Discussion Topic

Parallels and differences between Amir and Hassan's relationship and Baba and Ali's in "The Kite Runner."

Summary:

Both relationships in "The Kite Runner" illustrate deep bonds marred by social and ethnic divides. Amir and Hassan's friendship mirrors Baba and Ali's, with both pairs consisting of a Pashtun and a Hazara. However, while Baba shows more overt kindness to Ali, Amir struggles with guilt and jealousy towards Hassan, reflecting a more complex and conflicted dynamic.

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What parallels exist between Amir and Hassan's relationship and Baba and Ali's?

Amir and Hassan's relationship is similar to Baba and Ali's because first of all, there are obvious class differences and inequalities. Ali has spent his life being a servant of Baba, just as Hassan is a servant to Amir. Ali is uneducated and considered of lower class, whereas Baba is educated and is an important figure in his community. This parallels the academic differences between Amir, who gets a good education and Hassan, who is illiterate and uneducated. Ali and Baba are similar in age, just as Amir and Hassan. Hassan and Ali seem physically flawed in relationship to their counterparts. Hassan has a cleft lip,which makes him the subject of mocking, just as Ali's limp from polio and partial paralysis in his face make him the target of snide comments and disrespect.

Morally, Ali and Hassan seem superior to their companions, Baba and Amir. While Ali and Hassan remain loyal and moral subjects, both Baba and Amir betray their servant companions. Baba betrayed Ali by engaging an a sexual encounter with Ali's wife, and Amir betrayed Hassan and allowed his rape to occur and go unmentioned.

The author uses these parallels to display the fact that physical and social superiority does not mean a person is morally superior.

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What parallels exist between Amir and Hassan's relationship and Baba and Ali's?

Baba and Ali are friends, just as Amir and Hassan are. However, neither relationship is a friendship of equals, as Baba and Amir are from the elite Pashtun ethnic group in Afghanistan, while Ali and Hassan are from the Hazara people, an ethnic group that others look down upon. Ali and his son Hassan are devoted and loyal friends to Baba and Amir.

Baba and his son, Amir, however, both wind up cheating their friends. Baba has a relationship with Ali's wife that results in the birth of Hassan, Baba's illegitimate son. Amir plants money in Hassan's belongings to implicate his friend in stealing after Amir feels guilty for witnessing and not trying to stop Hassan's rape by a neighborhood boy. While Baba and Amir in many ways support and help Ali and Hassan by letting them live on their property, Baba and Amir also cheat their friends and do not treat them as equals.

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What parallels exist between Amir and Hassan's relationship and Baba and Ali's?

The main parallel that can be drawn between Amir and Hassan's relationship and that of Baba and Ali's relationship is the void created by society's expectations that prevents both Amir and Baba from publicly acknowledging Hassan and Ali as their true friends. Both Amir and Baba are ruling Pashtuns and expected to treat Hazaras like Hassan and Ali with contempt. Despite being close friends with Hassan and Ali, Amir and Baba refuse to acknowledge their friendships because it is considered taboo in Afghanistan to form close bonds with Hazaras. Hassan and Ali are also Amir and Baba's servants and do not enjoy the same privileges as them. Both Amir and his father are also portrayed as flawed, insincere individuals, who hurt Hassan and Ali. Amir is filled with guilt after refusing to intervene when he witnesses Assef rape Hassan, which is similar to the guilt Baba experiences for having an affair with Ali's wife and refusing to acknowledge Hassan as his biological son.

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Compare the relationships between Baba and Ali, and Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

Although they all grew up together on the same property, the relationships between the two adults and two children ended quite differently in The Kite Runner. Baba had employed Ali as his servant for many years, and though they maintained a master/servant relationship, Baba always treated Ali kindly, as though he was a member of the family. Like Amir and Hassan, the two men had grown up together; Ali lived in a small hut outside Baba's fine home, and Baba did not consider Ali's Hazara heritage a roadblock in their relationship as many other Afghans did. Amir and Hassan grew up as playmates as well, and Amir shared most of his non-school hours with Hassan. However, Amir eventually grew jealous of Baba's attentions toward Hassan, and he plotted to undermine Ali's son by planting his own birthday gifts under Hassan's mattress to dishonor him. This deceitful act caused Ali and Hassan to leave Baba's home, permanently ending the relationship between the four.

For Baba, who had many friends and whose popularity in Kabul was widespread, the loss of his old friend Ali was probably not as devastating as it was to Amir. Amir had no other close friends, and he soon came to miss Hassan, though he felt his sinful actions were important to gain more attention from his father. Later in the story, we find that Baba has not been completely honorable to Ali when Rahim Khan reveals to Amir that Baba had actually fathered Hassan. Thus, both Baba and Amir committed sins against their loyal friends/servants, and both lived with the unspoken guilt for years afterward. 

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Discuss the relationship betweem Amir and Hassan, also between Amir and Baba.

Amir has a complex relationship with Hassan, who is his best friend as a child. Amir and Hassan spend countless hours playing with each other but Amir refuses to acknowledge that Hassan is his best friend because he is a Pashtun and Hassan is a Hazara. The social pressures form a barrier in their relationship and Amir begins to envy Hassan because Baba admires him more. As a child, Amir does not know that Hassan is his half-brother and begins to tease him as a defense mechanism to make up for his low self-esteem. Hassan genuinely loves Amir but Amir does not reciprocate his feelings. After Amir witnesses Hassan get raped and does not intervene, their relationship is permanently ruined and Amir attempts to get Hassan kicked out of his home.

Amir also has a complex relationship with his father, Baba. As a child, Amir looks up to his father and desperately wishes to earn his respect and affection. Unfortunately, Baba is a callous man, who continually dismisses his son and does not pay him much attention. Baba wishes that Amir was more athletic and masculine, which is why he prefers to spend more time with Hassan. As Amir gets older, Baba finds redemption by immigrating with his son to America and giving Amir a second chance at life. In America, Amir and Baba become closer and the two characters repair their once damaged relationship.

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Discuss the relationship betweem Amir and Hassan, also between Amir and Baba.

Amir and Baba's relationship in Khaled Hosseini's novel, The Kite Runner, becomes stronger as time goes on. Baba finds the young Amir a weak disappointment and considers his writing talents unmanly. Baba fails to find a middle ground to share with his son, and their time together usually includes other members of the extended family. Baba becomes aware of Amir's jealousy of Hassan, but the father cannot explain his own reason for showing such an interest in his servant's son. Following their move to America, Baba and Amir grow much closer, living together and combing California's flea markets for treasures to resell. Even after his marriage, Amir remains dedicated to Baba, only realizing the father's terrible secret after Baba's death.

Amir can never forget that Hassan is not his equal, and though no one is closer to him during his youth, he still treats Ali's son as a servant. The two boys grow up as brothers, playing together and living on the same property, but Amir never treats Hassan as an equal--not realizing the truth of their situation. Amir becomes increasingly jealous of Baba's strong feelings for Hassan, and eventually commits two terrible acts of betrayal against his companion. He regrets both of them for the rest of his life, but when he learns the truth about Hassan after his death, it only compounds his guilt.

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What parallels can be drawn between Amir and Hassan's relationship and that of Baba and Ali in "The Kite Runner"?

Besides instances when Baba showed warmth and love to Hassan and when Baba's father adopted Ali...

There are many parallels in between the two fathers and between the two sons.  I will share a few with you.

First, both Baba and Ali have no wives, with Baba's wife having died and Ali's wife having run off.  Because of this, of course, both Amir and Hassan are motherless.

Second, Ali is Baba's servant, as Hassan is Amir's servant.

Third, each father has a son who is "crippled," Amir, by his insecurity and cowardice, and Hassan, by his harelip.

Fourth, both boys are in some sense fatherless, since Amir perceives that his father has no love for him and since Hassan has no knowledge of who his father is.

It might be interesting to think about how the author contrasted these pairs, as well.  These "matched sets" are a perfect topic for a compare and contrast essay.

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What are the differences between Baba and Ali, and Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner?

I think a case can be made that the betrayals are very different. While both Baba and Amir got away with their betrayals due to the social hierarchy in the society, their causes are different. Both betrayals do have to do with the flaws in Baba's and Amir's characters, but they are very different flaws.

Baba is a strong and self-confident person. He has a lot of power and influence and generally does not worry about what others think of him. He is not a coward, as is demonstrated when he is leaving Afghanistan with Amir and intervenes, at a great personal risk, when a Russian soldier is about to assault a woman. However, there is a line, a boundary, that he cannot allow himself to cross—he knows that there are some things his society will not accept. Having a child out of wedlock is one of those things. His pride would not allow him to risk his reputation by admitting that he fathered Hassan, betraying Ali.

Amir, on the other hand, has low self-esteem. His confidence swings widely depending on whether or not Baba seems to be pleased with him at any given moment. His friendship with Hassan suffers because Hassan demonstrates himself to be better than Amir in many ways, and this hurts Amir, as he feels he will never live up to the same standard. He cannot forgive himself for not coming to Hassan's aid when the latter was attacked, and he tries to cover up the whole incident instead of confiding in an adult. He is terrified of the judgement of the only person who should have been able to guide him through this experience—Baba—and he therefore makes some very bad choices, betraying Hassan. His character flaw is not vain pride but rather lack of self-respect. Considering that he is still a child when he betrays Hassan, he cannot be entirely blamed for it—a lot of it has to do with his circumstances and upbringing.

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What are the differences between Baba and Ali, and Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner?

I see both betrayals as being very similar.  Baba betrayed Ali in a very different way than Amir betrayed Hassan, but the cause of the betrayal is the same:  both men could, and did, get away with it due to the social hierarchy in their society.  What's interesting about this similarity is it demonstrates similar flaws in both father and son, despite the fact that Amir sees himself as so different from Baba.

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What are the differences between Baba and Ali, and Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner?

When you pose the question in the way you do, as an either/or approach, you may miss some of the nuances. Why does it have to be either/or? What can't there be elements of both? In life, which is complex, the answer is almost always found in between. In fact, answers are messy and at times completely inconsistent. So, I would say that there are elements of master/servant dysfunctions as well as character issues. For example, if there is a strong cultural differences between master/servant, then it would be hard to see outside of this. Also in a culture based on shame, there is almost unbearable pressure to act a certain way. If you know this, then you can see the character is not the only dysfunction. Society has a role as well.

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What are the differences between Baba and Ali, and Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner?

The story clearly develops from the flaws in Baba's and Amir's characters. Any master will enjoy a superior economic and social position over a servant, but Baba's and Amir's actions were not determined by their positions in the household. Baba betrayed Ali out of lust for Ali's wife, and he betrayed Hassan, his own son, out of guilt, shame, and fear for his reputation. Baba treated Hassan well, but he betrayed him by refusing to acknowledge him as a son.

Amir often treated Hassan cruelly, not because he was a social superior, but because he felt jealous of him. Baba treated Hassan with warmth and acceptance, which Amir deeply resented since his own relationship with Baba was so lacking. Amir betrayed Hassan's friendship with his cruelty, and eventually he betrayed Hassan by running away in fear rather than take any action to protect him from the bullies. Finally, Amir betrayed Hassan by scheming to have him sent away from the household. This he did out of guilt. Amir could not stand to live with Hassan any longer. The boy's mere presence reminded him of his own cowardice.

Baba and Amir betrayed others not because they were masters to servants, but because they were flawed human beings.

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