How are Ralph in The Thorn Birds and Amir in The Kite Runner similar and different to each other?

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Father Ralph and Amir are both portrayed as antiheroes in their respective storylines. They possess significant flaws that drive the story, eventually reconciling with these flaws in order to achieve redemption.

Father Ralph uses his position in the Catholic Church to satisfy his own selfish wants and uses Catholicism to rationalize his actions. He denies Meggie her rightful inheritance as executor of the family's estate in order to pursue his ambition to become a cardinal. He takes advantage of her physically and has sexual relations outside of marriage. He rationalizes this lack of commitment by telling her that he must remain loyal to the Catholic Church, yet the lustful action itself was against the rules of his position. As Father Ralph, now a cardinal, comes to terms with his unjust actions, he allots the Cleary family yearly incomes that guarantee their security. After the death of Meggie and Ralph's son, Ralph uses his influential position to retrieve Dane's body from Greece for burial.

Similarly, Amir betrays his best friend Hassan when they are children. He does nothing to prevent Hassan's rape by Assef, as he is desperate to win the kite in order to make Baba proud. Throughout adulthood, Amir is plagued by guilt for his disloyalty and cowardice. He learns from Rahim that Hassan and his wife had been killed by the Taliban after refusing to give up Amir's childhood home. Amir returns to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan's orphaned son Sohrab, who is being sexually abused by Assef, now a member of the Taliban. He decides to adopt Sohrab and raise the boy in the United States to honour Hassan's memory and the unbreakable loyalty he had once shown Amir.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 23, 2020
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