What does The Kite Runner teach us about guilt?

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In the story The Kite Runner , the narrator, Amir, is guilt-ridden about the rape of his best friend and half-brother, Hassan. Amir could have run to Hassan's rescue but chose not to out of cowardice. The guilt over this incident, at first, causes Amir to wish for Hassan to...

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In the story The Kite Runner, the narrator, Amir, is guilt-ridden about the rape of his best friend and half-brother, Hassan. Amir could have run to Hassan's rescue but chose not to out of cowardice. The guilt over this incident, at first, causes Amir to wish for Hassan to be gone. He is unable to play with Hassan as he used to, and the two friends stop seeing each other altogether. Finally, in his determination to make Hassan leave, Amir takes his birthday money and watch and puts them under Hassan's mattress to set him up as having stolen these items. When Hassan takes the fall for this ploy, Hassan's father states that they must indeed leave. Amir also realizes that Hassan had been aware of his cowardice during the rape incident all along, in the same way in which he deliberately takes the fall for Amir's setup.

What The Kite Runner teaches us about guilt is that it can cause us to avoid and unconsciously harm those people we feel guilt-ridden about, as a defense mechanism. What the second half of the book shows us is the narrator, Amir, atoning for his guilt in near self-destruction.

By the end of the story, Amir has returned to Afghanistan in search of Hassan's son. He admits to himself and the audience that Hassan was his half-brother, and he returns to a broken country in a dangerous climate to rescue Hassan's son, Sohrab. Amir locates Sohrab in the home of Hassan's rapist, Assef, and is nearly bludgeoned to death while trying to leave with Sohrab. It is during this fight that Amir finds himself healed from his guilt over Hassan:


“My body was broken—just how badly I wouldn't find out until later—but I felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed.”



In conclusion, The Kite Runner shows us the terrible things human beings can do to each other out of guilt. It also spends a significant amount of time teaching us how a human being—in this case, Amir—can spend his life guilt-ridden, seeking ways to make amends for his mistakes.

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