Identify the types of journeys developed in The Kite Runner, and explain how the book represents them.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Kite Runner is indeed a novel about journeys--external and internal, literal and abstract, physical and spiritual. Amir's physical journey in returning to Afghanistan to save Hassan's son is dramatic and perilous as he moves throughout the country, observing the terrible effects of life under the Taliban. Amir lives in mortal danger every moment he remains in Afghanistan, and his experiences there contribute much to the novel's development of plot and theme, as well as the development of Amir's character. A second physical journey Amir makes is escaping from Afghanistan as a boy and traveling with Baba to settle in the United States.

Amir makes other journeys, as well, journeys that are internal, abstract, and deeply spiritual in nature. He moves through a troubled childhood to find his identity, personally and professionally. As a boy, Amir creates stories from his imagination; his desire to write and his talent for writing are evident very early in his life. Although he receives no understanding, encouragement, or appreciation from Baba, he persists. As a young adult living in California, he goes to college and finds success as a writer.

He also journeys from childhood into adulthood in achieving a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with his father. As a boy, Amir's relationship with Baba had been fraught with pain and conflict, contributing to Amir's deeply felt insecurities. In making their escape from Afghanistan and in making a new and difficult life in California, Amir and his father redefine their relationship. Amir becomes his father's partner and then his protector, caring for him as he dies of cancer. Amir achieves a loving relationship with Baba.

Finally, Amir's most profound journey is spiritual, one in which he faces his past, deals with his guilt, and finds redemption for his sins. For many years, Amir had lived with the guilt and shame of his betrayal of Hassan during their childhood. When given a chance "to be good again," he chooses to risk his life in returning to Afghanistan to save Hassan's son. In facing Assef and fighting for Sohrab, Amir finds he is capable of great courage and sacrifice. After living with torment and self-hatred, he finds peace and self-respect.

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The Kite Runner

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