In The Kite Runner, how do Amir's complex relationships have both positive and negative effects?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Amir grows up in two complex relationships, one with his father and one with his childhood friend, Hassan. As a child, Amir feels his father Baba's disapproval and cannot live up to his father's expectations. This causes Amir great fear, anxiety, resentment, and self-loathing. Time passes, however, and Amir and Baba make a daring and dangerous escape from Afghanistan to begin a new life in the United States. Their new life, and Amir's development into a young man, creates a strong bond between them. When Baba dies, Amir's conflicts with his father have been resolved; they have grown very close.

Amir's relationship with Hassan is even more complicated. Because of his conflicted feelings about his father and his negative feelings about himself, Amir frequently resents Hassan, punishing him because Baba treats Hassan like a son instead of a servant. Amir is sometimes cruel to Hassan, exercising his power over him in order to make himself feel significant. Through his own cowardice, Amir does not even attempt to save Hassan from the savage attack at the hands of neighborhood bullies. Amir, out of shame, then tricks Baba into sending Hassan away which robs Hassan of his home. Years later, Amir seizes the opportunity to atone for his sins against Hassan by returning to Afghanistan to rescue Hassan's son. Amir faces great danger and takes a terrible beating, but he saves the little boy and brings him home to live with Amir in the United States. In doing so, Amir becomes the man he always wanted to be.

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The Kite Runner

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