How do the relationships between fathers and sons in The Kite Runner affect the events of the novel?

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Amir's relationship with his powerful father, Baba, affects the course of the novel. Amir longs for Baba's love and approval, but his father withholds these things from Amir. Baba is a more aggressive, macho kind of man, and he does not appreciate his son's softer, more bookish ways. He does...

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Amir's relationship with his powerful father, Baba, affects the course of the novel. Amir longs for Baba's love and approval, but his father withholds these things from Amir. Baba is a more aggressive, macho kind of man, and he does not appreciate his son's softer, more bookish ways. He does not give Amir the love that he needs as a growing boy who lost his mother during his birth.

As a result, Amir grows jealous of his kind friend, Hassan, who receives attention from Baba, and Amir tries to pin a theft on Hassan that causes his friend to leave their compound. Therefore, it is Amir's failure to win Baba's love and approval that causes Hassan to leave his life (Amir finds out later that Hassan is actually Baba's son as well). To atone for his sins after Hassan's death, Amir adopts Hassan's son, Sohrab, who is Amir's half-nephew. Amir tries to become a father to the boy—another example of the way in which father-son relationships drive the action of the novel.

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The circumstances of Hassan's birth, antecedent action in the novel, directly or indirectly drives the events of the narrative. His guilt over fathering Hassan but not claiming him determines Baba's relationship with Hassan and also with Amir, the son he does acknowledge. Baba is especially kind and gentle with Hassan, a mere servant, for reasons that Amir cannot understand; in contrast, Baba is demanding and distant with Amir. Baba's treatment of his two sons creates in Amir a deep insecurity and jealousy that leads to his two betrayals of Hassan, his friend. The subsequent shame and self-hatred almost destroy Amir.

The relationship between Baba and Amir changes, however, and the change directs events once they immigrate to California and make a new life. Baba does love Amir, which Amir comes to realize, first during their dangerous escape from Afghanistan and later when he watches his father struggle to support them. Living in poverty brings them together as they work side-by-side to eke out a living. Baba's love for Amir is further demonstrated when he acts to help Amir realize his marriage to Soraya. Because the relationship between Baba and Amir has changed so profoundly, Amir and Soraya make a home for Baba and care for him with great tenderness while he is dying.

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