The most important relationships in The Kite Runner involve fathers and their children, usually sons. The central relationship is between Baba and Amir, as Amir struggles to win his father’s affections and Baba tries to love a son who is nothing like him. When Amir learns that Baba is Hassan’s father as well, he realizes that Baba also had to hide his natural affection for Hassan – an illegitimate son who was also a servant, but was in many ways more like Baba than Amir was. Later in the book the relationship between Soraya and her father General Taheri becomes important as well. As a girl the independent Soraya had rebelled against her strict, traditional father.
Sohrab becomes the “son” figure of the latter part of the novel. We never see Sohrab and Hassan together, but it is explained that Hassan was a good father before his death. The father/son relationship then becomes a principal part of Amir’s redemption and growth, as he tries to become a father to Sohrab by rescuing him from Assef and adopting him. The novel ends without a neat conclusion, but it does imply that Sohrab will begin to open up to Amir, and that Amir will continue to find redemption in fatherhood.
Fathers and Children ThemeTracker
Fathers and Children Quotes in The Kite Runner
Because the truth of it was, I always felt like Baba hated me a little. And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn’t I? The least I could have done was to have had the decency to have turned out a little more like him. But I hadn’t turned out like him.
“And where is he headed?” Baba said. “A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.”
I was going to win, and I was going to run that last kite. Then I’d bring it home and show it to Baba. Show him once and for all that his son was worthy.
In the end, I ran.
I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me… 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. Was it a fair price? The answer floated to my conscious mind before I could thwart it: He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?
Listening to them, I realized how much of who I was, what I was, had been defined by Baba and the marks he had left on people’s lives… Now he was gone. Baba couldn’t show me the way anymore; I’d have to find it on my own.
As I drove, I wondered why I was different. Maybe it was because I had been raised by men; I hadn’t grown up around women and had never been exposed firsthand to the double standard with which Afghan society sometimes treated them… But I think a big part of the reason I didn’t care about Soraya’s past was that I had one of my own. I knew all about regret.
“You know, Rahim Khan said, “one time, when you weren’t around, your father and I were talking… I remember he said to me, ‘Rahim, a boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.’ I wonder, is that what you’ve become?”
As it turned out, Baba and I were more alike than I’d ever known. We had both betrayed the people who would have given their lives for us. And with that came this realization: that Rahim Khan had summoned me here to atone not just for my sins but for Baba’s too.
I loved him because he was my friend, but also because he was a good man, maybe even a great man. And this is what I want you to understand, that good, real good, was born out of your father’s remorse. Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.
Your father, like you, was a tortured soul, Rahim Khan had written. Maybe so. We had both sinned and betrayed. But Baba had found a way to create good out of his remorse. What had I done, other than take my guilt out on the very same people I had betrayed, and then try to forget it all?
“Sohrab, I can’t give you your old life back, I wish to God I could. But I can take you with me. That was what I was coming in the bathroom to tell you. You have a visa to go to America, to live with me and my wife. It’s true. I promise.”
I looked at Hassan, showing those two missing teeth, sunlight slanting on his face. Baba’s other half. The unentitled, unprivileged half. The half who had inherited what had been pure and noble in Baba. The half that, maybe, in the most secret recesses of his heart, Baba had thought of as his true son… Then I realized something: That last thought had brought no sting with it… I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.
“Do you want me to run that kite for you?”
His Adam’s apple rose and fell as he swallowed… I thought I saw him nod.
“For you, a thousand times over,” I heard myself say.
Then I turned and ran.
It was only a smile, nothing more… A tiny thing… But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting.