I watched him fill his glass at the bar and wondered how much time would pass before we talked again the way we just had. Because the truth of it was, I always felt like Baba hated me a little. And why not? After all, I had killed his beloved wife, his beautiful princess, hadn’t I? The least I could have done was to have had the decency to have turned out a little more like him. But I hadn’t turned out like him. Not at all.
Amir’s desire to win his father’s approval is one of the driving forces of the novel. Amir believes he caused the death of Baba’s wife by his birth. All Amir wants is his father to look at him with pride and respect. He feels that he owes it to his father to turn out like him.
‘There is only what you do and what you don’t do,’ I said.
Amir’s words, spoken at the end of the novel, reveals that he finally understands that a man’s reputation is formed by what he does, as well as by what he doesn’t do. Amir’s guilt stems from his inability to act, to do the right thing by Hassan. Baba, even though he committed a similar betrayal as Amir, still acts with honor, as evidenced when he refuses to allow the Afghan woman in his truck to be raped.
What was so funny was that, for the first time since the winter of 1975, I felt at peace. I laughed because I saw that, in some hidden nook in a corner of my mind, I’d been looking forward to this.
Amir, about to get beaten by Assef, ironically feels a sense of peace. He laughs, thinking that he has been looking forward to this moment. He knows this moment will finally give him the chance to pay for his betrayal and open the way toward redemption. He has been searching for this moment all along. He sees that living in safety in America has only delayed this crucial turning point in his life.
‘I won’t ever get tired of you, Sohrab,’ I said. ‘Not ever. That’s a promise.’
At this point in the novel, Amir has finally gotten custody of Sohrab, after a long period of struggle and delay. Amir has been redeemed. After suffering years of abuse at the hands of the Taliban, Sohrab has lost trust in the world and worries that Amir might tire of him and abandon him. Amir’s response to Sohrab’s worry confirms his loyalty to Sohrab and ultimately to Sohrab’s father, Hassan.
‘For you, a thousand times over,’ I heard myself say.
Amir speaks these words to Sohrab at the end of the novel while they are flying kites. Amir shows Sohrab some of the tricks his father Hassan used, and they sever a kite loose. Amir asks Sohrab if he would like him to run the kite for him. Sohrab nods yes. Amir replies “For you, a thousand times over,” just like Hassan said to Amir when they were boys.