Pyper Turner Writing Portfolio – Task 1
Analyse how a key idea (or ideas) in the text were used to comment on society’s perception of guilt and/or redemption.
In the novel “The Kite Runner” written by Khaled Hosseini, three key events that were used to comment on society’s perception of guilt were, Amir watching Hassan get raped, Assef raping Hassan and killing innocent people and the relationship between Baba and Amir. Hosseini uses these ideas to comment on society’s perception of guilt because he wants us as the reader to think about our feelings towards these events.
An event in the novel that commented on society’s perception of guilt, was when Amir watched Hassan get raped. To society guilt is the feeling that develops in the pit of your stomach when you have done something wrong. When you have done something that makes you guilty, even if you redeem yourself, you are always seen as the person who did wrong. Your past defines who you are. This was reinforced in the beginning of the novel when Amir says “That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now I realise I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.” This dialogue creates a sense that Amir has tried to hide what he did and put it behind him without making it right. This works in with a later event where he moves to America. “America was different. America was a river roaring along, unmindful of the past. I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories and no sins.” Once Amir had made the transition from Afghanistan to america, he knew that nobody would know about the mistakes he made in the past. This meant that he could try to forget about and move on with his life. As people, it is human nature for us to have a perception of another person and no matter how much they change we will always still hold that view of them. For example when Amir watches Hassan get raped, we think of him as ‘the boy who betrayed his friend’. Even though Amir redeems himself in the end, we still think of him doing what he did to Hassan and always see him as that person, even as time goes on we are always brought back to the thought that he should always feel guilty for his actions. We see this in the story of Libby Phelps-Alvarez, where she was part of a church that was picketing soldiers funerals. When she hit an age where she realised she was doing wrong she decided to leave the church and stop doing it. Many years later, a family whose sons funeral was picketed talk to her about the situation. They understand how she feels and that she is sorry, but they will never forget what she has done.
Another event in “The Kite Runner” that comments on society’s perception of guilt, is Assef raping and bullying Hassan. Assef has always been known as the neighbour hood thug. “Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true afghans, the pure afghans, not this flat-nosed here.” This dialogue creates a sense that Assef feels he is better than everyone else and doesn’t respect people who are from a lower social/economical class or people who are not Pashtuns. Assef gets these beliefs from someone he has looked up to in the past. Hitler. “Too late for hitler, but not too late for us.” This shows that assef admired the ways that Hitler acted in the past. He respected the way that he removed the jews and wants to do the same to the Hazaras in Afghanistan because he believes they don’t belong. This influences our opinion of Assef because it leads us to believe that he should always feel guilty, he thinks he is doing the right thing but he is just killing innocent people and has no remorse at all. Later in the novel we see that Assef has joined the Taliban, this also portrays society’s perception of guilt because he kills a lot of innocent people as once again he believes he is doing good for the world. “You don’t know the meaning of ‘liberating’ until you’ve done that, stood in a room of targets, let the bullets fly, free of guilt and remorse, knowing you are virtuous, good and decent. Knowing you are doing gods work. It’s breathtaking.” This dialogue narrated by Assef shows us that when he kills an innocent person, he has no guilt. This text presents a fresh insight to the idea of society’s perception of guilt, because as a society we believe that he should feel guilt every time that he kills a person. No matter if they are guilty or innocent. “A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer.” The author uses this quote to show us that Assef has no heart, no trace of goodness in his body. We know this because when he kills people for no reason he doesn’t feel bad. When we compare this to Amir, we notice that Amir feels immeasurable amounts of guilt. This shows us the difference between the personalities of these two characters. Amir actually has a heart and feelings, and Assef thinks that he could never do anything wrong. Even though there is a huge difference within these characters, society still classifies them under the same category as “guilty”. This makes everyone think that they must have done something equally as bad as each other, however Amir betrayed his friend and Assef was killing innocent people. No one cares what the crime was that was committed, as long as you have done something wrong you will always be seen as guilty. The reason the author has done this is because he wants us to think about society’s reaction to events like this taking place.
The last event in the novel that comments on society’s perception of guilt is Baba and Amirs relationship. Baba has never been proud of his son, and always looked down on him. When Amirs mother died after giving birth to him, Baba always thought of it as Amirs fault. “There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life… you steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat you steal the right to fairness…there is no act more wretched than stealing.” When Baba says this we realised that he believed that Amir had stole his beautiful wife from him, and as Baba pointed out to him, theft was the only sin anyone could commit. This made Baba hold a grudge against him since the day that he was born. Amir always tried his hardest to redeem himself from this guilt he had of “killing” his mother. As Amir starts to grow up, Baba finds more things that allow him to look down on his son. He realises that he doesn’t hold the same beliefs as Baba and he believes that Amir is a coward. “A boy who won’t stand up for himself, is a man who can’t stand up for anything.” This dialogue shows that. Baba is disappointed in his son because they are so different from each other. Baba wants Amir to be an exact copy of himself and this makes Amir feel guilty for not being what his father wants in a son. Society would react to this in a way that Baba should feel guilty as it is a sense of abuse towards Amir. Amir knows that this is how his father feels about him and he does so much to try and change that, that he ends up hurting other people. This is reflected in the life of everyday teenagers, because a lot of people know what it feels like to have their parents disappointed in them. When you make a mistake, you feel the guilt that is reflected on to you off your parents reactions. Everyone wants their parents to be proud of them because they are who we look up to in life.
In conclusion the key events of Amir watching hassan get raped, Assef raping Hassan and killing innocent people and Baba and amirs relationship comment on society’s perception of guilt because the author has made us think about how we feel towards the situation.