The paper explores the Amir, an Afghanistan national who grew up in an environment where he and his family belonged to the less dominant culture. Amir is a polio survivor and a devout Muslim who has grown in different environments, his childhood in Afghanistan and partly his adulthood in the US. As a central character, Amir paints the picture of his journey to adulthood and struggling to live in fear with the negative attitude that his belief system was contrary to that of the dominant culture. Despite the fiction nature of the story, the realism has been painted in the novel considering that it was written drawing references from the Pre-Taliban and pre-Russian war, thus giving the accounts of the life of fear that anyone would go through while struggling to fit into life after dreadful encounters (Bloom 7). With the little knowledge of Afghanistan in the minds of the readers, the life of Amir gives a clear picture of the cultural, social and political systems that one would encounter in any Middle East nation during that warring period. According to Stossel, it is normal for a kid to encounter fear (35). But for Amir, the fear seem to haunt his whole life bringing to the inference that acceptance of fear is necessary to avoid being a retreat prompt. Accepting fear is the yardstick for physical achievement and personal growth. Hosseini is trying to put across that as the magnitude of fear increases, it controls actions or the life of an individual and accepting it is the beginning of redemption and strength of overcoming its consequences.
Theme of fear
Hosseini in his novel has portrayed the theme of fear through the experiences of Amir in most of the instances. In the beginning of the novel, Hosseini begins by giving a revelation of the fear that had gripped Amir since his childhood:
I remember the precise moment crutching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years (1)
Amir founds himself reiterating that he is a coward. For instance, Amir accept his cowardice as Hosseini describes on page 86 of the night that Amir turned out to be an insomniac Furthermore on page 87, Amir reiterated his fear by explaining to Hassan how in her childhood he has been trying to seek help from others instead of evading through building his courage of facing difficult situations. Therefore, in a number of occasions, Amir recapped the instances of showing his cowardice and the lack of courage to mingle with others in the belief that he originate from the less-dominant culture. Amir’s fear is predominating in the many contexts in the novel such as the case where he explains to Hassan his encounters in school:
School gave me the excuse to stay in my room for long hours. And, for a while, it took my mind off what had happened that winter, what I had let happen (21).
Hosseini has used the story of Amir to caption that fear can make one to commit an erroneous act and further make one to dread confronting the situation. An instance in the novel that reveals Amir’s fear is in chapter 12 where Hosseini captioned that it was solely fear that made him betray Hassan (161). Furthermore, Amir attributed fear to his failure to fix personal errors in the scenario where he wanted to break the news to Soraya about his intention for marrying her. Fear grips him and he admits that fear was the building block of his shy nature. On page 165, Hosseini quotes Amir explaining that it was only fear that differentiated him with Soraya and it is for that trait of fear that he is incapable of making life decisions.
Fear is used a way of redeeming oneself (Osho 29). The story of Amir’s betraying Hassan has painted the picture that one can acquire redemption as a price of the wrong deeds such that the good things that one will do become the equivalence of the wrong deeds in the past. Driven by fear, Amir during the light moment over the telephone with Rahim Khan admits that fear has made him know that it had reached the time of letting go of the guilt he has been holding on for the last 26 years (Hosseini 297). From the context, it is clear that accepting fear was the only solution for Amir to let go of his dreadful past and forge forward in the quest for redemption. Amir decision to redeem himself is a sign that earlier on, he had accepted fear to be part and parcel of his life. As advised by Rahim Khan, the only way to redeem oneself is doing things that are ethically right. Hosseini captures the recommendation of Rahim Khan in the scene where Khan advised Amir over the phone that redemption is the only way of proofing to be good and the way of shunning fear that drove his guilt:
I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir, when guilt leads to good (302).
Amir cowardice captured the attention of his friends and father which is an indication that fear has been Amir’s childhood enemy and everyone around him had noticed his conduct and fear as the key drivers of Amir’s guilt. Amir developed fear from his encounters in the past. According to Amir, the past was with him always. Amir’s fear is seen from his guilt about his past happenings and that forced Amir to define himself by what happened. Amir even feels that he was responsible for Hassan’s murder since he attributes his cowardice nature for the events that led to the death of Hassan. For instance, Amir was supposed to be courageous and assist Hassan when he was fighting with Assef. On page 221, the Hosseini captures that instance, where Rahim advises, draws the teaching of Amir’s father, Baba where he told Rahim that he was worried Amir:
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 (221).
In conclusion, the theme of fear has been exemplified through the story of Amir and has been applied used in acclimatizing the readers on the troubles that one can go through while multicultural environment. Fear has influenced Amir’s struggles to develop a mature relationship with the people around such as the establishment of the sound relationship between Amir, Rahim, and Hassan and Baba. The theme of fear and the struggles to accept it amid series of atonement, sin, forgiveness, and relationship with others give a reflection of the capacity of humans to strike a balance between evil and good. Accepting fear has proven to be the Amir’s biggest challenge that would guarantee him effective navigation through the complex socioeconomic environment where he is of the less-dominant culture. Therefore, as the magnitude of fear increases, it controls actions or the life of an individual and accepting it is the beginning of redemption and strength of overcoming its consequences.
Bloom, Harold. Khaled Hosseini's The kite runner . New York: Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2009. Print.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. New York : Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.
Osho. Fear : understanding and accepting the insecurities of life . New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2012. Print.
Stossel, Scott. My age of anxiety : fear, hope, dread, and the search for peace of mind . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Print.
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