Without using specific quotes from Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner,  describe how Amir's relationship to the past contributes to the meaning of the novel as a whole.

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Kite Runner is a book about the relationship between a boy and his father. Written by Khaled Hosseini and published in 2003, it is a story about a young boy named Amir and his best friend Hassan. Amir is the narrator and tells the story of his childhood in Kabul, Afghanistan. Amir is not your traditional protagonist, in fact you don't really like him very much at first. He does redeem himself, but it takes quite awhile for him to do this. 

Amir lives in Kabul, Afghanistan with his father, Baba, and Baba's servants, Ali and his son Hassan. Amir has a strained relationship with his father. He thinks that his father wants a son who is brave. Amir struggles with the fact that his mother died giving birth to him. Amir's best friend is Hassan. Hassan represents everything that Amir wishes he could be. Hassan is brave and stands up for what he believes in. 

In the book, Amir is thinking back on his past. He lives with regrets. Amir's relationship with the past is one based on regret and shame. Amir tries so hard, as a young boy, to gain the approval of his father. He wants nothing more than to have his father love him, but he doesn't feel the father-son bond. He spends his days feeling like a failure and a disappointment to Baba. He is jealous of Hassan whenever he gets the attention from Baba. Amir eventually allows that jealously to override his conscience and betray Hassan in the worst way. That one decision was made in the hopes that Amir would finally get the approval of his father. He longs to make his father proud. When Amir looks back on the past, he is filled with regret. That is the relationship he has with the past. Every choice and decision that Amir made was in the hopes of making his father proud. 

It is not until much later in his life that Amir comes to terms with his actions of the past. When Amir learns the hidden secrets of the past, he knows that he has to try to right the wrongs he had done. His father has now died and he learns that the Taliban are taking control in Afghanistan. When he finds out that Hassan and his wife have been killed by the Taliban, and that their young son is now an orphan, Amir knows what he has to do. He has lived with regret for so long. He looks back on his past with shame, and now sees the chance to make things right. 

Amir's relationship with the past really boils down to Amir wanting to get the approval of his father. This is the whole theme of the book. Amir finally becomes the protagonist that we wanted him to be all along. We finally learn to see Amir in a new light. His actions as a child can not be overlooked, but we can begin to see a little more of why he did the things he did. When he brings Hassan's son to live with him and his wife, he is finally being the man his father wanted him to be. He is finally being the friend that Hassan always was, and he is finally being true to himself. 

Read the study guide:
The Kite Runner

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