The Portrait of Amir. Sanzhita Zabanova, 4th year student, BSU, Ulan-Ude

The character I am going to analyze is from an outstanding book The Kite Runnerby Khaled Hosseini. His name is Amir. But firstly, I want to give a brief summary of the story.

The story tells about difficult times for Afghanistan: the fall of the Afghanistan monarchy, the invasion of the Soviet’s, the rush of refugees moving to Pakistan and the United States, and lastly the rise of the Taliban. The main character is Amir, a Pashtun boy who grew up in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. We observe his life, full of happiness, betrayal, bitterness and atonement.

Amir is the narrator of this story and the dynamic character.As the story is written in first-person narrator, we can see that the story seems very personal.

In the story we observe 3 stages of his character: 1. his childhood in Afghanistan; 2. as a young Man in Fremont, California and 3.  a grown Man in Kabul, Afghanistan 2001.

Born in Kabul in 1963, Amir was the son of a wealthy social worker. His mother died giving birth.  Judging by the 1st chapter, we can suggest they were a rich family. They had servants, “the most beautiful house in the Wazir Akbar Khan district” and a small vegetable garden with pleasant trees. While reading the story, we can say that Amir had a rocky relationship with his father. Amir admired him. It was very important for him to get father’s favor. But because of the Baba’s business, there was little time left for Amir. Amir believed that his father felt that Amir was responsible for the death of his mother. Baba was the star of his childhood soccer team and wished the same for Amir, but Amir would rather read, and Baba was disappointed about that.

Amir was extremely envious toward anyone who had Baba’s attention. On a trip to Ghargha Lake, Hassan and Amir were «skimming» stones. Hassan skipped his stone eight times, whereas Amir could only manage five. «Baba was there, watching, and he patted Hassan on the back. Even put his arm around his shoulder». Seeing Baba show affection toward someone other than Amir himself just tore him apart. He was jealous.

Amir was brought up with the son of his servant, and perhaps his only best friend, Hassan. «But we were kids who had learned to crawl together, and no history, ethnicity, society, or religion was going to change that either. I spent most of the first twelve years of my life playing with Hassan. Sometimes, my entire childhood seems like one long lazy summer day with Hassan, chasing each other between tangles of trees in my father’s yard, playing hide-and-seek, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, insect torture – with our crowning achievement undeniably the time we plucked the stinger off a bee and tied a string around the poor thing to yank it back every time it took flight (p25).»- Amir

They belonged to an inferior cast. That is why Amir thought that Hassan was beneath him. The name “Amir” means the governor, Prince, which particularly suits him. He used to mock him jokingly or tried to outsmart him, giving him wrong definitions to words:

“What does that word mean?”
«Which one?»
«Imbecile»
«You don’t know what it means?» I said, grinning.
«Nay, Amir agha»
«But it’s such a common word!»
«Still, I don’t know it.» If he felt the sting of my tease, his smiling face didn’t show it.
«Well everyone in my school knows what it means,» I said. «let’s see. ‘imbecile.’ it means smart, intelligent. I’ll use it in a sentence for you. ‘When it comes to words, Hassan is an imbecile.’»

Amir played with him when other children didn’t see them. Amir had the privilege of receiving education in his childhood in Kabul, and as a result his vocabulary was richer than other characters such as Ali and Hassan (not educated). Having an interest in writing and reading many fictional books also explains why Amir’s vocabulary was far more sophisticated than those around him. It may also explain why he was so descriptive in explaining what happened, picking up on the smallest details of events (though the real reason may be because a story seems more interesting this way)

He was a coward. He saw a couple of bullies sexually assaulting Hassan but he didn’t help him. His betrayal and the sense of losing pride killed their relations and it wasn’t to be fixed.

Something really changed in Amir when he and Baba arrived in Fremont.He took care of his father, became kinder. This is not the self-centered, vindictive boy we knew in Kabul. Maybe it is because Baba focused only on Amir.

He easily forgot about his past deeds. He became whom he wanted to be, a successful writer. He met his future wife.I my opinion, she had a great influence on him.

One day Rahim Khan asked him to come to Pakistan and redeem the sins he did in his childhood.A mature Amir returned to Kabul. It seemed as if he was finally doing something good in his life. It’s almost as if the confident young adult Amir combined with the helpless and misguided childhood Amir. Fortunately, he saved Sohrab. Amir frustrates me. But I think, that’s what K. Hosseini wants us to feel. Even though we want to scream at Amir, he’s an utterly true to life character.

This story contains some autobiographical things. For example, the most prominent is that, like Amir, the author grew up admiring his father greatly and had a very intense desire to please him.he says in the interview:I think his brand of admiration borders on the pathological. Fatherhood in Afghanistan is a greatly revered institution. When people identify someone they say, ‘He’s the son of so-and-so…’ and they always mention the father. Tribal identity also comes from the father. So like a lot of Afghan kids I grew up revering my dad.

As for the interests there is a lot in common between Amir and the author. K. Hosseini admits in the interview that Amir and I also developed a love for reading and writing at an early age. And just like Amir, when I was a kid I used to love going to the theater to see Hindi and American films.

The author has an old father’s house in Wazir Akbar Khan where he grew up. He has a brother-in-law. His family moved to America with the same reason.

Speaking about prototypes of the main characters, the author recalls one episode from his childhood: It involved a kid named Moussa, who was also an ethnic Hazara. Moussa lived with his mother across the street from us in a partially constructed home. The neighborhood was called Wazir Akbar Khan. So this kid and his mother were living across the street from us. One day, I was maybe ten years old, my brother and I were sitting on our garden wall when we noticed Moussa across the street in the yard of his place. The guy who was a cook for my family at the time walked out, saw us playing, and said, ‘Oh, is that Moussa over there?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He nodded and said, kind of casually — and forgive me for saying this — ‘You know I’ve been fucking him for the last month.’ My brother and I didn’t know what that meant. We asked around and eventually found out. We never told anybody. I guess we were scared of the cook. And even back then I think we realized if we had told it was quite possible no one would have cared. The character that ended up being Hassan was a fusion of these two people: Hussein Khan and Moussa. Once he came to life, so did his alter ego, Amir, who then turned out to be the protagonist and the voice of the novel — the person to whom the story’s moral dilemmas present themselves.

Another interesting fact, which shows how Amir and the author are the same is the treatment of Afghanistan when they go back to visit it. There is a line in the book where Amir says to his guide: I feel like a tourist in my own country. To a large extent I (K. Hosseini)  did as well, when I returned to Kabul, says the author.

I like the book very much. I like Amir as a character, in spite of his mistakes and minuses. The Kite Runner is a complex story.The author raises difficult and important problems such as cultural, religious, political and historical.  I think it is a popular novel, and the reason is that it is a very human story. I will advise all my friends and relatives to read this great and ambiguous story.

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