These have been my favourite chapters so far, but so much happens in them!
In chapter 16 we are reading the narrative of Rahim Khan. Hosseini does this to provide the reader with all the details of his visit to Hazarajat, which he travels to in order to find Hassan. Mainly because he claims he is lonely, but I believe he does this because he knows his time is short, and he wants someone to carry on the legacy of Baba and his house.
I quite like the fact that it is coming from Rahim Khans perspective because it is very wise and un-biased as opposed to Amir’s constant negative outlook and un-fair opinionated thoughts, especially when talking about Hassan or Baba. Rahim Khans story is also fairly reliable as it wasn’t more than two years ago that he visited Hassan whereas when Amir was telling us the story, we were aware of the huge time gap that was presented, which almost made it hard for me to trust Amir’s imagination. I think Hosseini uses this so we get a clear and reliable source of information and to obviously tell us about Hassan, who we had long assumed would not return in to Amir’s path.
We find out that Hassan has a wife, and a baby on the away. We find out that Ali died, stepping on a landmine, which Rahim Khan describes as betrayal from his twisted, polio right leg. Rahim describes the meal that Fazara (Hassan’s wife) cooks for him as ‘the best meal I’d had in months’. This makes us feel as if Hassan has found a wife who is equally as caring and un-selfish as he is, as well as both of them being extremely welcoming to Rahim. We also see that Hassan is the same devoted boy that we remember, but now a man. Rahim tells Amir that Hassan described Baba as his ‘second father’ and that in mourning for Baba, Hassan wore black clothes for forty days after finding out. We see the same kind, caring and loving Hassan that we remember, and it made me feel a sense of relief to know that the incident didn’t change Hassan and scar him as bad as we see it did Amir. However we do not know what goes on in Hassan’s head, but to the outside world it seems Hassan has been able to pull it together and get on with his life. He is not stuck in the past, staring down that alley way every day, as we know Amir is. We know this because he is quite oblivious to the fact that Amir accused him and Ali of stealing from him so many years ago, he asked eagerly how Amir is and what he is doing and how he is finding America. This shows us that as always, Hassan is willing to forgive and forget. Hassan is symbol of peace.
We also hear Rahim describe the re-united experience of Hassan and his long lost mother Sanuabar. How she knocked on the gate one day and was so hurt and hungry and weak she just collapsed. Rahim tells us how she used to be seen as a ‘vision’ but now was a scared bleeding mess, now only left with one operating eye. He tells us how she delivered Hassan’s baby boy; Sohrab. Most important of all he then tells Amir that Sanuabar passed away. But I think is so important about this is how he described her. He described her to Amir by saying ‘She lived to see him turn four, and then, one morning, she just did not wake up. She looked so calm, at peace, like she did not mind dying now’. This paragraph made me think that in fact Hosseini uses Rahim’s narrative aspect to finally persuade Amir to take control, to take action and to find clarity. I think he uses Rahim to bring out more guilt in Amir and to show him that ‘there is a way to be good again’. Rahim describes Sanuabar as ‘at peace, calm’ as if she has now completed what she wanted to. She is now ok to move on with her life, which in this case is dying, because she has redeemed her relationship with Hassan. Not only that but she has acquired a very story relationship with Hassan’s son. She was once more a part of her family, which she longer for and ‘dreamed of’ as she told Hassan. She has been forgiven, which is what she needed in order to cross over from her life and she achieved that. She made up for her sins of leaving Hassan as a child. She made up for leaving him all those years and she came back and got what she needed in this life to make her feel at peace.
I think this is a symbolic sign for Amir. If Sanuabar can redeem her sins then maybe Amir can too. He must confront his past and he must redeem himself in any way possible. He needs to be at peace as well, and he knows this.
I think the fact that it is in the voice of Rahim is also so important, because Rahim is the only one who truly ever believed in Amir, he held more trust in Amir that Amir did in himself. This is one of the factors that I think will convince Amir to make everything right and to convince him to take control and cleanse himself. The voice of Rahim is wise, and it supports Amir to do what is right.