Discussion Topic

The friendship and relationship dynamics between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner

Summary:

The friendship and relationship dynamics between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner are complex and deeply affected by social status and personal guilt. Amir, a privileged Pashtun, struggles with jealousy and guilt over Hassan, a loyal Hazara servant. Despite their bond, Amir's betrayal and need for redemption define their relationship, highlighting themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the quest for forgiveness.

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How do the characters of Amir and Hassan contrast in the beginning of The Kite Runner?

I'm assuming you need a paragraph contrasting the two characters, right?  Also, I'm not sure what you mean by the "beginning" of the novel, so I'll try to keep the references from early on in the novel.

First, I would recommend starting with a generalized observation of their personalities, such as "Amir appears to be a coward, unlike his servant and 'friend', Amir".  You can then provide quotes from the text to support these observations. 

For example, when Amir and Hassan run into Assef and his friends, Amir does not want anything to do with Assef, despite Assef's insults and threats: "'Just let us go, Assef,' I said, hating the way my voice trembled. 'We're not bothering you'" (Hosseini 41).  On the contrary, Hassan is the one who steps in and saves them from being beaten: "Hassan held the slingshot pointed directly at Assef's face....  'Please leave us alone, Agha,' Hassan said in a flat tone" (Hosseini 42).  Hassan was scared, but he stood up for Amir regardless of what he was feeling.

You could even borrow a passage from the end of chapter three where Baba comments how "[t]here is something missing in that boy" (Hosseini 22), referencing how Amir gets bullied in the streets and doesn't stand up for himself.

As with all cited evidence, be sure to (1) introduce the quote, (2) provide the quote, then (3) explain its significance/importance to your claim.

Other contrasting points could be how Amir is unfaithful while Hassan is loyal, or perhaps how Amir is spoiled but Hassan is thankful for everything he has.  You could provide ample evidence from the text to support these as well.

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Can you discuss the relationship between Amir and Hassan in "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini?

The first step in writing a five-paragraph essay is to come up with a thesis statement. If you have been given free rein in this area, here is a good way to come up with a thesis statement: first, decide on the themes you will discuss in your essay.

Will you address racism, betrayal, or redemption? How about class conflict, jealousy, or violence? After you have made your decision, it's time to come up with a thesis statement.

Let's say that you decide to address the themes of betrayal and redemption in your essay. Possible thesis statements could include:

1) Surviving betrayal is difficult but possible.

2) Redemption for an act of betrayal can only be achieved through genuine remorse.

3) Generational betrayal results in grave, extensive consequences.

After you pick your thesis statement, choose 3 examples from the novel that support your assertion. Here are considerations that may prove helpful in your search for examples:

1) When did Amir initially realize the enormity of his actions?

Then, I saw Baba do something I had never seen him do before: He cried. It scared me a little, seeing a grown man sob. Fathers weren't supposed to cry. "Please," Baba was saying, but Ali had already turned to the door, Hassan trailing him. I'll never forget the way Baba said that, the pain, in his plea, the fear.

2) Does guilt correlate to genuine remorse? Refer to Chapter 16, which highlights Rahim Khan's story about Hassan, Sanaubar, and Ali. How do you think Amir felt after listening to Rahim Khan's story? Did the truth inspire genuine remorse in Amir? Here's an important quote to consider:

It hit me again, the enormity of what I had done that winter and that following summer. The names rang in my head: Hassan, Sohrab, Ali, Farzana and Sanaubar.

3) Refer to Hassan's letter to Amir, and the latter's discovery about the manner of his former friend's death. You'll find this in Chapter 17. What was Amir's reaction when he discovers that he has been betrayed as well? Is Baba's betrayal (that of hiding Hassan's paternal heritage) worse than Amir's betrayal of Hassan?

4) What is the result of generational betrayal? Both Hassan and Baba hid the truth from each other. How does this result in Hassan's departure and eventual death at the hands of the Taliban? What about Sohrab? Does his suffering result from Baba or Amir's actions (or both)?

Once you have your thesis statement and supporting examples, you'll be able to write your five-paragraph essay. In your last paragraph, you can reiterate your thesis statement and perhaps address a counter-argument about betrayal and redemption. Let's take for example, a counter-argument: some acts of betrayal can never be forgiven. Thus, redemption is impossible.

If your thesis statement is "redemption for an act of betrayal can only be achieved through genuine remorse," you're saying that redemption is possible. What will you say to someone who argues otherwise? Addressing counter-arguments need not be a laborious process. One or two sentences will do. However, reiterating your thesis statement and addressing a counter-argument is a nice way to finish up your last paragraph.

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What are Amir's feelings towards Hassan in The Kite Runner?

I think this question touches upon the only real weakness of the book - that is, Hassan is just too good to be true.  Despite years of belittlement, exclusion and Amir's final treason (when he frames Hassan for "stealing" his birthday present), Amir's friend remains perfectly zen and true. The only time his emotions come through is at the pomegranate tree, where he smears himself with the red fruit to show his exasperation at Hassan's two-faced treatment of him.

Amir's feelings are a lot more transparent, as there is no ambiguity concerning his jealousy concerning Baba's relationship with Hassan and Hassan's natural athletic prowness. Amir feels that he doesn't have what it takes to please his father, who evidently must seek paternal gratification elsewhere. This spoils the natural complicity between the two boys, leading to the rupture of their relationship.

Amir doesn't learn that Hassan was indeed his half-brother until after Hassan's death. His reconciliation with his friend is therefore 'post-mortem,' when he saves Sohrab (Hassan's son) from Assef's clutches. He then goes the second mile to take Sohrab safely back to America and adopt him as his own son. More than anything else, through his choices later in life, Amir finally makes peace within himself.

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Explain the friendship between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

In The Kite Runner, Amir and Hassan are close friends who come from different classes. As children, Hassan lives in Amir's family's house—his father is a family servant. However, he shares a deep friendship with Amir. The two are playmates and run around playing as long as Hassan does not have any chores or work to do. Hassan has a deeper devotion to Amir than Amir does to him, in large part because Amir is somewhat spoiled as a child.

When Hassan is attacked and raped, Amir witnesses the event but does nothing to stop it or intervene, nor does he tell anyone after the fact. Hassan knows this, and their friendship is forever changed by the event—as they no longer play together and they speak much less frequently. There seems to be a wall between them. As Amir grows, he feels great remorse for his actions towards Hassan, and they drive him to seek him out later in life.

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Explain the friendship between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

As boys, Amir and Hassan were separated by social class, but they were united by the fact that they were young and the only two children in Baba's house. They played as children play, exploring their surroundings and sharing adventures. Hassan loves Amir without limits or conditions. Amir, however, is inconsistent in his treatment of Hassan; sometimes he treats Hassan as his friend, but frequently he abuses Hassan, lording over him his superior social class, education, and position as Baba's son. Hassan is, after all, a Hazara and a servant in the house. Hassan suffers the brunt of Amir's insecurities without complaint. The more Amir mistreats him, the greater Hassan's love and loyalty. It is Hassan, very small in stature and armed only with a slingshot, who saves Amir from the neighborhood bullies, led by the cruel Assef.

Their relationship in Kabul ends when Amir betrays Hassan; first he stands by to watch Assef and his gang assault and rape Hassan; then, because he cannot stand his guilt,  he frames Hassan to make it appear he is a thief, forcing him out of Baba's home. These acts of cowardice haunt Amir for the rest of his life, until he atones for them years later. Despite Amir's betrayal, however, Hassan's love for his friend never wavers. It is his letter, years after their parting, that puts Amir on the road to redemption and self-respect. Thus, Hassan saves Amir twice, once as a boy and years later, even after his own death.

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Explain the friendship between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

A lot of change happens throughout The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, particularly to the protagonist, Amir. His childhood friend and half-brother, Hassan, experiences few changes, but certainly both are forced to adapt to many changing circumstances in their lives.

Amir's changes are many. He grows up as a young child who longs for his father's love and approval but never feels as if he gets it from Baba. He is inexplicably jealous of Hassan's relationship with Baba, and of course later he discovers his true relationship with Hassan which explains everything. Amir's and Hassan's friendship is distinctly lopsided, with Hassan doing all the compromising and routinely accepting the abuse Amir gives him. Amir proves that he is not a friend to Hassan when he sees Hassan being horribly and violently abused by the perverted bully Assef but does nothing to stop it. He says:

I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. 

He feels guilty and ashamed of himself, but instead of dealing with those feelings openly, he harbors them and then uses the first opportunity he can find to get rid of what he sees as the source of his guilt--Hassan. 

Soon Amir and Baba are force to leave Kabul and they settle in America. As Amir matures, he begins to see his father differently and accepts him for who he is and how he raised Amir; his feelings toward Hassan also change, though his guilt and shame are a constant presence in his life. When he is offered a chance to redeem himself and atone for his past sins, he does so, though unwillingly, at first. In the end, he makes amends for both himself and Baba as he raises Hassan's son with true love and respect.

Hassan is cheerful, loyal, and loving at the beginning of the novel, and he is the same at the end of his life; however, these are the very qualities which cause him pain. He loves Amir so much that he allows himself to be abused by him in the name of friendship. He always says,

“For you, a thousand times over” 

His attempt to please and serve Amir is what puts him in the position to be abused by Assef, and his loyalty to Baba is what eventually gets him killed. He was living a peaceful life in a remote village when Rahim Khan asks Hassan to come back to Kabul to help him maintain Baba and Amir's house, and Hassan is killed while doing so. He is not perfect, and he has to work through his anger and disappointment with both his mother and with Amir, but it does not take long for him to forgive and love them unconditionally.

His last letter to Amir is full of love and respect, despite Amir's treatment of him, demonstrating that Hassan is the same character at the end of his life as he was from the beginning.

Hassan does not undergo as many changes as Amir because he does not have as many things about him that need changing. 

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Explain the friendship between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

Ultimately, the relationship between Amir and Hassan in Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner cannot truly be described as a friendship. In the second chapter, Amir describes a close friendship between the two boys as they climb trees together, picking and eating berries and nuts and laughing. As the reader quickly discovers, however, the relationship involves deep fissures emanating from the two boys’ different ethnicities and disparate family backgrounds. Amir’s family was wealthy and Pashtun, the majority ethnicity in Afghanistan. Amir describes the house his father, Baba, had built as “the most beautiful” in the district in which they lived. Hassan, in contrast, was from a low-income family from a minority ethnicity, Hazara. Following a detailed description of his own opulent surroundings, Amir then reveals that Hassan’s family lives in the servant’s quarters and that the latter’s “father,” Ali, is seriously subordinate to Baba. Finally, Hassan is a half-brother to Amir, courtesy of Baba’s infidelity.

While the two boys certainly grew up together and played together, the friendship was largely a one-way street. Amir was born into comfort, Hassan into the permanent lower caste of this society. More importantly, Hassan represented in the eyes of Amir’s father everything that Baba wanted in a son: bravery, toughness, resourcefulness, loyalty. And Amir knew that he was failing to live up to his own father’s expectations with respect to these attributes. This, combined with the truth of Hassan's parentage, more than any other factor, bred resentment in Amir toward Hassan. This is why the relationship cannot be considered a friendship. As Amir notes at one point early in the story, “Hassan never denied me anything.” Amir, in contrast, denied Hassan everything, which leads to the lifetime of guilt Amir will harbor within himself. Amir’s failure to come to Hassan’s aid when his “friend” and half-brother was being raped by Assef, the brutal and deeply racist antagonist in Hosseini’s novel, marks the greatest betrayal imaginable. Hassan was as good a friend to Amir as possible; Amir enjoyed playing with Hassan, but his resentment toward him undermined the integrity of their relationship.

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Explain the friendship between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

Amir and Hassan grew up together and were as close as brothers. They would fly kites, watch movies, read books, and play throughout Kabul as children. They spent seemingly every waking moment during the summertime together. However, Amir was never allowed to openly acknowledge that Hassan was his friend because Hassan was a Hazara and he was a Pashtun. Society's expectations prevented Amir from expressing his true feelings about Hassan and thus he could not embrace him as his best friend. Despite Amir's amiability for his friend, he develops jealousy toward Hassan because Baba seems to favor him. As a child, Amir did not know that Hassan was actually his half-brother. Unfortunately, Amir witnesses Hassan being raped by Assad and does not intervene, which leaves Amir feeling extremely guilty and traumatized. Amir no longer wants to be friends with Hassan and attempts to get him kicked out of their home. Decades later, Amir has a revealing conversation with Rahim Khan regarding his past, and Amir learns that Hassan was his half-brother. 

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Explain the friendship between Amir and Hassan in The Kite Runner.

The word "friendship" is important concerning the relationship between Amir and Hassan. Amir can never quite bring himself to call Hassan his friend: Because of his lowly Hazara heritage, Hassan is relegated to a second-class status in Kabul, and Amir cannot get past this division of society. Instead of following his heart, he listens to the taunts of soldiers and schoolmates, who constantly remind him of Hassan's and Ali's role as servants and not equals. Part of Amir's philosophy comes from Baba.

... in none of his stories did Baba ever refer to Ali as his friend.  (Chapter Four)

And as a young child, Amir feels especially close to Hassan.

... we were kids who had learned to crawl together, and no history, ethnicity, society or religion was going to change that either.  (Chapter Four)

Amir spends all of his free hours away from school with Hassan, telling him stories and flying kites, and the two are virtually inseparable. But peer pressure and jealousy cloud Amir's vision, and when Hassan is forced to defend Amir from Assef and his thugs, Amir wants to tell them that

... he's not my friend!... He's my servant!  (Chapter Four)

Although Hassan is Amir's servant, the Hazara boy also serves as Amir's protector, and when Amir's cowardice prevents him from coming to Hassan's aid when he is sodomized by Assef, Amir can no longer live with Hassan serving as a daily reminder of his actions. It is only many years later that he comes to realize that Hassan was more than a servant: Hassan was Amir's friend--and his brother.

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In The Kite Runner, what factors contribute to the strained relationship between Amir and Hassan?

While neither Amir nor Hassan is aware of the fact as they are growing up, Baba is the father of both boys. That undercurrent is likely to have been felt by both, although neither had any explanation for it. Amir does not understand why Hassan, who is a mere servant, receives Baba's unconditional approval and what seems to be and actually is love. Of course, Amir as a child is strikingly unlovable in many ways. He is an envious and cowardly child, but with intelligence and imagination that Baba does not appear to appreciate very much. The contrast in the way Baba treats the boys makes me wonder about Baba's marriage to Amir's mother and his relationship to Hassan's mother, Sanaubar.  This is sheer speculation on my part, but it is likely that, given the time and place, Baba's marriage to Sofia, Amir's mother, was an arranged one. And while Baba bragged about Sofia to Amir, it might have been a loveless match, while Baba's relationship with Sanaubar might have been one of love, not just lust. Furthermore, since Sofia died in childbirth, it is also possible that subconsciously, Baba resents Amir for having been "responsible" for her death. All of these undercurrents could have swirled around Amir and Hassan in their childhoods together, making for an uneasy relationship.

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In The Kite Runner, what factors contribute to the strained relationship between Amir and Hassan?

"Amir is a privileged Pastun, Hassan one of the despised minority Hazaras.  Amir is guilty of "the petty cruelties that privilege invites, the risk of these escalating into betrayals with far-reaching consequences, and the way loving devotion can become masochistic submission" is evident in the way Hassan serves Amir.  Their relationship is further strained because Hassan is a servant.  He and Amir are "friends" and play together but there are many evidences that Amir abuses this friendship and "plays" with Hassan's devotion to him.  The friendship is put into further strain when Amir observes Hassan being raped and does nothing to stop it and later does not tell anyone what he has seen.  The guilt that Amir suffers from creates an insurmountable wall between the two boys.

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How does Amir and Hassan's friendship in The Kite Runner develop major themes?

Amir and Hassan's friendship relates to several themes in The Kite Runner. The first is the way in which different ethnic minorities are treated in Afghanistan at the time. Hassan is from the Hazara ethnic minority, while Amir is from the Pashtun group. As Amir reads in a book in his father's study, the Pashtuns have long persecuted the Hazara. It turns out that both Amir and Hassan have the same father (Baba), but their different treatment in society shows the effects of ethnic prejudice on children and their fates.

Another theme related to the boys' friendship is that of redemption. Amir is jealous of his friend and treats him unfairly by trying to make Hassan seem guilty of theft (while Hassan is innocent). Though Amir is not able to redeem himself in Hassan's lifetime, Amir eventually saves and adopts Hassan's son, an act of redemption. The progression of their friendship, even after Hassan has died, allows Amir to eventually try to make amends to his friend.

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How does Amir and Hassan's friendship in The Kite Runner develop major themes?

Some of the major themes that relate to Amir and Hassan's friendship include innocence, sacrifice, and guilt. As innocent children, Amir and Hassan enjoy going to the movies, reading together, and playing in the pomegranate tree on Baba's property. Despite their different ethnicities, the boys live carefree lives and enjoy each other's company. Hassan is depicted as an innocent, morally-upright boy, who makes several sacrifices for Amir as a child. Hassan selflessly defends Amir from Assef by pointing a slingshot directly at Assef's eye, and he also promises Amir that he will return with their opponent's blue kite at the end of the kite-fighting tournament. However, Amir does not sacrifice anything for Hassan as a child and refuses to intervene as he watches Hassan being raped by Assef.

After Hassan is raped, both boys lose their childhood innocence, and guilt negatively affects their friendship. Amir is overwhelmed with guilt and can no longer be around Hassan after he witnesses his friend's assault. Their friendship is eventually destroyed because of Amir's guilt, and Hassan leaves Baba's estate with his father. As an adult, Amir travels back to Afghanistan and atones for his past sins by saving Hassan's son, Sohrab, from a difficult life in Taliban-controlled Kabul. Amir finally frees himself of guilt by sacrificing everything in order to save and adopt Sohrab. Although Amir never had a chance to repair his friendship with Hassan, he finds redemption by sacrificing his comfortable life in America to save Hassan's son.

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