Confronting the Scapegoat By:Jayden GerwicK

The word scapegoat comes from a story in Leviticus 16:8 where a goat is sent into the desert with the sins of the community. This animal allowed the community to move on and atone its mistakes. Unfortunately, we no longer live in Biblical times and scapegoats tend to be actual people rather than animals. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner shows just how easy it is to scapegoat those who are considered inferior by society and just how hard it is to go back into the desert to face a community’s sins.
Ever since they were kids, Hassan would always take the blame for the mischief and plans that Amir created. This is seen all throughout their childhood. For example, when Hassan and Amir are caught shining mirrors in the neighbor’s house and shooting walnuts at the neighbor’s dog, Hassan never tells that it was actually Amir’s idea (20). Ali, Hassan’s father, “would get mad, or as mad as someone as gentle as Ali could get,” and yet Amir stays silent and lets his friend suffer (21). Not only does this show how Hassan feels obligated to take the blame as a servant, but also that Amir is willing to silently let Hassan take that blame. While this might look like an intense friendship, Hosseini is in fact developing the traditional scapegoat archetype.
This scapegoat archetype and its relationship to the community becomes absolutely clear during the watch incident. To avoid confronting his own cowardice, Amir tries to get rid of Hassan and Ali by putting money and a watch underneath Hassan’s mattress. Hassan is confronted by Baba about the stolen watch and, being as loyal as he is, admits “Yes,” he committed the crime. Yet again Hassan takes the blame. Worse, Ali knows that Amir framed his son but only says, “we are leaving,” after glaring at the silent Amir (133). Now it becomes clear that this scapegoating is not limited to Hassan and Amir’s relationship but is reflected in the actions of the fathers too. Baba doesn’t think twice about blaming a Hazara for something like stealing and a Hazara like Ali knows he’s there to be blamed.
But Hosseini does not leave the scapegoat archetype in its traditional form. Amir’s sins do not disappear when he sends Hassan and Ali out into the desert. He returns from an easy life in California to Afghanistan “to be good again” (20). Goodness here means facing up to your own sins, and he goes to find Hassan only to find out that owning up to your sins is not so easy. Hassan, he learns, is dead, and his father’s friend, Rahim Khan, tells him that his own father Baba betrayed Ali and Hassan by avoiding responsibility for Hassan’s birth (262). The cycle only ends when Amir sacrifices himself to rescue Hassan’s son, a boy with the “silence of one who has taken cover in a dark place” (412), who then brings this silence into Amir’s home. The reader can only hope that Amir will one day speak up as he never did for Hassan.
While Hassan was Amir’s scapegoat, his race, the Hazaras, were a scapegoat for Afghanistan. We see this in multiple ways through the entire book and many times throughout history. Hossieni’s story shows just how short sighted and destructive this urge to scapegoat human beings and how those who scapegoat others will never be truly happy or whole until they confront the cowardice that led them to run away from their sins in the first place.


Created with images by ArmyAmber - "afghanistan remote road" • Cea. - "William Holman Hunt - The Scapegoat (1854)" • ResoluteSupportMedia - "100126-F-0212J-095" • DVIDSHUB - "Kentucky Agri-Business Development Team [Image 1 of 24]" • Moyan_Brenn - "Desert" • ' Nasim Fekrat - "Hazaras in Behsud"

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