistan, Baba protected Amir and his future by smuggling him out of the country, at great peril. On one occasion, he acted with great courage, risking his life to save a young woman he did not know from being raped by a soldier. Amir always remembered his father's decency and bravery in protecting her. Baba was smart, courageous, and strong in managing to leave Afghanistan and establish a new life of freedom in California.

Once they began their new life in California, Baba worked hard, struggling to support Amir. His life of wealth, comfort, and influence was gone, but Baba never complained. All his efforts were directed toward Amir's future. He was determined his son would have an education and a better life.

When Amir fell in love, Baba understood his son's feelings and helped him win Soraya's hand in marriage, according to Afghani custom. Dying of cancer, Baba continued to work as long as he could, again without complaint. He faced his death with courage and dignity, growing close to Amir and Soraya before he died.

Baba was far from a perfect man, but he lived his life with integrity in many ways.

mkcapen1 | Student

When I first read about Baba in the book "The Kite Runner,"  I did not like him nor think he was an admirable person.  However, as the story goes on and the relationship changes between he and his son, Amir, I began to see things differently.   Baba is a man caught in the culture he lives in and the racism that existed.  Even as a child, Ali, the boy who grew up with him, close as they were, had the stigma of being a Hazara to Baba. 

Baba is man trapped in his own need to be what is expected of him in his community and the actions he has done.  He has two sons.  One son he can call his own aloud and the other is born of his sexual encounter with a Hazara woman.  He keeps his illegitimate son close to him and treats him well.  However, the boy does not get to have his name or his protection.  The other son, Amir, never seems to live up to Baba's expectations.

After Baba and Amir go to America, their relationship seems to change for the better.  Baba still does not tell Amir about his affair and that Hassan is his son and Amir's brother.  He is too ashamed that he did the things he had done.

However, it is through his friend's, Rahim, letter that the reader begins to realize there was a deeper troubled man inside.  Rahim tells Amir about the good of his father and how his father had started an orphanage, fed the poor in the streets, and helped his friends with money when they needed help.  Rahim identified those things as Baba's redemption.  

One of the things that showed me that Baba really loved his son was that he took almost all of his savings to throw a wedding festival for Amir.  He also helped Amir ask for his wife's hand in marriage.  I believe he tried to give his son what he could.

The times were very different for Baba than they were for Amir.  Amir had the opportunity to be educated in America.  I believe that helped Amir prepare for the child of Hassan to come into his life.  It also enabled him to accept that being a Hazara did not make him bad or beneath him. 

Baba's experiences were as ingrained in him as his culture.  He was a man shaped by his surroundings.  I believe that he was a good man and an admirable character.  He saved his son from the disasters that could have befallen him.  It is a shame that he could never gain his own repentence for his son Hassan. 

Exerts from Rahim’s letter regarding Baba:

"He was a man torn between two halves."(301)

"Your father, like you, was a tormented soul."(301)

"I loved him because he was my friend, and a good man, maybe even a great man." (302)