In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, kites symbolize Amir's past with his friends and family. Kites are a way for Amir to remember his past and where he came from and how he got to where he is today. A lot of important history and memories are stored in the kites he talks about throughout.
In the beginning of the novel kites symbolize Amir and Baba's relationship. Kites mean a lot to Amir because it's the only way to get through to Baba. "Sometimes I wished he wouldn't do that. Wished he'd let me be the favorite." (Ch.6 pg. 49) Amir is upset because he wishes Baba would pay more attention to him than Hassan. Amir wants to be a great kite runner so Baba will start treating him like he exists. "I assent going to fail Baba. Not this time." (Ch.6 pg. 57) Amir wants to win the kite fighting tournament because he thinks it will help fix the problems between him and Baba. Kites are Amir's way of getting Baba's permission.
Throughout the middle of the novel kites become reminders to Amir of how he betrayed Hassan. Kites used to bring happiness to Amir, now it just brings him horrible memories of what happened. "... Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price I had to pay, the lamb I had to slay, to win Baba." (Ch.7 pg. 77) Amir wanted the kite to prove to Baba that he is a winner, and because of that it will remind him of what happened and how he betrayed Hassan. Amir thought that he was the only one who knew the secrets he's been keeping since the winter of 1975. "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." (Ch.14 pg.192) Rahim Khan had always known the secrets Amir had kept. Kites now remind him of something he's trying to forget for the rest of his life but can't.
At the end of the novel the Symbolism of the kites let's Amir go back to his past. Every time Amir sees a kite it reminds him of his past. "That was along time ago, but it's wrong what they say about the past, I've learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now I, realize that I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty six years." (Ch.1 pg.1) Amir tries to bury the past, but is unable to because the guilt he still feels keeps coming back to haunt him. He tries and tries to forget but nothing will help him forget what happened. "What was the old saying about the bad penny? My past was like that, always turning up." (Ch.22 pg.288) Everytime Amir would turn around his past would be there right behind him taunting him. The kites in the novel give Amir a chance to go back to the past without reliving the memories.