Identity in the Kite Runner

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Identity is a special and complicated character of an organism that is usually affected by a variety of influences as one develops and moves from one goal to another, and ambition to aspiration. What distinguishes one’s personality is mainly one’s history, memories, and family, among other things. In an ideal world, a person’s family, history, and experiences shape him or her directly and implicitly, thus influencing one’s values and philosophies from the moment they are born. Similarly, The Kite Runner and A Complicated Kindness explore personality problems as they are affected by various situations. The Kite Runner has Amir experiencing insecurities about his identity in relation to how others view him. Similarly, A Complicated Kindness reveals that when one is faced with inconceivable challenges the true identity of the person is revealed. Time, culture, family, background, and place are identified as serious factors that influence once identity thereby necessitating an evaluation of the two text to understand how these attributes the concept of identity.

The family is identified as a significant influence on once identity in The Kite Runner. Baba has strong moral values due to his father’s influence given that he was a judge. His moral integrity is directly linked to the influence of his father which highlights the family at the centre of identity. Additionally, the relationship between Amir and Baba also clearly demonstrate family as an epitome of identity. When Amir asks Baba “Do, you [Baba] always have a hero?” (Hosseini p. 115). The question shows that family look up to each other to build one’s identity. Moreover, Baba has a belief that “there is only one sin…that is theft” (Hosseini p. 18). This principle significantly influences Amir,’s life to the extent that when it was betrayed, he lived with regret since the 1975 winter. His identity is severely impacted by his guilt of betraying Hasan’s trust, Baba and Ali. Essentially, the author shows that identity is a critical aspect of one’s life. This identity is normally shaped by others and mostly the family. The main character experiences serious personal identity crisis because he failed to live up to the standards that his family had desired.

Throughout the first few chapters of the novel, Amir feels insecure regarding his identity and the way others perceive him. He is particularly concerned about how Baba regards and treats him as his son. Unfortunately, Baba seems always unsatisfied and disappointed in him which affects his identity. Baba is well respected in the entire city of Kabul. On the contrary, Amir is a 12-year-old weak and coward boy who only likes reading and writing stories which culturally does not resemble masculinity. In the eyes of the society “real men—real boys—played soccer just as Baba had when he had been young…”( Hosseini p. 15). His desire is ‘to be good again” (Hosseini p. 166) so that he can amend his relationship with Baba and receive some love in return. However, his failures become an obstacle to his personal growth as he is constantly seeking approval from others. His quest to redeem himself which is a reflection of identity crisis becomes the heart of the novel. He tries to make himself in Baba’s eyes essentially because his mother died giving birth to him which makes him feel responsible for the death. Amir believed that through winning the kite-match, he would please Baba. However, Baba believed that “a boy who cannot stand for himself becomes a man who cannot stand up for anything…” (Hosseini p. 18), makes Amir try to redeem himself through proving his worth in the eyes of Baba. At the beginning of the story, he narrates that past must be resolved “it’s wrong what they say about the past…because the past claws its way out” (Hosseini p. 2). The author uses the narration to build the reasons behind Amir’s seek for approval effectively. He consistently has to battle with the past issues that influence his identity as tries to discover his true self. Amir is a character who needs redemption so that he can develop his identity away from what others believe or think of him.

On the other side, Nomi who is the main character in the story establishes her identity upon picking up the pieces from her mother and sister’s sudden dissaperance. The tragedy of the loss leaves Nomi’s life barren and dull. It is as if her life comes to an abrupt end as the readers find that she keeps wondering aimlessly, lying on the bed with her high school dropout boyfriend. Fundamentally, the author creates a sense that her identity is lost with the loss of her family and she is left to wander around to discover who she is without her mother and sister. She attempts to define her identity and place in the world through rebelling against her community. Through “drugs and my imagination” (Toews p. 54) she creates her community with friends who do not ascribe fully to the strict Mennonite upbringing. “There is no room for in-between in the town” (Toews p. 10). Nomi must also create her behavior and code given that the adults in her life have departed. This creates a problem in her identity given that she does not have anyone to look up to in the repressive community.

Nomi is miserable in her senior year of high school as she faces uncertain future working at the poultry processing plant. Her friend is in the hospital with a mysterious illness while her boyfriend is cheating on her. At school, she faces a challenge of finding a suitable ending for her essay which makes her quit going to school. The church elders warn her that if she does not change she would be excommunicated. The principal at her school also acknowledges that “these are not the best days of her life” (Toews p. 170). Coupled with other challenges Nomi is faced with a decision to confront her fantasies and leave the town which was the only home she has ever known. Essentially, the author tries to show the identity crisis created by culture and events in her life. Nomi must discover her identity before deciding either confronting the challenges in the town or leaving to another place to start afresh. She states that “there is kindness here, a complicated kindness…” (Toews p. 46). She states that “truly, this story ends with me still sitting on the floor of my room wondering who I’ll become in I leave this town…” (Toews p. 246). This shows the character still has some difficulties of identification with the culture thus she is still trying to figure out her best option.

In conclusion, in many ways Nomi is a normal teenager challenged by the loss of elders in her life thus she struggles to find her place in the world. She is humiliated by “the most embarrassing sub-sect of people…(Toews p. 5). This makes her affect careless sarcasm as she resists the conformity demands that are outlined by the town’s church leaders. Apart from the lack of adults in her family, Nomi’s journey to adulthood is influenced by the city’s fundamentalism which affects her identity. Similarly, Amir exhibits identity challenges because he faces constant rejection from Baba. Other people in his life also tend to shape his personality as he tries to please them. The author emphasizes the importance of family in the construction of character and identity which is replicated in A Complicated Kindness in the way Nomi faces identity crisis because she lacks a family to support her growth.

Works Cited

Hosseini, Khaled. The kite runner. Penguin, 2003.

Toews, Miriam. A complicated kindness. Seal Books, 2009.

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