What roles do Baba play in The Kite Runner? Prove them with direct references and an in-depth look at Baba's personality characteristics.  

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Above all else, Baba serves as the powerful man and stern father who Amir desires to satisfy and emulate but never can.

I worshiped Baba with an intensity approaching the religious. But... I wished I could open my veins and drain his cursed blood from my body.  (Chapter Four)

A man loved by nearly everyone in whom he comes in contact, Baba is never able to show his love to his young son during his prosperous days in Afghanistan. It is only after they move to California and Baba is reduced to working in a gas station does he come to respect his son, who is able to assimilate into life in America much more successfully than Baba. As a youth, Baba's bigger-than-life persona is one which Amir can never approach: Where Amir is "introverted, tentative, and intellectual," Baba is "outgoing, strong, and decisive." Baba's "observes with disgust" Amir's weaknesses, and he refuses to accept his son's literary pursuits. Yet, Amir never stops trying to earn Baba's love and approval, and he finally does so in the final months of Baba's life. Baba proudly matches Amir with the daughter of General Taheri, and he dies a happy man knowing that his son is on the road to a successful career and happy marriage. Still, even after Baba's death, Amir is haunted by his past sins against Hassan, and he leaps at the opportunity to receive atonement by returning to Afghanistan. It is not only for his own sake, but also in tribute to Baba, to make amends for his perceived weaknesses as a son. But Amir eventually discovers that Baba has not always practiced what he preached: Always reminding Amir that

"When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth..., (Chapter Three)

Amir finds out the terrible secret that Baba has always kept from his son: that Hassan is also Baba's son, and that the boy he has come to Afghanistan to find, Sohrab, is actually Amir's nephew. This revelation helps Amir to ease the worshipful manner in which he has always viewed his father, and Amir sees that imperfection can be found in even the greatest of men. Amir vows to be a different kind of father to Sohrab, one who will accept the boy's limitations and love him unconditionally.

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The Kite Runner

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