"The Kite Runner" Analysis: Rahim Khan
Rahim Khan is a minor but important character in the dynamics of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Although he plays a small part in the novel, his effect on the protagonist (Amir) is very prominent. As a result, Rahim Khan is referred to several times throughout the story by other characters and plays a large part in the latter half of the novel when he calls Amir back to Afghanistan.
Constants Throughout the Novel
At the beginning of the novel, Rahim Khan is seen defending Amir against Baba's criticisms, encouraging Amir to keep writing and attempting to cheer him up. At the end of the story, he calls Amir back so that he can redeem himself, saying himself that money is not the issue when talking about getting Sohrab, leaving the opportunity to save Sohrab to Amir alone. Leaving Amir money and trying his best to look after Baba's house in his absence also shows just how caring Rahim Khan is for his friends.
Linked in with being caring, is that Rahim Khan understands Amir and how what he did (betray Hassan) had affected him, as well as the effects Baba's disappointment had on him. Later, he understood that the only way Amir could feel better about himself is by taking the chance to sacrifice something for Hassan, allowing him the knowledge of Sohrab and how to save him. Lying about the existence of an American couple also showed understanding on Khan's part because he knew that without the couple Amir would not have gone, but that after Amir had got Sohrab, he would want to take him back to America instead.
Calm & Reserved
Unlike Baba, Rahim Khan is very reserved and speaks in few, yet eloquent words. He maintains this through his age and even when explaining what had happened in Amir's absence in Kabul he uses a concise and clear way of explaining what happened, letting Amir ask further questions, not elaborating himself.
Being Baba's business associate and from the way he speaks, it is clear that Rahim Khan has been well educated, and as a result, he is both eloquent and has a wide vocabulary.
When Rahim Khan does speak, it is usually out of the need/want to help someone, either defending Amir, congratulating/praising someone or giving advice.
Politeness plays a part in Rahim Khan's speech, using the expected formalities such as Agha (title of respect), Sahib (companion or follower), Inshallah (If God wills, let it be by the will of God), Mashallah (by the grace of God, used as an expression of surprise), Jan (added to the end of the name of someone you love or hold dear - my dear, my life, my soul)
When he feels strongly about something, he is capable of lying and manipulating people in order to achieve a goal. Trying to use Amir's feelings in order to persuade Amir to tell him about what Amir had seen happen to Hassan and lying about the American couple orphanage runners are two examples.
Excerpts from the Text
Understanding - Baba
"I loved him because he was my friend, but also because he was a good man, maybe even a great man. And this is what I want you to understand, that good, real good, was born out of your father’s remorse. Sometimes, I think everything he did, feeding the poor on the streets, building the orphanage, giving money to friends in need, it was all his way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir Jan, when guilt leads to good.” – Rahim Khan’s letter to Amir (p302)
Understanding - Amir
“But I hope you will heed this: A man who has no conscience, no goodness, does not suffer” -Rahim Khan’s letter to Amir (p301)
“There is a way to be good again.” (p2)
Manipulative - Amir
“I have a wife in America, a home, a career, and a family. Kabul is a dangerous place, you know that, and you’d have me risk everything for…” I stopped.
“You know," Rahim Khan said, “one time, when you weren’t around, your father and I were talking. And you know how he always worried about you in those days. I remember he said to me, ‘Rahim, a boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.’ I wonder, is that what you’ve become?” (p221)
Caring - Amir
“[to Baba about Amir] Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” – Rahim Khan (p21)
“You should have seen the look on my father’s face when I told him. My mother actually fainted. My sisters splashed her face with water. They fanned her and looked at me as if I had slit her throat. My brother Jalal actually went to fetch his hunting rifle before my father stopped him. It was Homaira and me against the world. And I’ll tell you this, Amir Jan: In the end, the world always wins. That’s just the way of things.” – Rahim Khan (p99)
Note: Rahim Khan always refers to Amir as "Amir Jan" out of respect.
Rahim Khan is an important yet minor character within The Kite Runner. This is because those parts that he does intervene in Amir's life are vital for his transition from boy to man. Furthermore, Rahim Khan's encouragement was probably the only reason that Amir finally decided to redeem himself.