Friday, October 26, 2007

[Essay] The Kite Runner

So yeah, this is the first essay I've written this year for the expressed purpose of practice alone.

It was a disaster.


It went way over time, way over the unspoken word limit, and is probably largely a jumble of nonsense. Future essays should be better, please don't get turned off reading them -.-"

I just felt like it would be a waste to delete it, so i'll just post it here.

Part 1

Baba sighed, “It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime, Amir.” To what extent was Baba prophetic?

Khaled Hosseni’s novel The Kite Runner is one full of twists and turns, especially in the lives of his characters. It epitomizes the transient nature of humanity, and how quickly and suddenly the “course of a whole lifetime” can be redirected or shattered, simply by the presence or occurrence of one or two key events, that could take place in but a single day. Amir’s life is repeatedly subjected to these key events, events that shape and reshape the course of Amir’s life, his mindset, and ultimately his values. During Hassan’s rape on the day he won the kite running tournament, Amir’s inaction in response to that horrific act left him and his conscience scarred for life. Amir’s consequent set up of Hassan and Ali, in another selfish act to purge himself of his wrongdoing by attempting to rid himself of Hassan, resulted in both his and Baba’s devastation at the loss of people who symbolised a part of their childhood, their life. Rahim Khan’s call, convincing Amir to return to Kabul to “redeem” himself was another turning point in Amir’s life, leading up to his eventual confrontation with Assef, the catharsis of the novel in a sense. All these events, most of them arguably unfair, took place in the space of no more than a few days, yet each holds more significance in Amir’s life than the rest of it together, based on the author’s portrayal of this character. Baba’s statement holds true throughout the novel with respect to Amir’s life, and may be considered highly prophetic.

The first of the key events in Amir’s life, and possibly the most significant, was witnessing Hassan’s rape as a bystander, while doing nothing to stop it. Throughout Amir’s childhood, Hassan has been portrayed as a loyal servant, yet at the same time, a friend to Amir. His Hazara birthright dictated that this would be his place in society, and he accepted it graciously, serving Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy, with all his heart, despite their similarity in age. Amir treated this pseudo-“friendship” with a certain degree of contempt, likely due to the fact that at the same time, Hassan was his servant, less educated, less worthy than he was. What he yearned for instead, with greater passion than anything else throughout his childhood, was the acknowledgement and “Baba’s love”, something which he felt was not present in sufficient quantity in his life. The fact that Baba showed uncanny interest in the well-being of Hassan, his servant, did nothing to relieve Amir of this burden in himself. When the time came and the strength of the bond between Hassan and Amir was tested, it is clear that while Hassan chose his Amir’s acknowledgement in exchange for his own welfare, Amir would not do the same for Hassan, who “[was] just a Hazara. I should not be expected to defend him”. While Amir obtained his father’s love from the kite which Hassan risked his life to protect, Amir clearly cannot overcome his resulting strong conscience and sense of morality, and could only temporarily “[forget] what [he] had done”. In the space of a day, Amir’s conscience from then on was forever pitted against him, for an unfair choice he was made to make as a young boy. This is what sets up the direction of Amir’s life henceforth, triggering an unstoppable chain of events. The irony of the time it took for such a significant change to occur is perfectly exemplified in Baba’s prophecy.

As a result of Amir’s actions, he could no longer face Hassan due to the weight of his guilt and regret that he carried from that day forth. Amir’s utter remorse towards himself resulted in his mentality warping, to such a point where it was impossible for him to live together with the boy who symbolised both his childhood, and his guilt and shame. In a fit of arrogance and desperation, Amir framed Hassan with the act of stealing, one which Hazaras took very seriously among themselves in relation to themselves. Ali was forced to take Hassan and leave Baba’s service, on his pride and honour as a servant. The once proud Baba was left shattered; bitterness was rife in Hassan and Ali, who both knew of Amir’s treachery right from the beginning. Amir was left alone in a void, alone in the “depths of [his] pain”, only able to regret and grieve for his own foolishness as his conscience berated him for the rest of his life for the “blackness of grief [he] had brought on everyone”. Amir’s betrayal of Hassan, Ali, Baba, and ultimately himself once again took no more than a whim to come to fruition, corresponding to Baba’s prophetic words.

Much later, when Amir was a married, middle-aged man living in America, having escaped Afghanistan before the strife brought by the Taliban began, Amir is still haunted by his actions as a boy in Afghanistan. “Steel hands closed around [his] windpipe” upon the mention of Hassan is strong evidence that Amir has been unable to leave Hassan and his past sins behind, instead carrying them inside himself. It is only after Amir is settled in his life in America that Rahim Khan, an old friend of Baba, calls him with a proposition: “a way to be good again”. Rahim Khan implied in his call that he knew everything that Amir had been ashamed about, and Amir’s decision was a difficult one, whether he should continue covering up his past or face his shame and guilt back in the “city of hare-lipped ghosts”, which he eventually chose the latter because of the pull of his conscience, and flew back to Pakistan and Kabul to face the “ghosts of [his] past”. The simple phone call by Rahim Khan resulted in some very deep-set and complex emotions in Amir being triggered, ultimately altering his life’s path altogether simply by convincing Amir to go to Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the plot reaches a catharsis when Amir is forced to confront Assef in a fight to take Sohrab, Hassan’s son, back, foreshadowed by the confrontations he had with Assef back in his childhood. Sohrab represented redemption and hope to Amir, the key to reconciling his past sins and guilt of how he wronged Hassan. As Amir was getting beaten by Assef he felt a sort of purging as a result of it, a “sense of peace” and “healing”. Amir felt that this beating was what he deserved as punishment, and it gave him a new level of emotional freedom, as he had never experienced since “the winter of 1975”. The moment of calm and joy Amir experienced changed him forever, and from then onward he felt as if he could finally forgive himself for the wrongs he committed against the now late Hassan. He took Sohrab into his care after rescuing him, the embodiment of hope and new lease of life in Amir’s life. However, the actual process of ‘restoring’ Sohrab was one that took a lot longer than a short period of time. Even at the end of the novel it is clear that Amir and Sohrab’s relationship is by no means complete or even close. This is proof that not all significant events happen in short time frames, but can take up to whole lifetimes to “melt the snow”, “one snowflake at a time”. While it took only a few moments for Amir to regain the peace and tranquillity within himself, he will probably spend the rest of his life continuously making up for Hassan in the form of his relationship with Sohrab.

The Kite Runner is proof of the volatility of life and direction in people and characters, and the power and significance of “what happens”. Baba’s prophetic words have been repeatedly proven true in the novel, especially in his own son Amir’s life, that it only takes “a few days” for life to undergo complete transformation. However, this is not always the case for all life-changing events, and many of them may take a much longer time to come to terms with or accomplish.

56 comments:

David Jin said...

You know for some reason this essay seems really familiar...

gee_cee0 said...

Really =/

Well, you've probably seen many of Emily's Kite Runner essays... Otherwise, there's no reason for it to be.

Wrote this over a time period of three hours which included helping people with spec, playing games and chatting. If it's bad, you know why.

It's just really long imo =/

David Jin said...

True, and it sort of seems like the Wikipedia summary sort of.

But like, shouldn't there be some variance if different people write essays on the same book? (It is a book yeah? Not a movie? Books still exist in VCE Right? Right?!)

I think you should be a rebel! Write something that doesn't follow the norm! As long as you back it up with evidence, you're perfectly ok!

gee_cee0 said...

Lol... What is this 'book' you speak of?

But well, Kite Runner doesn't really have many interpretations lol >.< it's not something like Hamlet that's all ambiguous and QQ.

This one is just meh. There's underlying themes, but once you find them, there's only one way of putting it, if you know what I mean.

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Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your essay very much. Its well written and engaging, bu the only thing i think was lacking in your thesis was a tieback as to why this is important to the author's purpose in writing. Including that will add the final shine to your essay. Great Job!

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