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Theme of Betrayal in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner shows us a variety of themes depicted throughout the story, most noticeably the theme of betrayal. The theme of betrayal revolves around Amir and his best “friend” Hassan. We see Amir turn against Hassan because of his own fears, guilt, and desires to gain his father’s acceptance get the better of him. Because of Amir’s selfishness, we see the story unfold in a negative way as it affects both Amir and Hassan emotionally and physically.

Leading up to the events of Hassan’s rape, we see we see Hassan be nothing but loyal to Amir and stands up for him when times get tough. For example, Hassan’s loyalty is truly shown with the first confrontation with Assef and his gang. Assef is a known local bully that torments kids and even adults; when Amir and Hassan meet Assef, Amir is instantly threatened and is almost assulted but Hassan steps in and saves Amir with his slingshot. Despite being a Hazara, Hassan knows what he needs to do in order to save his best friend even if it means putting his own life in danger. This confrontation shows us Hassan’s willingness to step up to the plate and show his loyalty, but it also exposes Amir in the process.

As I stated earlier, Amir’s fears and guilt get the better of him; Amir was afraid of Assef and the repercussions to come if he stood up for Hassan. Out of his own fear, Amir is unable to act on his own and relies on the assistance of Hassan which ultimately makes Hassan a future target for Assef and it is made known when Assef stated “Your Hazara made a big mistake today, Amir”. After the confrontation with Assef, Amir is faced with guilt for not only failing to stand up to Assef but failing to support Hassan, Amir’s guilt comes from almost betraying Hassan. Assef’s statement “How can you call him your ‘friend’?” is a very important point in the book as it makes Amir question the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Out of mere defence Amir almost blurts out “But he is not my friend! He is my servant!” Amir’s reasoning and thinking of Hassan is one of the books first acts of betrayal, and it is a very pivotal point for both Hassan and Amir.

During the event of Hassan’s rape, Amir had a big decision to make, between what is right and what is wrong. Amir knew the right decision was to help “return the favor” and stop Assef from hurting Hassan even if it meant putting his own life in danger, but out of jealousy and desire to please his father Amir chose the kite over Hassan which was in Amir’s mind the “key to Baba’s heart”. Amir’s decision for not standing up for Hassan was because throughout the book we see Amir always trying to impress Baba but never succeeded. An example of this is when Amir goes to show Baba the story he has written, Baba shows “little more than feigned interest” in the story and proceeded to walk away. So when the time came for the Kite Tournament it was Amir chance to finally impress Baba and Hassan knew it meant so much to Amir and supported him all the way. After the event of Hassan’s rape, Amir is overwhelmed with guilt. He knows that leaving Hassan in the alley was the wrong thing to do, but his selfishness and desire to gain his fathers approval was more important than Hassan’s well being. Amir’s idea for betraying Hassan was because “Nothing is free in this world. . Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba” because in the end “He was just a Hazara”. Hassan’s physical damage is a representation of Amir’s betrayal, in Amir’s mind he made the right decision because he finally had a chance to impress his Father and the only way to do it was to bring back the lost kite. Because of the incident Amir begins to question his morals and values towards his once best friend Hassan. Amir always falls back on the idea that he was too scared to stop Assef save Hassan but in reality Amir only wanted one thing and that one thing was to gain Baba’s respect and acknowledgement.

The last major act of betrayal Amir does towards Hassan was framing Hassan for stealing and hiding Amir’s birthday money and watch. The immense guilt and jealousy Amir feels is overwhelming for him and we see that Amir will do anything to have Hassan get “pay back” and get in trouble so they could be even again. But despite Amir’s plan to get back at Hassan, it backfires as Hassan openly admits to taking the watch and money. Amir is shocked by Hassan’s response, at that moment Amir realizes why Hassan took the blame because “He knew I had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing me once again, maybe for the last time”. Out of shame Ali and Hassan leave for good. Despite having Hassan gone from the house, Amir thinks the guilt will go away and everything will go back to normal; but in reality it doesn’t. The guilt Amir feels gets even worse, the effect of Hassan leaving causes Amir deep emotional pain because he knows what he did to Hassan will never be redeemable.

In conclusion Amir’s fears, guilts, and desires ultimately led to Amir’s betrayal and the downfall of Amir’s and Hassan’s friendship. Failing to stand up to Assef out of fear was the novel’s first act of betrayal, we see Amir question the reality of their friendship and what it really means to be a friend and stand up for what is right. Next was the act of guilt, Amir’s guilt comes from almost betraying Hassan in the first confrontation with Assef and secondly with not being honest with Hassan from the very beginning. Finally was Amir’s desire to gain Babas acceptance, out of jealousy and selfishness we see Amir go through many attempts to achieve Baba’s acknowledgement even if it meant betraying his so called best friends in the process.

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Theme Of Betrayal In The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini. (2020, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 4, 2022, from
“Theme Of Betrayal In The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2020,
Theme Of Betrayal In The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Oct. 2022].
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