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Amir's dysfunctional relationship with Baba never really materializes into the kind of intimate and easy camaraderie Amir desires. From his worshipful description of Baba in Chapter Three, we recognize how much the young Amir idolizes his father. However, Baba's inclinations towards his son wavers between disgust at Amir's inability to display any lasting impression of masculine fortitude and innate love for his progeny. In the beginning, his contempt towards Amir is evident, and he has a hard time showing any sort of affection or warmth for his son.
There is something missing in that boy.
But something about Amir troubles me in a way that I can't express...If I hadn't seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I'd never believe he's my son.
This leaves Amir insecure and troubled. He is further driven to jealousy towards Hassan when his young servant manages to secure Baba's attention without trying. In Chapter Five, Amir tells us that, one winter, Baba's birthday gift to Hassan is especially generous. Accordingly, Baba hires a plastic surgeon to surgically correct Hassan's harelip. In the previous chapter, we learn of the deep hurt Amir experiences when Baba refuses to acknowledge his son's achievement in having written an original short story.
The despairing Amir thinks that winning the kite tournament would be the only way to prove to Baba that he is worthy of his love and regard. Amir is proved right when he does win. Baba boasts about his son's prowess to his relatives and friends. However, Amir's joy is short-lived, when what was to have been a cherished outing with Baba alone, turns into a multi-family affair. Amir finds his great achievement tainted not just by Baba's superficial, new regard but also by Hassan's rape. Try as he might, he cannot overthrow his father's strange preoccupation with Hassan's welfare. When he innocently asks Baba if he would ever get new servants, Baba explodes in anger.
Forty years Ali's been with my family. Forty goddamn years. And you think I'm just going to throw him out?... You bring me shame...Hassan's not going anywhere...This is his home and we're his family. Don't you ever ask me that question again!
When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Baba and Amir are forced to flee to Pakistan. There, they manage to secure visas to the United States. In America, Baba finds it hard to acclimate to the expectations of a new culture and of the greater immigrant society within that culture. His proud Afghan ways will not allow him to resort to using food stamps. Amir relates that Baba pulls twelve hour shifts working at a gas station. Meanwhile, the basic tenor of their relationship remains unchanged: Baba gives the orders, and Amir complies.
After Amir's high school graduation, Baba tells Amir that he is 'moftakhir' (proud). They go out to celebrate, and Baba eventually gifts Amir with a Grand Torino, so that he can use it for college. Amir is touched by his father's generosity, but the specter of Hassan's presence clouds their fragile companionship. Their uneasy camaraderie is further fractured when Amir refuses to bow to Baba's wishes for his son to train for what he considers a more substantial occupation than the writing profession. Again, we have this recapitulation of an earlier motif, where Baba equates masculinity with certain types of accomplishments and attributes.
Baba's stubborn machismo is further demonstrated when he refuses all the typical medical treatments for his cancer, from chemotherapy to palliative radiation. However, in the final scheme of things, his love for Amir is evident. Even in the advanced stage of his cancer, Baba gladly meets with General Taheri to broker the marriage between Amir and Soraya. For the couple's wedding, Amir tells us that Baba nearly emptied his life's savings account to pay for the ceremony. Baba dies a proud, strong man, incorrigible to the end.
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