Amir is the protagonist of The Kite Runner. He is also the novel’s narrator, which means that he shares his transition from selfish child to self-sacrificing adult from his own perspective. Amir’s internal conflict regarding his failure to defend Hassan as a child guides the entire novel. As the protagonist, Amir incites the action by choosing to watch Assef rape Hassan instead of intervening, and Amir is unsure how to atone for the guilt that now colors his days. Amir hoped so strongly that bringing home the kite—the one he allowed Hassan to be raped for—would make Baba love him, but Baba is furious with Amir’s guilt-ridden request to replace Hassan and Ali with new servants. Amir is miserable, unable to overcome his shame and unable to win his father’s affections.

When the Soviet invasion forces Amir and Baba to flee Afghanistan, Amir attempts to bury his past and rebuild his life in the United States. Amir matures as he receives an education, marries, grows his writing career, accepts the death of Baba, and tries to start a family of his own. However, his guilt remains relentless, and this misery becomes compounded by Amir’s inability to have a child with Soraya. After Rahim Khan beckons Amir back home and reveals that Hassan was Amir’s half-brother, Amir wonders if he’s “not yet too old” to take Baba’s advice and “start doing my own fighting.” The change in Amir is most evident when he fights Assef to rescue Sohrab, risking the life he built in America to atone for his betrayal of Hassan. Amir feels “healed at last,” marking the end of years of shame and freeing himself to selflessly adopt Sohrab into his family.