Cruelty is callous indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering. In the novel, The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini, cruelty can be seen as a reoccuring theme. It tells the story of Amir, a young boy from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Hassan, his fatherr’s Hazara servant. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistanr’s Monarchy, through the Soviet Military intervention, the exile of Pakistan refugees to America, and the rise of the Taliban. The story turns as Amir betrays Hassan in a way he can not forgive himself and this haunts him for the next 20 years of his life. Although some may disagree, the novel shows cruelty as a main theme in both Amirr’s childhood and adulthood.
The thought-provoking novel, ?The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, vividly depicts the cruelty of human nature and illustrates how it can affect individuals and society as a whole. Through Amirr’s first person narrative, Hosseini juxtaposes his personal journey in overcoming guilt with the deterioration of Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban. Hosseini cleverly explores the breakdown of Amir and Hassanr’s relationship and the historical events within Afghanistan in order to portray human cruelty, as well as showing hope for the future.
Through Hosseinir’s exploration of the cruelty of human nature, he highlights the related themes of betrayal and redemption. Amir is cruel to Hassan as he is jealous of the affection that Baba gives him, which makes Amir feel inadequate. Babar’s closeness to Hassan is due to his earlier betrayal and through this Hosseini illustrates that guilt cannot be escaped and eventually the truth will come out. Itr’s only when facing Assef, who epitomizes human cruelty, that Amir can resolve his guilt. When he confronts his past, then he can look towards a positive future. Hosseini uses Amirr’s journey to reflect Afghanistanr’s struggle against the destructive forces of the Taliban, proving that cruelty can be overcome.
Cruelty is seen throughout Amirr’s childhood in many different situations. Early on in the novel,
Hosseini firstly depicts the cruelty of human nature through Amirr’s early treatment towards Hassan in order to foreshadow the further cruelty that he displays later on, emphasising how cruelty exists within us all. This is highlighted when Amir and Hassan are confronted by Assef. He begins to doubt his friendship as Assef challenges him when he asks, How can you call him your friend? But her’s not my friend! I almost blurted. Her’s my servant! Hosseini demonstrates how Amir did not stop Assef and stand up for Hassan which conveys that he is a coward, highlighting his cruel nature by denying the friendship. This, later on adds to Amirr’s guilt and defines him as a coward which motivates him to atone for his sins. It also foreshadows Amirr’s true nature at the turning point of this novel.
‹Through the turning point of the rape, Hosseini reveals the escalation of Amirr’s cruel nature. Hosseini emphasises Amirr’s cruelty through the act of leaving Hassan defenceless against Assef as Amir physically and mentally turns away from the rape. Amir justifies his decision to leave Hassan by claiming I actually aspired to cowardice because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right. Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba. Hosseini reveals the cruelty of human nature by Amir leaving Hassan to be his ?sacrifice in exchange for affection from Baba. The writer highlights this aspect to show that everything in the world comes with a cost and sometimes people will take it even if it means giving up the ones closest to us.
Hosseini continues to highlight the cruelty that is within Amir by describing the treatment Hassan receives after the rape. Through the words of Amir that state that ?[he] looked for [Hassan]., Amirr’s tone conveys that anger is involved, a very cruel way to treat someone that is clearly hurt as ?[Hassan] wiped snot and tears. Amirr’s cruelty does not stop here, but worsens. This is dramatically portrayed by Hosseini when Amir ?hurled the pomegranate at [Hassan]. It struck him in the chest, exploded in a spray of red pulp. Hassanr’s cry was pregnant with surprise and pain. Amir uses this continuing cruelty to try and relieve his guilt by trying to provoke Hassan. Hassanr’s refusal to react greatly emphasises Amirr’s unjustified cruelty. The breaking of the pomegranate also symbolises the relationship between Hassan and Amir disintegrating. The accumulation of Amirr’s cruelty leads to Amir having to seek redemption and highlights Hosseinir’s message that guilt cannot be escaped.
The presence of the Taliban in the latter stages of the novel demonstrates how the cruelty of human nature can be amplified via the collective belief and view of a leading organisation. Afghanistan is portrayed at the beginning of the novel as a Western influenced and peaceful country. However, as Amir and Hassanr’s relationship deteriorates, so too does the state of Afghanistan due to the Taliban, reflecting the powerful and destructive influence of cruelty. The key point in the novel where Taliban cruelty is shown is when Amir watches a football match and there is a public stoning at half time. Hosseini shows the change in Afghanistan by the reaction of the crowd when the executioner enters the pitch. In the old Afghanistan, everyone would have been shocked by the ability for a human being to exert such brutality on another. However, Hosseini states that The sight of him drew cheers from a few spectators. The Afghan people had become so used to the violence of the Taliban that they no longer felt any empathy towards a man and woman being executed for adultery. Hosseini therefore shows the wider effect on society by one groupr’s extreme cruelty.
Crucially, Hosseini chooses Amir to confront his guilt by standing up to Assef, his childhood bully and the instigator of the cruellest act within the novel. The author symbolically creates Assef as the epitome of the cruelty of human nature. Despite his convincing exterior as a high ranking Talib, Amir sees past the front and reveals Assefr’s truly hypocritical nature. His cruelty is clearly evidenced in the scene of the rape, which he carries out for seemingly no other reason than his desire for self-empowerment. This hypocritical act is backed up by his western styled clothing which being a part of the Taliban is against their beliefs. The John Lennon styled sunglasses represent that he does not share the same ideas as the Taliban and is only in it for the power. From an early age we see Assefr’s need for power which is reflected symbolically in the brass knuckles he wears. They require very little skill for maximum damage and are quite underhand when used in a fight. As seen later on during the stoning, Assef uses these acts of cruelty as ?public justice [ ] education en masse. Even as an adult he is still a bully and this is why it is particularly fitting that Amir must confront Assef to relieve himself of his guilt and in doing so confronts the cruelty of human nature.
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