How is the theme of 'Betrayal' represented by Baba and Amir throughout the novel?
Both Baba and Amir are prominent characters in the novel 'The Kite Runner', who display a major part of the 'betrayal'. They disappointed the expectations of and were disloyal to their loved ones.This theme depicts parallels between Baba and Amir, in which both characters betrayed the ones who were truly devoted to them for the sake of personal benefit.
Hassan is the primary victim of betrayal in the novel because he is not only betrayed by his own brother, but by his own father (Baba) as well. Every act of betrayal in the novel correlates with the loyalty provided by Hassan. Hassan is the result of Baba’s betrayal and the victim of Amir’s. Hassan continues to be betrayed throughout his life, ironically by someone he is persistently loyal to, that is, Amir.
- In the novel, the most important betrayal occured when Hassan got raped by Assef , and Amir did nothing to save him, instead he just ran away. He did not think twice and let cowardice defeat his friendship. This betrayal caused a wall of silence to be built between Amir and Hassan. Somewhere in his heart, Amir wanted Hassan to get raped so that he appeared weak to Baba.
" I had one last chance to make a decision...I could step into that alley, stand up for Hassan – the way he'd stood up for me all those times in the past...Or I could run.In the end, I ran."
- Amir did not hesitate to betray Hassan for the second time. His guilt and jealousy for Hassan had reached its extreme. So he 'plotted' to betray Hassan this time and framed him as a thief. He lied to Baba about Hassan so that he could have him all to himself. Amir's betrayal of Hassan brought him closer to Baba.
" I lifted Hassan's mattress and planted my new watch and a handful of Afghani bills under it...Then I knocked on Baba's door and told what I hoped would be the last in a long line of shameful lies."
Amir couldn't handle anything that reminded him of his cowardice, even if it was his best friend. This is the reason why he wanted to send Ali and Hassan away , as they reminded him of his betrayal and personal flaws. Unlike Amir, Baba kept the reminders of his guilt around, as he resisted sending Ali and Hassan away.
- Later in the book, Amir learned that Baba had betrayed his own best friend and servant – Ali, Hassan’s father – by fathering a child (Hassan) with Ali’s wife Sanaubar. This knowledge came as another kind of betrayal for Amir, who had always hero-worshipped Baba and was shocked to learn of his father’s flaws. He felt betrayed as Baba had hidden the truth about Hassan from him.
"...The things he'd stolen had been sacred : from me the right to know i had a brother, from Hassan his identity and from Ali his honour."(225)
- In a way, Baba also betrayed his son Amir by neglecting him and giving more of his attention to Hassan. Baba wanted Amir to be exactly like him and carry on his life, instead of having a unique one. He used Amir for his own purposes and failed to be a true father figure to him. Rahim Khan was much more of a father figure to Amir as compared to Baba.
- The other key betrayal occured when Amir told Sohrab (Hassan's son) that he may go back on his promise of not putting him in an orphanage ever again, due to which Sohrab attempted to kill himself. Once again Amir essentially betrayed Hassan by going back on the promise he made Sohrab, just like he went back on promises he made Hassan. This time, however, Amir realized his mistake soon and tried to make it up to Sohrab.
Amir's guilt and sense of loyalty to the people he betrayed long ago forced him to return to Kabul and 'be good again'. The betrayals had caused him to lead a life full of regret, so by rescuing Sohrab, he to put an end to it.
Although Baba and Amir don't share the same secrets (betrayal), they do share the secrecy of guilt. In conclusion, these low points in the two men’s lives not only created a sense of tension and guilt, but their betrayals also lead to quests for redemption that brought about some good in the end – as Baba later lead a more principled, charitable life, and Amir overcame his fear, rescued Sohrab from Assef and adopted him. Where betrayal destroyed some lives, it also made some better.