Guilt, atonement and redemption are themes in the novel, The Kite Runner. What is Hosseini trying to say about these themes?
Hosseini portrays guilt, atonement, and redemption through the experiences and decisions of Baba and Amir. Both characters suffer from the overwhelming guilt of their past indiscretions. Baba feels guilt for having an illegitimate Hazara son, which is something that he does not acknowledge because of social pressure. Amir also experiences guilt after not intervening while Hassan is being raped by Assef. Amir then makes the situation worse by framing Hassan, which forces his former friend to leave his home.
Fortunately, both characters atone for their past sins by making significant sacrifices. Baba sacrifices his prosperous life in Afghanistan by moving to America to give Amir a new life, while Amir travels back to Kabul as an adult to save and adopt Sohrab, Hassan's son. Hosseini illustrates how individuals must make significant sacrifices in order to atone for their past sins and find redemption. Hosseini also reveals the healing power of redemption, which eliminates guilt and sets one's soul free. By sacrificing their former guilt-ridden lives, Baba and Amir liberate their spirits and find peace. Overall, Hosseini's story illustrates how it is never too late to atone for past sins and find redemption.
The author makes it clear that, though often difficult and possibly a lengthy process, a man can atone for his past sins. Amir's guilt over his sins against Hassan--standing idly by while he is raped, and then planting evidence that would seem to make him guilty of theft--hang over him for more than 20 years. It affects his relationship with his father and his wife. But when he returns to Pakistan to visit Rahim Khan and discovers the truth about Hassan--that he is actually the half-brother to Amir, and he has left behind a son--Amir determines that this is his chance to eradicate the guilt that plagues him. Rescuing Sohrab from the Taliban and bringing him home to be a part of his family begins the atonement for his past indiscretions. When Amir volunteers to run the kite for Sohrab--acting out a reversal of roles that Amir and Hassan shared as youths--he solidifies the redemption process.
One of the main themes is obviously guilt, particularly the guilt that Amir feels ever since that day in his childhood when he allowed Hassan to be raped after running his kite for him. That guilt is only intensified when he learns that he and Hassan are actually brothers.
But the great power of redemption and its importance is also shown by Amir's trip to Afghanistan and his standing up to the very same bully that he backed down from in his childhood. The redemption he feels is important and notable because it isn't as though he can pay back Hassan directly but by helping his son he feels that he has repaid some of his debt.