In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir, the narrator, opens the book by saying,
I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975.1 remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek.
He is referring to a pivotal moment in his life when he witnessed the assault of his childhood companion, Hassan. He sees the attack in the alley and anguishes over it for years, consumed by guilt that he did not step in to help Hassan.
Amir ultimately gains redemption when, years later, he adopts Hassan’s son. Specifically, Amir is an adult. He has been living in California for many years. One day, he receives a telephone call from Pakistan from his friend Rahim Khan. Rahim asks Amir “to come see him,” and Amir says, “I knew it wasn't just Rahim Khan on the line. It was my past of unatoned sins.”
With that one phone call, his past becomes a vivid reminder of Hassan, who was his only real companion throughout his boyhood. Before ending the phone call, Rahim says, “There is a way to be good again.” Whether Rahim understands all the factors behind the guilt that haunts Amir is unclear. It is clear, however, that Rahim is offering Amir a way to achieve redemption.
Moreover, in some ways, Rahim is almost a father figure for Amir. In fact, Amir says that in one old photograph of Rahim Khan and Amir’s father, Baba, “Baba is holding me, looking tired and grim. I'm in his arms, but it's Rahim Khan's pinky my fingers are curled around.” Amir’s fingers are holding on to Rahim Khan as if he, along with Baba, was also Amir’s father. Thus, after some internal debate, Amir welcomes the opportunity to gain Rahim’s approval, vanquish his demons, and potentially “be good again,” as Rahim says.
Amir travels back to his birthplace and, in a way, travels back in time to his youth and Hassan. He learns from Rahim that Hassan is dead and that Hassan’s son, Sohrab, will need a home. Amir decides to take Sohrab back to America with him and raise him as his own son. Amir’s redemption unfortunately comes after Hassan’s death. However, he stands up for Hassan posthumously when he tells his father-in-law:
You see, General Sahib, my father slept with his servant's wife. She bore him a son named Hassan. Hassan is dead now. That boy sleeping on the couch is Hassan's son. He's my nephew. That's what you tell people when they ask… .And one more thing, General Sahib… You will never again refer to him as "Hazara boy" in my presence. He has a name and it's Sohrab.