In Kite Runner, there are few female influences in Amir's life, particularly when he is a child. How do you think this influences his experiences and development?

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winnmc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Amir grows and matures throughout the story, his ideas of traditional masculinity and manhood also develop as a result of his various male influences and lack of any female influence.  From Amir's perspective, Baba, his father, is described as the epitome of masculinity both physically as well as mentally.  One notable example of this is found in chapter 3:

  •  "It was Rahim Khan who first first referred to him as what   eventually became Baba's famous nickname, Toophan agha, or "Mr. Hurricane."  It was an apt enough nickname.  My father was a force of nature, a towering Pashtun specimen, a thick beard, a wayward crop of curly brown hair as unruly as the man himself,  hands that looked capable of uprooting a willow tree, and a glare that would 'drop the devil to his knees for mercy...'"

Unfortunately for Amir, he seems incapable of living up to the standard of masculinity set for him by his father.  His "feminine" love of poetry and story-telling seems to further his feelings of inadequacy in contrast to his father who "thunder[s] into the room" and gains the attention of everyone.

In addition to his estranged relationship with his father, Amir feels guilty for supposedly having caused his mother's death during childbirth.  One can assume that Amir's desire to read his mother's poetry books  is in some way his only connection to her.  If she had been a present feminine, compassionate influence during his childhood years, Amir may not have needed to fulfill that hole through writing.  

Although he harbors some resentment towards his father at times, Amir also desperately seeks his approval.   The most obvious example of this is the kite tournament. Fighting kites seems to be the only physical or athletic activity at which Amir can succeed and gain his father's admiration.  In addition to desperation, his desire to connect with his father also leads to jealousy in his relationship with Hassan. Even before the rape, he decides not to invite Hassan to a trip to the lake.  He write,  "He wanted me to fetch Hassan too, but I lied and told him Hassan had the runs.  I wanted Baba all to myself. 

In conclusion, as Amir grows up, he spends a large part of his adulthood seeking redemption for his mistakes and reevaluating what it means to be a good man. Because of his father, and in part his lack of female influence, Amir spent many of his childhood years in anger, fear, hatred, and utter confusion.

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The Kite Runner

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