Why is the kite so important to Amir in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini?

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Amir is the protagonist  and narrator who tells his story of growing up in Afghanistan and then America in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Amir tells the story from the perspective of time, but his story really begins when he is a young boy living with his father. His mother died after giving birth, so all Amir has for family (at least as far as he knows) is his father, whom he calls Baba.

Baba is a larger-than-life character. In fact, his nickname is "Mr. Hurricane," and he is known for his physical feats and prowess. Baba has money and power; when he speaks, things get done, and they get done just as he wants them. He is a manly kind of man, preferring athletic prowess to the ability to write. Unfortunately, Amir is more gifted in the latter than the former, and he is therefore a source of disappointment to his father. Baba loves Amir, but he rarely shows any kind of approval for his son and in fact often shows disdain for the things in which Amir is interested or skilled. Amir describes it this way:

Real men didn't read poetry–and God forbid they should ever write it! Real men–real boys–played soccer just as Baba had when he had been young.... He signed me up for soccer teams to stir the same passion in me. But I was pathetic, a blundering liability to my own team, always in the way of an opportune pass or unwittingly blocking an open lane. 

This is how things stand in the relationship between Baba and Amir when the local kite-running competition is held. Amir sees this as a chance to win his father's approval, and he can only do that by winning. Nothing but winning will win him Baba's approval. Baba won it once, and he expects his son to do the same.

Fortunately for Amir, his kite-runner, Hassan, wants nothing more than to win the coveted final kite for Amir. He will pursue the blue kite no matter what it costs him (and we discover it costs him a lot), and Amir will finally get his father's approval, something he covets beyond measure.

The acquisition of the kite is one of the most painful, shameful, and haunting things that ever happens to Amir, but he does not say one word about what it cost Hassan--or about his own cowardice--to Baba. Instead he accepts Baba's praise, and it is exactly the glorious moment he thought it would be. Things will change soon, but for that moment he basks in his father's praise. And it only happens because of the kite.

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