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Baba's character development and role in The Kite Runner

Summary:

Baba in The Kite Runner evolves from a distant, authoritative father to a more vulnerable and approachable figure as he faces illness and immigration struggles. His role is crucial in shaping Amir's character, illustrating themes of redemption, father-son relationships, and the immigrant experience. Baba's complex personality and moral struggles significantly impact the narrative and Amir's journey.

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How is Baba a dynamic character in The Kite Runner?

A dynamic character is someone who experiences a dramatic inner change throughout a novel that affects their personality, perspective, or attitude. Amir's father Baba could be considered a dynamic character, because he experiences a dramatic change of heart as the novel progresses. At the beginning of the novel, Baba is portrayed as a relatively distant, callous man, who continually ignores Amir. While Baba is a generous, courageous person, who is respected by his neighbors, he has a terrible relationship with Amir. Baba resents the fact that Amir is not athletic or masculine, and is ashamed that his son would rather read stories than play sports. According to Amir, Baba favors Hassan, who is secretly his son. To Baba, Amir is an afterthought, and he goes out of his way to avoid bonding with him.

Following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, Baba makes the selfless decision to flee Kabul and immigrate to America. In America, Baba gives Amir a new beginning and accepts a low-paying job to provide for his son. In America, Baba experiences a change of heart and becomes closer to Amir. Baba relies on Amir to help him communicate and spends the majority of his time with his son. In addition to financially supporting Amir, Baba gives his son a chance to start over at life, which positively affects Amir. Baba develops into a sensitive, loving father, who demonstrates compassion and concern for Amir. Baba's emotional development and acceptance of his son are what makes him a dynamic character.

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How is Baba a dynamic character in The Kite Runner?

Baba is also dynamic in the sense that he is a fully developed character.  Hosseini provides numerous examples of indirect and direct characterization of Amir's father. Similarly, Baba is dynamic because he changes (though not as much as Amir).  While Baba is not one to compromise on the level of respect he expects (even when he works at a gas station) or in his values (his standing up for the woman in the truck when fleeing Afghanistan), he does change in his view of his son.  When Amir is growing up, Baba hates his stories and the fact that Amir is like his mother (most likely because Baba feels guilt of sleeping with Sanuabar after his wife's death).  But, as Amir matures and changes, Baba comes to be proud of him and even shows an interest in Amir's stories shortly before his death.

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How is Baba a dynamic character in The Kite Runner?

The father of Amir in Khaled Hosseini's novel, The Kite Runner, Baba is absolutely a character of dynamic dimensions. Growing up, Baba's own father rubbed shoulders with kings. A huge, imposing and handsome man, Baba became the center of attention when he entered a room. Baba amassed a fortune doing things his own way, which included designing his own buildings without the benefit of an architectural background. His wealth allowed him to throw great parties and meet influential people. His Mustang auto--a great rarity in Afghanistan--made him stand out even on the road. After fleeing to America, Baba lost his wealth but not his great will. By working hard and using his business skills in sometimes very small ways (such as at flea markets on the weekends), Baba managed to maintain a comfortable if not extravagant lifestyle in California. To the Afghan ex-patriots living there, Baba is still a great bear--larger than life and still someone to admire.

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What roles does Baba play in The Kite Runner?

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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Who does Baba kill in The Kite Runner?

In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Baba is brave and has a temper. In one scene, he comes close to killing a man but ultimately is stopped by the people around him who implore him to let the man go. Baba “almost choked a man to death” but finally is persuaded to release him.

This incident occurs as Baba and Amir flee Afghanistan. As the situation in their country worsens, it becomes clear that they must leave, despite all that he has amassed in Afghanistan and his relatively elevated position within his community. On the trip out, they encounter Russian soldiers, and Baba displays tremendous courage that borders on recklessness.

Baba and Amir are traveling with other passengers who are trying to flee the country, as well. Their journey is difficult and the refugees are all tense. Along the way, a Russian soldier tells them that the price for allowing the group to continue on their trip is for him to have half an hour alone with a young woman who is among the group. Baba tells the Russian soldier via their translator, Karim, "Tell him I'll take a thousand of his bullets before I let this indecency take place." Amir thinks to himself, “Do you have to always be the hero?”

Then, a few moments later, Karim informs Baba and the others that they cannot continue on the trip because the truck has broken down. Baba loses his temper and nearly kills the interpreter. Amir writes:

I caught a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye. Then a blur of something zipping across the room, and the next thing I saw was Karim slammed against the wall, his sandaled feet dangling two feet above the floor. Wrapped around his neck were Baba's hands ... Karim was making guttural choking sounds. Spittle dripped from the corner of his mouth.

One of the other refugees pleads with Baba to put Karim down because he was "killing him." Baba replies, "It's what I intend to do." Amir notes:

What none of the others in the room knew was that Baba wasn't joking. Karim was turning red and kicking his legs. Baba kept choking him until the young mother, the one the Russian officer had fancied, begged him to stop.

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What did Baba do wrong in The Kite Runner?  

In The Kite Runner, Baba is certainly an imperfect character, but mostly because of his upbringing in a society in which his ethnicity, religion, and wealth place him in the ruling class. Within the limitations of that upbringing, he is by no means an evil man.  The most striking wrongdoing on Baba's part is his coupling with Ali's wife, Sanaubar, which results in the birth of Hassan.  This wrongdoing on his part, kept secret through throughout the novel, leads to his guilt, his loving treatment of Hassan, albeit as a servant, and his not so loving treatment of Amir, who is a less pleasing child.  This wrongdoing leads to Amir's resentments also. Although Amir has no clue as to the source of his resentments, he feels the undertones of the relationship between Baba and Hassan, a love that he cannot seem to gain for himself. All of these undercurrents drive the action of the novel and the feelings of its characters.  This is a toxic secret, but of course, in that time and place, disclosing it would have been even more toxic, possibly leading to death. I think it is fair to say that Baba was immeasurably regretful about his wrongdoing and did the very best he could thereafter. 

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