What is Amir's hero's journey in The Kite Runner when he returns to Afghanistan?

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The hero's journey of Amir's trip back to Afghanistan involves the rescue of Sohrab following Rahim Khan's statement, “There is a way to be good again.” Amir recognizes the physical and spiritual dangers of returning to Afghanistan. Sohrab, as a Hazara Muslim, is persecuted there, which could (and does) lead to danger. The trip will also make painful memories that have never left him even more acute. Yet Amir agrees to go because he hopes for redemption.

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Typically, a hero's journey involves a person who journeys on a potentially perilous adventure, which tests their character and strength against an enemy and hopefully leads to a successful conquest and return. The hero’s journey, or monomyth, also transforms the hero. The hero also receives a call to action by a third-party source.

In The Kite Runner, the hero's journey of Amir’s trip back to Afghanistan is to rescue Sohrab. The external or third-party source or messenger who provides the call to action for Amir is Rahim Khan. As Rahim Khan tells Amir, “There is a way to be good again.” In other words, Amir hopes to achieve redemption by undertaking this hero’s journey back to a dangerous place in order to help Hassan’s son. He thinks that agreeing to the request from Ramin Khan will allow him to address his “past of unatoned sins.”

The trip to Afghanistan is dangerous for Amir both physically because he will attempt to rescue Sohrab and spiritually because it will bring back all the painful memories of his childhood there growing up with Hassan by his side. It will also bring his most painful memory to the forefront, which is the memory of the day Hassan was cornered and raped in an alley by Assef and his friends and Amir did nothing to help Hassan. Amir also understands the danger of an attempt to rescue Sohrab because Sohrab is a Hazara Muslim, just as Hassan and Ali were. They are persecuted in Afghanistan, which means that an attempt to rescue Sohrab could lead to physical danger for Amir, which is what happens in the book. Yet he is willing to undertake the trip because it might lead to his redemption.

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In The Kite Runner, what are some of the changes that Amir experiences?

Amir is developed as a very dynamic character in the novel. As a boy he feels insecure in his father's love and jealous of the attention Baba pays to Hassan. His lack of physical strength and courage shame him, and his love of reading and writing make him feel isolated and unusual since Baba does not understand or encourage these pursuits. When Amir leaves Hassan to the bullies' brutal attack and later lies to get Hassan and his father out of their home, Amir's self-loathing is deepened. He lives with this guilt for many years.

After a daring escape from Afghanistan with his father, Amir begins to develop the bond with Baba that had escaped him as a child. When they settle in California, Amir grows up and accepts mutual responsibility with Baba for their economic survival. He works and contributes, which leads to other changes in his character. When Baba grows ill, dying before Amir's eyes, Amir's bond with his father grows stronger. He loves Baba and shows it as he cares for him. Amir becomes more his own man as he graduates from college, marries the girl he loves, and writes a novel worth publishing. He lives an authentic life, true to who he is and comfortable in that. 

The deepest change in Amir, however, occurs when he acts with courage, risking his life to return to a very dangerous Afghanistan in order to save Hassan's son. There he faces the bully that had so horribly assaulted Hassan, endures a terrible beating, and survives to take the boy home. Through this greatest challenge, Amir's greatest shame is taken away. He gains the deepest kind of self-respect and emerges a whole person, at last.

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How has Amir's character evolved in The Kite Runner?

Amir is the narrator and main character of The Kite Runner. He is from a privileged upbringing, and he has no unsatisfied material wants as a child. However, Amir still wishes he had a better connection with his father, Baba. Amir believes that his father wishes he were more like him. Amir becomes jealous of any people that get Baba's affection.

Hassan receives affection from Baba, which makes Amir very jealous. He begins attempting to sabotage Hassan in various ways in the hopes of eliminating his competition for Baba's love. Amir even allows Hassan to be raped, in part, because he thinks the blue kite he receives will earn him Baba's love.

However, Amir becomes very guilty over his treatment of Hassan. He realizes that his selfish behaviors do not make him happy. Instead, they steal his happiness from him. Amir decides to try and make amends for his behavior. He goes back to his home country and attempts to find Hassan's missing son, Sohrab, whom he successfully brings back to America.

Amir's relationship with Sohrab is a key example of how much he's grown over the course of the novel. By the end of the novel, he is no longer selfish. Instead, he has become selfless.

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How has Amir's character evolved in The Kite Runner?

During his childhood in Kabul, Amir grows up under the dominating hand of his father, Baba. Baba is a physically impressive man, and he is disappointed with Amir's introspective personality. Amir shuns sports and allows Hassan to fight his battles for him, a fact of which Baba is both aware and embarrassed. Amir consequently has little confidence in himself except for his imaginative writing skills, which Baba disdains. Amir also resents the attention that Baba shows Hassan, and he plants evidence which appears to show that Hassan has stolen from the family. Amir had previously refused to come to Hassan's aid when he was raped by Assef, showing a cowardice of which Amir was ashamed.

These two misdeeds against Hassan haunted Amir long after he and Baba moved to California. Although Amir and Baba's relationship improved considerably in America, Amir could never forgive himself for the deceitful acts. Even after his marriage to Soraya and his success as a writer, Amir was ashamed of his past in Afghanistan.

However, as Rahim Khan tells him, "there is a way to be good again," and Amir summons the courage to return to his homeland and find Hassan's missing son. He successfully brings Sohrab back to America and realizes at last that he has atoned for his past sins. He stands up to the Taliban and to General Taheri and, in a last token act of respect for Hassan, Amir offers to run the kite for Sohrab--just as Hassan had done so many times for him.

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What are some of the stages that Amir goes through in searching for his identity in The Kite Runner?

The stages that Amir goes through while searching for his identity are similar to the stages of the tragic hero as defined by Aristotle.  Amir begins his journey trying to be a good son who pleases his Baba.  He enters into a friendship with Hassan, and although Amir is often jealous of Hassan, he still regards Hassan as a companion.  Amir is guilty of the tragic flaw of cowardice when he fails to help Hassan in the alley way.  (It is important to note that Amir is not afraid of having harm done to him by the gang--he is afraid of what others might think of him if he were to help Hassan.  Social class and its boundaries cause Amir to abandon his moral values.)  Amir soon learns that his actions were wrong and completely his own fault, and he thus begins a journey of redemption to correct his past mistakes.  While on this journey, he searches to define his identity.  In these ways, Amir is comparable to other tragic heroes.

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How is Amir developed throughout The Kite Runner?

Amir's primary tool for characterization is revealed early on in the narrative. The call to "become good again" is something that plays an instrumental role in the characterization of Amir. This helps to establish the basic paradigm of how Amir transgressed in Afghanistan and then in coming to America failed to fully acknowledge the extent of his actions. In his return to Afghanistan, Amir recognizes that the Taliban followed years of war in an attempt to wipe out the past, remove the extent of memory. Through this, Amir's characterization develops as being a voice of dissent in this process. His collision with Assef over Sohrab is significant because it is the pinnacle of the point where Amir both battles his own erasure of the past and the political version of it in the Taliban, embodied by Assef. The fact that Amir ends up appropriating the physical injury that makes him look like Hassan and that Assef goes down thanks to the same weapon that Hassan used earlier on in life represents how Amir's characterization is one that seeks to make right that which is wrong. This is a personal quest, but one that becomes political in the chaos of Afghanistan and the unsettled nature of one's mind when struggling with issues of right and wrong. It is in this light, one of ideas and concepts concerning transgression and redemption that Amir is developed throughout the work.

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