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An individual’s personality is quite often determined by the actions and remarks of another person. One can become timid because another person has caused one hurt or worry. One can become brave because another person has made one fight for position or pride. No matter what the case, these actions help to create the identity of the person that reflects on the actions. In the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Amir’s character continuously changes, as the novel progresses, from a coward to a hero, from a heavy feeling of guilt to the weightless feeling of redemption. Throughout the novel, Rahim Khan is most responsible for determining Amir’s personality by being a father-like figure and mentor, by acting as a conscience when Amir moved away and by guiding Amir away from his guilt and back to his true character.
The character of Amir was greatly influenced by Rahim Khan as a father-like figure in Amir’s life. Because Baba, Amir’s father, always wanted a perfect son who was big and strong, Baba was always criticizing Amir and he wished Amir would be more like himself. Rahim Khan, Baba’s long time business partner and friend, always felt compassion for Amir, but knew that Amir was never going to live up to his father’s expectations in a physical sense. When Baba would neglect Amir, Rahim Khan would be there for Amir to talk to and Amir described him as “Baba’s quiet alter ego, my writing mentor, my pal” (Hosseini 104). Amir always had a strong passion for writing and when Baba rejected Amir’s ideas and stories that he had written, again, Rahim Khan was the person that Amir could go to for advice, help and wisdom. As a gift for Amir’s birthday, Rahim Khan encouraged Amir’s writing talent by giving him a notebook that Amir described very vividly as, “A brown leather-bound notebook, I traced my fingers along the gold-colored stitching on the borders. I smelled the leather. ‘For your stories’, he said” (106). The gift of the notebook from Rahim Khan to Amir symbolizes the confidence and optimism that Rahim Khan had in Amir, not only in writing but also in living up to his father’s expectations. Even though Baba disapproved of Amir’s passion for story writing, Rahim Khan constantly reassured him that Amir was going to grow up and impress him, especially when he said, “‘You just need to let him find his way'” (24). In addition to seeing Rahim Khan as a mentor, Amir referred to Rahim Khan as “the first grown up I ever thought of as a friend” (201), which portrays him as not only a person of great knowledge but also someone that Amir trusted tremendously. As a mentor to Amir, Rahim Khan helped shape Amir’s personality.
Rahim Khan influenced Amir’s personality not only as a mentor, but also as a model of Amir’s conscience. After the primary story changing event of Hassan’s rape, Amir felt a great deal of guilt because he felt he could have prevented the rape and saved Hassan from extreme humiliation and torture. Although Rahim Khan was not present for the incident, he could tell that something was not right with Amir, something was slightly off. Rahim Khan could tell that Amir was feeling down-in-the-dumps and he comforted Amir when he was upset. Amir’s guilt stayed with him until one day, after he and Baba moved to the United States of America for safety, when Rahim Khan called Amir and said, “Come. There is a way to be good again” (202). As the thought of Hassan hung in his head, that was the moment that Amir caught sight that Rahim Khan knew what happened that terrible day back in Afghanistan. It wasn’t until the moment Amir saw Rahim Khan in person that he knew for sure Rahim Khan knew the cause of that long, lingering guilt that lie in Amir’s heart. Amir says, “And again, something in his bottomless black eyes hinted at an unspoken secret between us. Except now I knew he knew” (202), when describing his first meeting with Rahim Khan after many years of being apart. Rahim Khan acts as Amir’s conscience by knowing what the right thing to do was, Amir was solely in charge of choosing the right act. From the moment of the rape, Rahim Khan strived to help Amir redeem himself and when the opportunity arose, he called Amir immediately to help with one last act of wisdom. Amir characterizes Rahim Khan as “one of the most instinctive people I’d ever met” (208) and from this description, Amir realized that Rahim Khan knew all along, he was trying to help him over come his guilt and redeem himself. As a conscience, Rahim Khan affects Amir’s personality by guiding him towards the right choice and the road to redemption.
As well as a father-like figure and conscience to Amir in his life, Rahim Khan also acted as a guide or teacher to Amir, specifically guiding Amir away from his lifelong feeling of remorse and towards a satisfying feeling of redemption. Rahim Khan steered Amir towards a path of goodness by inviting him back to Afghanistan to save Hassan’s son, Sohrab, and to redeem himself for both his own sake and the sake of Sohrab. In Rahim Khan’s letter to Amir, he writes, “A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer. I hope your suffering comes to an end with this journey to Afghanistan” (315). By this, Rahim Khan means that without the feeling of guilt that is contained inside of Amir, he will return to happiness and he will overcome this guilt by rescuing the son of the Hazara boy, who he initially betrayed and internally wounded. Before Amir returned to Afghanistan, the feeling of guilt was tucked away in his heart, behind this mysterious new feeling of love he found for his wife, Soraya. But as soon as he saw Rahim Khan, who began sharing stories of Hassan the past few years, “those thorny old barbs of guilt bore into me once more, as if speaking his name had broken a spell, set them free to torment me anew” (212), and as difficult as they were to avoid, the feelings came rushing back to his mind with an undesirable easiness. Once again, Amir felt all the original emotions of trauma, fear and then guilt that engulfed his head the moment of the rape. Rahim Khan led Amir away from his past and towards a new, better version of himself through the rescue of Sohrab. Rahim Khan knew that Amir would overcome the guilt and in the end, one reason Amir conquered his guilt was because of the words from Rahim Khan’s letter, “Forgive your father if you can. Forgive me if you wish. But, most important, forgive yourself” (316) and “that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good” (316). Amir finally realized the reason Rahim Khan had been helping him and guiding him back to a guilt free life by saving Sohrab, to redeem himself. Rahim Khan helped to mold Amir’s character as a young boy and helped remold Amir’s personality after Hassan’s rape by guiding him away from his regret filled past and towards truly redeeming himself.
The personality of Amir is most determined by Rahim Khan and his actions as a mentor and father-like figure, as a conscience for Amir after Hassan’s rape and as a teacher, guiding Amir to overcome the great emotion of guilt and be a better person in The Kite Runner. As a character, Amir evolved from a selfish, young boy to a responsible, righteous man, as the story progressed. Rahim Khan influenced Amir the most to be good again and to find ways to redeem himself. It was, evidently, Rahim Khan who most inspired Amir to get rid of his guilt, to pursue his writing career and ultimately shaped Amir’s final personality.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Los Angeles : Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.
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