The be good enough, while his father doesn’t

The Kite Runner is the story of Amir, a young boy growing up in Afghanistan. His father, Baba is a wealthy, successful businessman who raises Amir in an upscale neighbourhood in an elegant estate home that he built. Ali, who is a friend of Baba’s is also their house servant. He lives in the servants quarters of the house with his son, Hassan. Although the relationship between Baba and Amir changes dramatically throughout the novel, from the time Amir was a child to when he is an adult, it is clear from the beginning that Amir highly respects his father. He is proud to be his son. “He motioned to me to hold his hat for him and I was glad to, because then everyone would see that he was my father, my Baba.” (page 14/15)However, while growing up Amir feels he must constantly struggle to win his father’s affection and love. Baba on the other hand struggles with trying to love a son who is nothing like himself, as he expects him to be. Amir feels that nothing he can do will be good enough, while his father doesn’t truly consider him worthy as a son. Amir wants his father to be proud of him. His father wishes Amir was someone that he could be proud of. As a result, Amir grows up feeling inadequate that he does not have his father’s respect, affection and approval. His father disgraced that his son is weak, distances himself. This consequently prevents a lifelong emotional bond between father and son.When Amir was a child, his father Baba often left him out of his daily life. He seemed more concerned with his own job and did not take the opportunity to spend quality time with his son. Living in a male dominated country, such as Afghanistan, it is considered to be higher class if a man has great wealth and status. As Amir grew into a young boy his father often left him out of the conversation, encouraging him instead to keep himself occupied on his own. Amir began reading stories as a way of passing the time. As his interest in books advanced, he started writing stories of his own. This developed his desire to become a writer. His father on the other hand wants his son to carry on his name and legacy but ends up angry and frustrated that Amir is not brave, tough and outgoing like himself. He does not consider becoming a writer very manly. Amir is also a sensitive boy who genuinely feels empathy towards others, a characteristic trait which his father despises. This creates a further distance between them. Not only does Baba see no similarities between them, he doesn’t feel a connection either.When Baba takes a young Amir to the Buzkashi tournament to celebrate new Year’s Day, Amir witnesses a skilled horseman, known as a chapandaz, fall off his horse and get trampled to death on the field. This saddens Amir who cries in the car all the way home, while his father desperately tries not to look as disgusted as he really is, at Amir’s sensitivity. Later that evening Amir overhears his father speaking to a friend, discussing how Baba dislikes the cowardliness that he sees in his son. He expresses his disappointment that his son is naturally submissive  rather than strong willed and dominant like himself.  He doesn’t understand or appreciate how Amir prefers reading books over playing sports or watching them on tv. Baba says to Rahim Khan, “I’m telling you, I wasn’t like that at all, and neither were any of the kids I grew up with.” (page 22)                                                   He also doesn’t understand how Amir doesn’t defend himself or fight back against the other boys when he sees them pushing him around. He strongly believes that something in the boy is missing, otherwise how could he allow himself to be bullied like that. Baba then compares him to Hassan when he tells Rahim that it is Hassan who steps in and fends them off. Continuing, Baba tells Rahim, ” A boy who can’t stand up for himself becomes a man who won’t stand up to anything.” (page 22) In Baba’s eyes, Amir’s behaviour indicates a cowardly personality and Baba cannot overlook his dismayed feelings of disappointment. This is not the type of son he wishes to have.  He hopes Amir will realize that in order to get somewhere in life, to be a man of status you have to be mentally and physically strong. This, in Baba’s eyes is what a real man possesses.As their conversation continues, not realizing that the boy is listening, Amir hears his father express to his friend that there is something about his son that troubles him that he can’t quite explain. Something that is missing. In a lowered voice, Amir hears his father say, “If I hadn’t seen the doctor pull him out of my wife with my own eyes, I’d never believe he’s my son.” (page 23) Amir grows up living with the secret knowledge of knowing how his father really feels about him. This causes Amir to regularly try to gain Baba’s attention, although he often failed because his father was too busy thinking about money and the status of how others viewed him to really see what was important to his son and their relationship.Meanwhile, Amir notices that his father always showed extra attention to his friend, the servant boy, Hassan. Hassan is the opposite of Amir. Hassan likes to be outside, playing sports, climbing trees and running around. Baba does not see him as a weakling as he suggests Amir is, when he states to Rahim Khan, “He’s always buried in those books or shuffling around the house like he’s lost in some dream.” (page 21)  Over time Amir’s friendship and compassion for the servant boy evolves into jealousy when he sees that Hassan has somehow earned his father’s affection, the one thing he greatly wishes for. He realizes that Baba never misses Hassan’s birthday, and he always surprises him with a special gift that Baba personally picked out. One year when Baba presents Hassan with a gift of surgery to fix his harelip, Amir wonders what he must do.”I wished I too had some kind of scar that would beget Baba’s sympathy. It wasn’t fair. Hassan hadn’t done anything to earn Baba’s affection; he’d just been born with that stupid harelip.” (page 46) This had a big impact on his life because not only does Amir still feel disappointed in himself for never being able to earn his father’s affection, he also begins to resent Hassan and the relationship he has with his Baba. He is jealous when his father always wants to include Hassan in their family activities and begins to lie to his Baba in order to have time with him to himself. When Amir asks Baba to take him to Jalalabad, his father suggests Hassan come along. Amir wonders, “Why did Baba have to spoil it like that?” (page 82) When they are older, Amir and Hassan win the annual kite-fighting competition. Amir thinks that, perhaps now he will capture his father’s respect. “Then I saw Baba on our roof. He was standing on the edge, pumping both of his fists. Hollering and clapping. And that right there was the single greatest moment of my twelve years of life, seeing Baba on that roof, proud of me at last.” (page 66)  However, Amir soon realizes that his father is only happy that he won the tournament, that the party he hosts to celebrate isn’t really to show off his son, but the achievement of winning along with showing off his own status and wealth.As the story progresses we see how Baba’s lack of being able to show Amir his love  causes Amir to doubt himself. Years later when he is a grown man and happily married, his first novel gets published. He knows there is much goodness in his life. With so much happiness he still wonders though whether he deserved any of it.Baba would say to Amir while he is growing up, ” No matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one and that is theft. Every other is a variation of theft. Do you understand that?” (page  17)Amir doesn’t understand what his father means by it, although he desperately wished he did because he knows that by not understanding what his father has said, he has disappointed him yet again. What Baba is teaching Amir in this quote, is that you should never steal anything from anyone because it’s the worst sin you can make and all other sins are related to theft in some way or another. Unfortunately, Baba does not see that by disregarding Amir because he is not exactly like himself, he has committed the biggest sin. He stole the chance of having a good relationship between the two of them. Also by making Amir feel insignificant and never good enough, he stole his childhood and more importantly his self-esteem.When he is much older he discovers that Hassan is really his illegitimate brother. Amir feels betrayed by his father’s lies. Thieving is supposed to be the most inconceivable sin, as told by his own father. He realizes then that his father ironically robbed him, the chance of a brotherly relationship with Hassan. Although he starts to understand why Baba treated Hassan as he did, it is the beginning of the end of their weakened relationship. It isn’t until later in the novel that we see Amir finally being recognized as an asset to his father. When they are living in America, Baba is older and his worsening health means he has no choice but to rely on Amir. Eventually, Amir puts his feeling of betrayal aside to care for his ailing father. In doing this it helps Baba appreciate having Amir by his side. This role reversal in their relationship actually brings them closer. Baba is finally proud of his son, the writer of many published books. Before Baba dies Amir gets emotional and starts to think of when he was a child and how they did not spend a lot of time together. With regret, he wishes that he and his father had had a better relationship before the illness of Baba and before Amir took on the role as a leader, even though he realizes that it is this situation between them that enabled them to finally develop the father and son relationship that he always wished to have.In conclusion, the relationship between Amir and Baba was weak because Baba was convinced that Amir was not very masculine. This was considered important in their culture and he could not see beyond his own feelings. Baba believed self-worth came from the opinions of others and how they viewed you. As time went on Amir proved to his father that he did deserve his respect. He was a worthy son after all.The Kite Runner shows how necessary it is for a father and son to have a good relationship from the very beginning. It proves that people can be different but that it does not mean they are less of a person. Without understanding this, it can create lasting effects that prevent a healthy relationship from growing. Unnecessary negative consequences can likely result from the lack of a strong, loving bond. By the time Amir was an adult in America, his aging Baba had become more dependant on him. He saw Amir step into the role of a mature man. In the end this is what made Baba see that differences don’t really matter. Finally he was able to be proud of Amir and although it took a whole lifetime, Amir finally got what he had always hoped for.