What are some of young Amir’s character weaknesses in The Kite Runner?

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In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini , Amir has several clear character weaknesses as a young boy. Not surprisingly, he takes his position as the son of a wealthy man for granted. Although he spends all of his childhood days with Hassan, he does not consider Hassan a friend....

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In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir has several clear character weaknesses as a young boy. Not surprisingly, he takes his position as the son of a wealthy man for granted. Although he spends all of his childhood days with Hassan, he does not consider Hassan a friend. This is probably because Hassan is the son of his father’s servant. Amir says,

The curious thing was, I never thought of Hassan and me as friends either. Not in the usual sense, anyhow. Never mind that we taught each other to ride a bicycle with no hands, or to build a fully functional homemade camera out of a cardboard box. Never mind that we spent entire winters flying kites, running kites.

He also plays pranks on people, generally without caring about what the impact of the pranks will be. For instance, he says,

When we were children, Hassan and I used to climb the poplar trees in the driveway of my father's house and annoy our neighbors by reflecting sunlight into their homes with a shard of mirror.

He even instigates Hassan into doing even naughtier things, and Hassan never likes to say no to Amir. Amir takes advantage of this:

Sometimes, up in those trees, I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor's one-eyed German shepherd. Hassan never wanted to, but if I asked, really asked, he wouldn't deny me. Hassan never denied me anything.

Importantly, he also allows Hassan to take the blame for his misdeeds. He says,

He never told on me. Never told that the mirror, like shooting walnuts at the neighbor's dog, was always my idea.

Amir can also be extremely self-centered. When he and Hassan enter the kite-fighting tournament, he relies on Hassan to retrieve his kite. He goes running off in search of Hassan and thinks primarily about the kite, not about his childhood companion. For years after he sees Hassan being assaulted in the alley, he anguishes over the fact that all he thought about in the moments leading up to that attack was his kite.

He is guilt ridden throughout his life because he did not step in to help Hassan. However, he was a young boy, only twelve years old, and frightened. Yet, his reaction after this incident is also somewhat telling: it reflects his guilt and his desire to drive Hassan and Ali away. He takes his own watch and steals cash from Baba and plants them in Hassan’s room so that Hassan will be blamed. He does this because he is too afraid and lacks the courage to confess to his father that he witnessed Hassan’s assault.

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Amir displays numerous character weaknesses throughout Khaled Hosseini's celebrated novel The Kite Runner. As an adolescent, Amir is extremely jealous, cruel, unsympathetic, and deceitful. Amir envies Hassan because Baba favors him. Amir refuses to acknowledge that Hassan (who is a Hazara, which makes him a second-class citizen) is his friend in public, ridicules Hassan for his lack of education and knowledge, and continually tests his loyalty. Amir also purposefully excludes Hassan from activities because he wants to have Baba all to himself and resents the fact that his father admires Hassan.

Amir is also a coward: he betrays Hassan when he is in desperate need of help. After the kite-fighting tournament, Amir witnesses Assef raping Hassan but is too afraid to intervene. Amir fears Assef and does not want to endure the same experience as Hassan, which is why he refuses to help his friend. Following the incident, Amir feels extremely guilty and goes out of his way to avoid Hassan. To make matters worse, Amir demonstrates his cruelty by pelting Hassan with pomegranates and even hides his gifts underneath Hassan's pillow to make it seem like he stole them. Amir's plan to have Hassan removed from the house demonstrates his dishonesty and selfish personality. As Amir grows older, he is tortured by his past but is too weak to atone for his sins. Fortunately, Amir experiences a change of heart when he is given a second chance at life and redeems himself by saving Hassan's son from the Taliban.

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Cowardice, jealousy, disloyalty and dishonesty are among Amir's weaknesses as a boy growing up in Kabul. Amir is fully aware of his father's status among the most powerful and wealthy men in the city; but unlike Baba, who is generous and philanthropic in his dealings with others, Amir thinks always of himself. He refuses to consider Hassan as either an equal or as a best friend, and he seems to revel in the way Hassan worships him. Amir becomes jealous when Baba divides his attentions between the two boys. Amir's cowardice appears on the streets of Kabul when Hassan is forced to stand up for him against Assef and his thugs. On the day of the kite-flying competition, Amir refuses to come to Hassan's aid when he is sodomized by Assef. When Amir's guilt makes it difficult for him to face Hassan at Baba's house, Amir plants his birthday gifts under Hassan's mattress and allows the Hazara boy to take the blame for stealing them. Even when he realizes that Baba is willing to forgive Hassan, Amir does not stand up to his father and admit his deceit. He allows Ali and Hassan to leave Baba's home, thinking he will have his father's attentions all to himself.

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