Redemption is a major theme of The Kite Runner. The novel begins with Rahim Khan telling Amir that redemption is a possibility: "there is a way to be good again." At this point, Amir is haunted by his own failure to be good, his cowardice in the face of oppression and, in particular, his betrayal of his friend Hassan.
Even before he failed to save Hassan, Amir had a nebulous feeling that he had failed his father, Baba, simply by being born, since his mother died in childbirth. He tells the reader that he always had the feeling his father hated him:
And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn’t I? The least I could have done was to have had the decency to have turned out a little more like him. But I hadn’t turned out like him.
There is nothing Amir can do about the circumstances of his birth, and he cannot change the way he failed Hassan either, but he can have a profound influence on the future and, by doing so, try to make up for the past. His fight with Assef to save Sohrab offers an unusually close opportunity to correct his failure to save Hassan from the same antagonist. Assef represents the most brutal and depraved elements in Afghan society, and, although he is not finally defeated, Amir does finally stand up against him. Amir's personal redemption in this struggle may be taken as a symbol of the possible redemption of Afghanistan itself.