The theory of perfection is intriguing for many reasons, but primarily because of its unattainability. The human drive for self-improvement and betterment of society is never ending, as explored through the millennia by innumerable works of art, literature, and philosophy. The Kite Runner, a masterpiece of a novel written by Khaled Hosseini, explores this unquenchable thirst for redemption and contentedness. It is testament to this novel’s uniqueness and gravity, that it has altered my entire world perspective and how I view myself.
An interesting feature of this novel is its lack of clearly defined antagonists. There are no villains, and thus, no scapegoat to point fingers at. Instead, it is the main character, Amir, and his life choices and decisions that act as the primary instigators of much of the calamity that takes place in the novel. The Kite Runner taught me that, in the end, despite all of the extenuating circumstances, it is truly our choices that define us, and what we ultimately have to live with on our conscience. As Amir copes with the buried demons of his past and attempts to reconcile his past choices with his current morality, The Kite Runner strengthened my resolve to truly make each of my decision reflect my values and ethics as an individual. In today’s fast paced, competition driven world, we are encouraged on all fronts to cut corners and sacrifice our sense of self and personal morality for the sake of getting ahead in the pursuit of success. Hosseini’s novel reminded me of the importance of integrity, which I’ve committed to make the keystone of each of my life choices, from the life altering, to the trivial.
The Kite Runner’s main setting is Kabul, Afghanistan, and even after the main characters move to San Francisco, the distinctly Afghan culture colors the entirety of the book. A region of the world often demonized by today’s media and current climate, this book was a refreshing take on the culture of a part of the world that feels especially distant. The Kite Runner put an unflinchingly, unapologetically human face on a people often reduced to a religious epithet. Acknowledging the good, the bad, and the ugly of the political and cultural climate, with a genuine mix of nostalgia, disgust, ill content, and reverence of one’s hometown and heritage, Hosseini reinforced the universality of human compassion, grief, joy, and love. The novel reaffirmed that no matter the country, language, class, or religion, each person strives to seek self-improvement, and must confront their own personal struggles, coping in whatever way they know how.
As The Kite Runner established, as humans, we constantly strive for self-betterment. This dichotomy between the theory of perfection and its practice, and the constant pursuit of this unattainable end—it’s an idea that I find especially intriguing. Similarly, I believe the subjective nature of the definition of perfection to provide valuable insight on the structures and foundations of today’s current society. A culture’s prioritization of the traits they believe to advance the movement to perfection—whether it be equality, order, freedom, or happiness, is a glance into distinct ideologies of unique people, and is a concept beautifully and artfully captured in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.