Prompt #1: How does the protagonist change from a state of innocence to a state of experience?
In The Kite Runner, the increasing character relationship conflicts and political tensions change the protagonist, Amir, from a state of innocence to a state of experience throughout his trip back to Afghanistan. During his childhood, Amir and Hassan are best friends who grows up together, however, their personalities created a distinct contrast – Amir was a sheepish weakling while Hassan was a fearless friend. This is particularly shown when Amir makes the false decision after discovering that Hassan was being raped by Assef: “I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan – the way he’d stood up for me all those times in the past … Or I could run. In the end, I ran.” Although Amir runs away because he believes that “Hassan was the price he had to pay to win Baba”, he was also aspired to cowardice and afraid of getting hurt from Assef. In addition, this poor decision proves the lack of maturity in Amir, because he doesn’t realize that Hassan is a true friend who is worth sacrificing for.
Twenty years later when Amir was rescuing Sohrab from the Talib official, he finds out that it is the same person who raped Hassan all those years ago – Assef. Yet this bizarre coincidence has given Amir a Coming-of-Age chance as he confronts the fight against Assef: “What he fished out of that pocket didn’t surprise me one bit: stainless-steel brass knuckles.” The brass knuckles symbolizes violence because Assef always put on it when he fights. Eventually Amir was defeated, but his brave attempt has successfully rescued Sohrab and he transitioned from a state of innocence to a state of experience. Now, Amir is no longer a coward who abandons his friend and runs away from danger; He is a brave person who can stand up to challenges.
Amir is also innocent because he is oblivious to the real life in Afghanistan. Although Amir grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan, he is constantly sheltered by Baba, a wealthy and powerful merchant, who helps the poor every chance he had. Seeing Baba helps the poor by operating orphanage and giving beggars’ money has persuaded a false sense to Amir that the poverty levels in Afghanistan are relatively low. For instance, while Amir and Farid pass by small villages and broken mud houses on the car ride to Kabul, Amir claims: “I feel like a tourist in my own city,” Farid then responses: “That’s the Afghanistan I know. You? You’ve always been a tourist here, you just didn’t know it.” Their conversation explicitly proves that Amir feels strange and unfamiliar for seeing shabby buildings, because he grows up in the rich area of Kabul, surrounded by big houses and nice backyards.
Ultimately, Amir is awaken from this falsehood as he travels back to Afghanistan twenty years later. Amir’s journey back to Afghanistan allows him a chance to expose the real war-torn environment of Afghanistan. This time, he is exposed to the real war-torn environment of Afghanistan as he stays at Wahid’s house, gives beggar money, and rescues Sohrab from Assef. In particular, Amir realizes the real Afghanistan during his visit to the orphanage. He learns that most of the orphans’ fathers died during the war, and their mothers cannot raise them because the Talib don’t allow them to work. The orphanage is filled beyond capacity with insufficient supplies: no clean water, no beds, and no food. The orphanage’s situation suggests the overall context of Afghanistan. Amir realizes that his false sense about poverty levels is absurd, because conflicts and poverty are serious crisis in Afghanistan.
Prompt #2: What decision does your protagonist make?
Throughout the novel, Amir makes many life-changing decisions. However, the two most significant decisions that Amir had made was to run away when Hassan was being raped.
The biggest decision was the moment when Amir betrayed Hassan. It is a false decision, yet significant. When Amir sees that Hassan was being raped by Assef in the alley, instead of standing up for Hassan like the way he had stood up for Amir in the past, the protagonist makes the decision of running away cowardly because he was afraid of Assef. This decision is a moment of betrayal and cowardliness, and has been planted deep inside his heart like a seed, as he states on the first page: “That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” This quote indicates that Amir regrets his decision, and has led to the other significant decision of travelling back to Afghanistan for atoning this awful decision.
Twenty years later, Amir makes the decision of travelling back to Kabul to right the past wrongs against Hassan, the only true friend he ever had. This decision is very significant as it provides Amir a chance to atone for his guilt. In particular, Amir overcomes his guilt during the fight against Assef. “I don’t know at what point I started laughing, but I did. … And the harder I laughed, the harder he kicked me, punched me, scratched me.” Amir’s laughter implies that he feels relieved through the beating, because he finally atones for his sins. Thus, Amir welcomes the fight: “I laughed because I saw that, in some hidden nook in a corner of my mind, I’ve even been looking forward to this.” Amir looks forward to the beating not because he wants to win, but because he is willing to receive his punishment. Eventually his body is broken, yet his mind is psychologically healed.
Prompt #3: Does your protagonist undergo any rites of passage?
Amir’s childhood relies on Baba. In fact, the most important lesson that Baba teaches Amir is to be an independent man. Baba notices that Amir always rely on Hassan whenever the neighbourhood teases him, therefore Baba claims: “A boy who can’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.” This shows that Amir is being teased because he never stands up for himself. He is vulnerable and constantly relies on the help of others. However, Amir has finally embraced independence after his marriage and Baba’s death.
Shortly after Amir and Soraya Taheris are engaged, in Chapter 13, Amir and Baba attend the traditional ceremony of “giving word” at Soraya’s house. Then, the two families planned the wedding ceremony quickly. Baba spends $35,000, nearly the balance of his life savings, for renting an Afghan banquet hall, buying the wedding ring, Amir’s tuxedo, and other necessities. On the wedding ceremony, with the veil over Amir and Soraya’s heads, they gaze at each other’s reflections in the mirror, and Amir whispered to Soraya for the first time that he loved her.
Unfortunately, Baba dies shortly after the marriage. During his funeral, Amir realizes: “My whole life, I had been “Baba’s son.” Now he was gone. Baba couldn’t show me the way anymore; I’d have to find it on my own.” This implies that Amir has been defined by Baba and the marks he had left on people’s lives. Now that Amir loses Baba and becomes fully independent, he has to build his own reputation with his new family.
Prompt #4: Does your protagonist ultimately finds his “place” in the adult world?
Ultimately, Amir finds his “place” in the adult world. First, he has a stable career; After he flees to California, he becomes a successful writer and publishes several novels. He also travels back to Kabul to mend his past mistakes.
Before, Amir is unconfident and doubts his “place”. Growing up with his servant Hassan, Amir notices that Baba favours Hassan more than himself. He is even miserable and disappointed because of the cold stares that Baba constantly gives him. This leads to his envious feeling towards Hassan, and he even discriminates Hassan. For instance, when Hassan points out the Plot Hole in Amir’s writing, Amir ponders: “What does he know, that illiterate Hazara? … How dare he criticize you?” The quote clearly shows that Amir discriminates Hassan as an illiterate Hazara, because he envies Hassan’s intelligence. Amir believes that Hassan’s talents have threated his “place” in Baba’s heart, thus he is miserable for his “place”.
Ultimately, Amir finds his “place” as a grateful person who cares about those less fortunate. During his journey back to Kabul, Amir is exposed to the real Afghanistan and he realizes the plight of those less fortunate. When Amir was staying overnight at Wahid’s house, he hears that Wahid serves him the only food he could offer and left his children starving. Therefore the next morning, Amir does something: “I planted a fistful of crumpled money under a mattress.” This implies that Amir realizes the plight of Wahid’s family, and he contributes secretly by putting money under a mattress not only to express his gratitude, but also to care for those less fortunate.
Now that Amir finds his “place”, he begins to apply it on a daily basis after his return to USA with Sohrab. For instance, there are many controversial gossips about Sohrab’s arrival in the Afghan community. Even General Sahrib, Amir’s father-in-law, questions Amir: “People will ask. They will want to know why there is a Hazara boy living with our daughter. What do I tell them?” While Amir explains to General Sahrib, he also adds explicitly: “You will never refer to Sohrab as ‘Hazara boy’ in my presence. He has a name and it’s Sohrab.” Their dialogue conveys that Amir no longer discriminates others; Instead, he treats those less fortunate with respect and kindness.
In addition, since Sohrab symbolically represents Hassan, it also shows that Amir now treats Hassan equally. Another example is when Amir flies kite with Sohrab, he states: “For you, a thousand times over.” This quote indicates that Amir is proving his love and devotion to Sohrab, just as Hassan was proving his devotion and loyalty to Amir when he utters that twenty years ago. Amir no longer envies and discriminates Hassan because he now clearly know his “place” in the adulthood.
Amir’s journey back to Afghanistan helps himself to understand the great contrast between different parts of the world.
While Amir was finding Sohrab with Zamaan, he encounters a beggar on the street, Dr. Raul, and hands him a hundred thousand Afghanis.
Eventually, he defines his “place” not as a timid coward, but a caring person who is willing to contribute to the less-fortunate part of the world.
Amir – Before and After
– Vulnerable and irresponsible
– Envious of Hassan
– Responsible (married)
– Good to Sohrab
– Accepts minorities