The Kite Runner
How we cite our quotes:
I thought about a comment Rahim Khan had made just before we hung up. Made it in passing, almost as an afterthought. I closed my eyes and saw him at the other end of the scratchy long-distance line, saw him with his lips slightly parted, head tilted to one side. And again, something in his bottomless black eyes hinted at an unspoken secret between us. Except now I knew he knew. My suspicions had been right all those years. He knew about Assef, the kite, the money, the watch with the lightning bolt hands. He had always known.
Come. There is a way to be good again, Rahim Khan had said on the phone just before hanging up. Said it in passing, almost as an afterthought. (14.18-19)
It's fitting that Rahim Khan points Amir toward Sohrab – a boy who's being abused by Assef – as a way to redeem himself. ("There is a way to be good again.") Basically, Rahim Khan is saying to Amir: "Here's how you can undo the damage you lavished on Hassan." By saving Sohrab, intervention will replace passivity for Amir. While we're on the topic of redemption: voice also replaces silence through Amir's narration of the novel. After all these years, Amir has said nary a word about the alleyway and the mattress and now he lets loose 371 pages worth of words. The man needs some redemption.
I felt like a man sliding down a steep cliff, clutching at shrubs and tangles of brambles and coming up empty-handed. The room was swooping up and down, swaying side to side. "Did Hassan know?" I said through lips that didn't feel like my own. Rahim Khan closed his eyes. Shook his head. [...]
"Please think, Amir Jan. It was a shameful situation. People would talk. All that a man had back then, all that he was, was his honor, his name, and if people talked...We couldn't tell anyone, surely you can see that." He reached for me, but I shed his hand. Headed for the door. [...]
I opened the door and turned to him. "Why? What can you possibly say to me? I'm thirty-eight years old and I've just found out my whole life is one big fucking lie! What can you possibly say to make things better? Nothing. Not a goddamn thing!" (17.57-63)
Rahim Khan tells Amir about Baba's betrayal of him, Hassan, and Ali. Here's the story: Baba slept with Sanaubar, Ali's wife, and fathered Hassan. But Baba never told Amir or Hassan about it. We wonder if Rahim Khan's revelation makes life easier or harder for Amir. On the one hand, Amir sees, for the first time, the similarities between himself and his father. Now he knows he wasn't the only one walking around with a ton of bricks (a.k.a. secret guilt). But does this really help Amir? Is it comforting at all to know his father made similar mistakes? Amir's betrayal of Hassan brings him closer to Baba in ways he couldn't have predicted. Although the two don't share the same secrets, they do share the secrecy of guilt.
We said our good-byes early the next morning. Just before I climbed into the Land Cruiser, I thanked Wahid for his hospitality. He pointed to the little house behind him. "This is your home," he said. His three sons were standing in the doorway watching us. The little one was wearing the watch – it dangled around his twiggy wrist. (19.113)
To undo his actions – or pardon himself – Amir gives Wahid's sons a watch. Where did we see a watch before in this novel? Oh yeah, the time Amir put a watch under Hassan's mattress in order to get his half-brother dismissed from the household. Now that we think about it, this story has a lot in common with Oedipus the King and other Greek tragedies. (Here, let me betray you. What's that? You're my brother? Flip.)