Throughout the novel Amir is plagued by guilt. He constantly thinks about his actions, is bothered by them, but doesn’t seem to know how to resolve the situation, until Rahim Khan gives him a way.
In The Kite Runner it is like it is a genetic part of his make-up as Amir seems to have been born with the inherited guilt of his father. When he was young he blamed himself for his mother’s death and believed this was why Baba had a problem with him:
I always felt like Baba hated me a little. And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn’t I? The least I could have done was to have the decency to have turned out a little more like him.
It was years before Amir learned the truth from Rahim Khan. After the death of Ali, Hassan and Baba, Amir was alone and left to not only sort out his own sins but also those of his father. Amir had learned to silence the guilt that gnawed away at him and he would need time to deal with the truth.
From the moment that he saw Hassan raped Amir defined himself by his guilt. The novel even opens with, “I became what I am today at the age of twelve.” Amir’s failure to act to prevent Hassan from being raped left him stained with guilt. He went through life with a secret sin and guilt. Amir feels unclean and realises that he is cursed. “I watched Hassan get raped … I understood the nature of my new curse: I was going to get away with it.” Amir is beginning to realise the connection and conflict between his inner desires and his behaviour. “Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay to win Baba. Was it a fair price? … He was just a Hazara, wasn’t he?” Amir learns that to win the prize there will be costs and sacrifices. Amir not only sacrificed Hassan and Ali, but he has sacrificed his own soul.
When Soraya confessed her past before they got engaged, Amir thought:
How could I, of all people, chastise someone for their past?… I envied her. Her secret was out. Spoken. Dealt with. I opened my mouth and almost told her how I’d betrayed Hassan, lied, driven him out and destroyed a forty-year relationship between Baba and Ali. But I didn’t. I suspected there were many ways in which Soraya Taheri was a better person than me. Courage was just one of them.
It would take Amir fifteen years before he would be able to tell Soraya the truth. When he gets the call from Rahim Khan Amir is set on a journey that will strip away all his protective layers. Layer by layer he loses the weight of guilt and he is able to find forgiveness. When Sohrab attempts suicide Amir prays that he lives. He asks God to forgive him but it took more time for Amir to forgive himself. Amir and Sohrab both found it difficult to forgive themselves. The fact that Sohrab feels guilt is so sad. He felt dirty because of Assef’s abuse and he even feels guilty for hurting his abuser. Amir assures Sohrab that he has done nothing wrong but his guilt and his fear of going back to the orphanage is too much to bear.
The novel ends with the first rays of hope that Sohrab is recovering mentally, emotionally and physically. Amir has put so much energy into saving Sohrab and through this journey he has also saved himself. Amir was able to finally forgive himself and he has been able to turn his guilt into good. He finds redemption.