The quest for redemption makes up much of the novel’s plot, and expands as a theme to include both the personal and the political. Throughout his childhood, Amir’s greatest struggle was to redeem himself to Baba for “killing” his mother during childbirth, and for growing up a disappointing son who was unlike Baba himself. After Hassan’s rape, Amir spends the rest of his life trying to redeem himself for his betrayal of his loyal friend. This ultimately culminates in Amir’s return to Afghanistan and his attempts to save and adopt Hassan’s son Sohrab.
After Amir learns of Baba’s betrayal of Ali, Amir realizes that Baba was probably trying to redeem his adultery through his many charitable activities and strong principles in later life. Amir is also able to find a kind of redemption in his bloody fight with Assef (Hassan’s rapist), and his adoption of Sohrab. Hosseini subtly connects these personal quests for redemption to Afghanistan itself. Despite its violent and corrupted past, Hosseini hopes for a redemption for his country someday.
Redemption 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.
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.
I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with. I opened my mouth and almost told her how I’d betrayed Hassan, lied, driven him out, and destroyed a forty-year relationship between Baba and Ali. But I didn’t.
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.
My suspicions had been right all those years. He knew about Assef, the kite, the money, the watch with the lightning bolt hands. He had always known.
Come. There is a way to be good again, Rahim Khan had said on the phone just before hanging up.
“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.
Another rib snapped, this time lower. What was so funny was that, for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that, in some hidden nook in the corner of my mind, I’d even been looking forward to this… My body was broken – just how badly I wouldn’t find out until later – but I felt healed.
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.”
If someone were to ask me today whether the story of Hassan, Sohrab, and me ends with happiness, I wouldn’t know what to say.
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.