In The Kite Runner, why does Amir refuse Rahim Kahn's urging to stay in Peshawar a few more days?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 2003 novel The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, covers the life of an Afghanistani boy who survives the Soviet occupation to discover his connection to his people and family.

In Chapter 19, protagonist Amir is on his way to Kabul to find his nephew, the son of his half-brother. He does so at the request of Rahim Kahn, who is dying and wants to know that the nephew will be taken out of Afghanistan. Thinking about the trip, and the danger in returning to the Taliban-controlled country, Amir narrates:

Rahim Khan had wanted me to stay with him a few more days, to plan more thoroughly. But I knew I had to leave as soon as possible. I was afraid I’d change my mind. I was afraid I’d deliberate, ruminate, agonize, rationalize, and talk myself into not going. I was afraid the appeal of my life in America would draw me back, that I would wade back into that great, big river and let myself forget, let the things I had learned these last few days sink to the bottom. I was afraid that I’d let the waters carry me away from what I had to do. From Hassan. From the past that had come calling. And from this one last chance at redemption.
(Hosseini, The Kite Runner, Google Books)

Amir has become used to the freedom and simplicity of American life. He is no longer accustomed to the world of his youth, and afraid that if he stops to think, he will not be able to carry out the mission. He knows, in his heart, the importance of family and friends, and how much this mission means to Rahim Khan, who asks it of him as the last request of a dying man, and he is also afraid that the newly-discovered nephew might die without ever knowing his own family. Had Amir stayed with Rahim Khan, he may have never left for Kabul.

Read the study guide:
The Kite Runner

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