In The Kite Runner, what role do fathers play?

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Fatherhood plays an important role in The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. The most important is Baba, Amir's father. Because of his position in the community, Baba does not approve of Amir's literary interests, but continues to love and support him; Baba also has an illegitimate son, who he does not acknowledge because of cultural taboos.

Baba is stubborn and willful, and shows a sharp streak of pragmatism; however, he also holds his own beliefs to high standards and refuses to bend to pressure. Baba's triumphal moment comes when he defends a woman from rape at the hands of Russian soldiers:

That was when Baba stood up. It was my turn to clamp a hand on his thigh, but Baba pried it loose, snatched his leg away. When he stood, he eclipsed the moonlight. "I want you to ask this man something," Baba said. He said it to Karim, but looked directly at the Russian officer. "Ask him where his shame is."

They spoke. "He says this is war. There is no shame in war."

"Tell him he's wrong. War doesn't negate decency. It demands it, even more than in times of peace."

"Tell him I'll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place," Baba said.
(Hosseini, The Kite Runner, Google Books)

With this act, Baba demonstrates to his son that morality and bravery are more than platitudes; Baba is willing to sacrifice himself to protect a woman he does not even know, and willingly faces death to uphold his beliefs. These lessons stick with Amir into his adulthood, allowing him to make similar decisions when asked for a difficult favor by a family friend.

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