|Now we’re going to try and write an essay. We’re going to take a look at question 1 again:
1. Choose a novel or short story in which there is a character who experiences rejection or isolation. With reference to appropriate techniques, explain the rejection or isolation, and discuss how this aspect adds to your appreciation of the text as a whole.
If this was your question and you’ve started off your essay by giving this intro:
In The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini there is a character Amir, who experiences isolation when he isolates himself because he experiences guilt at letting Hassan get raped. In the story Amir must make up for letting his best friend Hassan get raped by rescuing his nephew Sohrab from the Taliban. We can look at how Amir‘s isolation is important to our appreciation of the text as a whole by helping us understand that it is important to redeem yourself even if it is a hard thing to do.
P: Amir witnesses the rape and becomes guilty at Hassan’s sacrifice
E: “It was the look of the lamb”
E: Metaphor and alliteration to draw attention to what he is saying. The lamb is a symbol for Hassan. The lamb is sacrificed just like Hassan sacrifices himself for Amir and the kite trophy.
L: This event and the trauma of letting it happen is what causes Amir to isolate himself from those around him, especially Hassan who he feels he cannot face.
Amir causes his own isolation by witnessing the rape of his friend (and half-brother) Hassan and failing to intervene in the rape causing Hassan to sacrifice himself for Amir. We are told that Amir pictures “The look of the lamb” whilst shutting his eyes to prevent himself from seeing Hassan assaulted. There is alliteration on the ‘l’s here to draw attention to the metaphor. The metaphor tells us that the Eid lamb is sacrificed but accepts its fate for man, and this is compared with Hassan who sacrifices himself for Amir and accepts it. This ties into the wider issue of redemption as the event and the following trauma and guilt is what causes Amir to isolate himself from those around him as he cannot face Hassan.
P: He cannot deal with the rape and pushes Hassan away, attempting to fight him and eventually framing him.
E: “Coward! Coward!”
E: Speech that is shouted hence the exclamations. Amir calls Hassan a coward but really he is talking about himself. As he does this he throws pomegranates at Hassan. Pomegranates = friendship. Friendship is dead.
E: “Hassan’s reply was a single word, delivered in a thin, raspy voice: Yes”
E: Word choice thin raspy = Hassan’s low state. Yes = Hassan covering for Amir to get away from him.
L: Amir is incapable of processing or dealing with his guilt at what he has allowed to happen to Hassan and so he pushes him as far away as possible. This is what he will have to redeem in the future – the hurt he causes his best friend (and brother).
Amir begins to develop his isolation further as he cannot stand Hassan reminding him of his guilt and so he attempts to fight him and frames him in an attempt to get rid of him. Amir initially tries to start a fight with Hassan and throws pomegranates at him whilst shouting “Coward! Coward!” We know here that Amir is shouting these words at Hassan as there is exclamation marks. His word choice is interesting – although the word coward is shouted at Hassan, really Amir is talking about himself and his own behaviour but projects it onto Hassan as he cannot deal with the fact he didn’t stop Assef from raping Hassan. The use of pomegranates in this scene is also telling as they are symbols of friendship in the novel. Them being thrown in Hassan’s face and destroyed, shows that the friendship is also disintegrating at this point.
The other way we see Amir isolate himself is his attempt to frame Hassan for stealing the watch. However, Hassan admits to the theft saying “Yes” in a “thin, raspy voice” when asked by Baba if he stole the watch. Hassan has realised at this point that Amir is trying to get rid of him and so he admits he stole the watch even when he didn’t just so he can give Amir the space he so desperately wants. Amir isolates himself because he is incapable of dealing with his guilt at what he let happen to Hassan. The hurt he causes Hassan here and the fact he let it happen is what he will have to redeem himself for in the future.
P: Rahim Khan explains that there is a way to be good again and he doesn’t need to be guilty anymore.
E: “There is a way to be good again”
E: instruction and challenge set by Rahim Khan. Idea that Amir was once a good person.
L: This phone call gives Amir the push he needs to leave his self-isolation and make things good.
Amir is dragged out of his self-imposed isolation as an adult when he receives a phone call from Rahim Khan directing him to go back to Afghanistan and rescue his nephew Sohrab. Rahim Khan tells Amir on the phone that “there is a way to be good again.” The word choice here is both an instruction and a challenge – Rahim needs Amir to do this. The idea that he can “be good again” tells us that Rahim believes Amir was once a decent person and knows what happened to Hassan. This ties into the larger theme of redemption as the phone call gives Amir the push he need to fix things and he begins his journey out of isolation and towards redemption.
P: He gets Sohrab back and experiences a catharsis at finally confronting Assef.
E: “My body was broken…but I felt healed. I laughed.”
E: Alliteration on ‘b’ and the plosiveness matches the sound of his bones breaking and so adds to the violence of the scene. The ellipses is to make us pause as he contrasts with his physical pain by telling us he was mentally relieved. He was ‘healed’ word choice tells us he was whole again. The ‘laughing’ shows us his relief.
L: Amir’s isolation was caused because he didn’t do the right thing the first time around. Now he does the right thing by preventing a rape and taking the beating he should have had in the first place.
Amir manages to come out of his isolation completely when he gets Sohrab back and gets his catharsis by confronting Assef. We are told by Amir that “my body was broken…but I was healed. I laughed.” The plosive alliteration on the ‘b’s draws attention to how battered Amir’s body was in the fight, he is physically shattered. There is elipses to build in a pause before he tells us that he was ‘healed’ which is in direct contrast with what he has just told us about his body. Amir is telling us clearly here that although he is physically broken his mental sate is finally fixed as he has taken the beating he should have taken all those years before and defended Hassan. The ‘laugh’ at the end is almost hysterical relief at having finally done the right thing. Here, Amir breaks his isolation and we see him redeem himself by preventing a rape just like he should have done for Hassan all those years earlier.
P: He becomes the good man Baba wanted him to be and there is hope for Sohrab’s future showing complete redemption and becoming a good person.
E: You will not refer to him as ‘that Hazara boy’ in front of me again. He has a name and it is Sohrab
E: standing up to Soraya’s father. The words are words once used against Hassan. Amir is finally learning to be a good person.
E: For you a thousand times over
E: he can finally speak the words Hassan once said to him and mean them. That he is willing to do anything for someone else.
E: It was only a smile, nothing more… but I’ll take it.
E: The smile shows hope for Sohrab’s future, and their future as a family unit.
L: Amir has made things right and no longer has to feel isolated.
The final steps to come out of his self-imposed isolation are taken at the end of the book when Amir stands up to the General and makes Sohrab happy and Amir becomes the good man Baba always wanted him to be. The first part happens over dinner when Amir tells the General “you shall not refer to him as that Hazara boy again. He has a name and it is Sohrab.” In the past Amir could never stick up for Hassan against bullies but now he is prepared to do this for Sohrab so that he feels loved by all members of his family.
Finally in the kite flying scene Amir makes Sohrab happy by telling him that he used to fly kites with Hassan. Amir tells Sohrab “for you a thousand times over”. These are the words that Hassan used to say to Amuir. Repaeting these to Sohrab shows that Amir finally understands the love and loyalty behind them and he is telling Sohrab how much he loves the boy and how loyal and protective he will be over him. Sohrab also finally starts to mend in this final scne after all the abuse he has taken and we are told “it was only a smile, nothing more… but I’ll take it”. This small grin from Sohrab shows that he is taking steps towards good health and it is a sign that there is hope for a happy future. We see then in this final chapter that Amir has fully redeemed himself and become a good person instead of remaining isolated and not fixing things.
As we can see then Amir caused his own isolation by failing to stop the rape ofhis brother Hassan. In an attempt to fix things he pushed Hassan away. However this just made things worse. Rahim Khan’s intervention gave Amir a way to fix things and come out of his isolation. This in turn linked to Hosseini’s bigger theme of redemption whereby Amir fixes the events of the past by rescuing his nephew Sohrab, and making himself and his nephew whole again.