What are the similarities and differences between Amir and Baba in The Kite Runner?
Although Amir spends most of his childhood trying to please his father, he can never live up to Baba's great expectations and larger-than-life personality. Baba is strong and fearless, having lived to tell the tale of fighting a bear. Amir is weak and cowardly; it is Hassan who stands up for Amir when the two boys are accosted by Assef and his young gang. Amir resorts to lies when he believes it will be to his advantage, while Baba strongly believes in a personal code of honesty:
"When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness." (Chapter 3)
Baba loves the outdoors and is a great hunter; Amir prefers the solitude of writing in his bedroom. Baba loves the company of men and throwing parties; Amir prefers being by himself. Baba shows only love and compassion for Ali and Hassan, while Amir is ashamed of being seen in public with the Hazara, Hassan.
The father and son share some similarities. Amir becomes a champion kite flyer, just as Baba had been as a child. They both share a love of American life, though Baba's expectations ultimately fall short of Amir's. They both respect the old Afghan culture and practice it faithfully in California. They both share a new love of the flea market culture on weekends. And, both Baba and Amir marry teachers.
Baba is a respected, masculine businessman in Kabul, who builds his own beautiful home and orphanage in Afghanistan. Unlike his timid son, Baba is boisterous and confident. He is extremely benevolent and risks his life in order to prevent a Russian soldier from raping an innocent Afghan woman. Baba is revered throughout Kabul but gives up his luxurious lifestyle to flee Afghanistan and immigrate to America. In contrast, Amir is a rather quiet, sensitive boy, who does not excel at athletic competitions. Baba views his son as weak and does not support his literary interests. Amir spends the majority of his childhood attempting to please his father. Despite Amir's timid personality, he harbors a dark secret and is forced to live with guilt for the majority of his life.
While Baba has to live with the guilt of socially rejecting his secret son, Hassan, Amir feels extremely guilty for not intervening while Hassan was being raped. Both characters also search for redemption and end up atoning for their past sins. Baba sacrifices everything in order to give his son an opportunity in life by immigrating to America. Amir atones for his sins by risking his life to travel back to Afghanistan in order to save and adopt Hassan's son, Sohrab.
A major similarity between Baba and Amir is that they keep damning secrets from their loved ones. They understand the principle of honesty, but they fail to practice it when the situation appears dire. Amir learned that Hassan was his half-brother through Rahim Khan. Baba kept the information a secret until his death. Amir, on his part, did not tell Baba what happened to Hassan after the kite flying tournament. In addition, Amir never told Baba that he framed Hassan for theft.
A major difference between father and son is that Baba was a courageous man, while Amir was cowardly. For instance, Baba stopped the Russian soldier from making advances on the married woman in the truck. Amir, on the other hand, failed to intervene when Assef raped Hassan.