Afghan-american writer Khaled Hosseini is one of the most famous new stars of contemporary American literature. He is the author of the kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid SUNS and The Mountains sing back. His first novel, The Kite Runner, won various new Artist awards in 2003 and was highly praised in the world literary circle. He was awarded the UN Humanitarian Award in 2006 and was invited to serve as a goodwill ambassador for unhcr. Critics praised the book as “a book that aspires to lift the dust from the faces of ordinary Afghans and show the throbbing soul behind it”. This paper, from a new perspective and using multiple literary criticism strategies, explores the correlation between the transformation of characters’ ethics and the recovery from mental trauma, as well as the multi-cultural ideas contained in the text. Therefore, this study deeply understands the rich connotation of literary ethical criticism, that is, “literary ethical criticism is to explore, evaluate, study, with the help of imagination and fiction in the works of human society in the representation of all kinds of relations of literature outlined the complex relations”. These ethical relations include survival ethics, interpersonal ethics, family ethics and so on. The researchers mainly explore the absence of family ethical relations and the conflict and integration of ethics among Asian people, as well as the causes of individual psychological trauma or spiritual alienation, thus helping readers to deepen their understanding of the multiple implications of ethical thoughts and psychological trauma theory in the novel. As Judith Herman, a renowned psychologist, puts it, “The central experience of trauma is disempowerment and disconnetion.” It can be seen that people’s ethical identity dilemma and loss of autonomy are closely related to their mental trauma. At the same time, the lack of individual ethical identity can also be explored from ethnic, racial, gender and other cultural origins. Therefore, only by getting rid of the spiritual imprisonment, pursuing the path of trauma recovery, surpassing themselves, and practicing the ethics of human harmony and mutual love, can the victims open up a new journey of life. This paper uses the strategy of combining literary ethics criticism, psychoanalysis theory and cultural research to trace the trauma track of the Afghan ethnic family characters in the novel the Kite Runner, and deeply explains the transformation characteristics of the diaspora’s ethics and social, historical and cultural origins, to reveal their cosmopolitanism.
Second, the absence of family ethical relations and the generation of trauma
Khaled Hosseini, the author of the novel, stressed, “The most important subject that I continue to touch upon in my writing is family.” The theme of family ethics in the work contains the characteristics of individuality, nationality and world. Human history shows that family affection is the indispensable foundation stone of human creation and development and the lasting power on the road of life. However, family crisis will also occur in the family, leading to ethical conflicts among members, and even estrangement of relatives. For example, “The Kite Runner” shows the conflicting ethics of different characters in Afghan families, as well as their ethical choices and spiritual transformation journey.
First, to trace amir’s unfortunate life and family background in his childhood, and explore the origin of his ethical identity loss and trauma. The hero’s mother died when he was just born, and the lack of paternal love in his childhood led to the dislocation of the ethical relationship between father and son. His heart was tortured and his personality was distorted. Amir, however, had his share of childhood joys. He grew up with hassan, the servant’s son, as a brother. They often played together, reading poems and telling stories. As the son of a wealthy Pashtun businessman, Amir gets along well with hassan, a servant of the hazara minority, which highlights his and his family’s humanistic love for harmony and mutual love of all ethnic groups, which makes readers appreciate it. However, with the change of ethical environment, the characters’ ethical thoughts also change, which leads to emotional crisis between father and son. For example, after the protagonist goes to school, he yearns more for his father’s love, but he is repeatedly neglected by his father, which makes him secretly sad. His father was disillusioned by amir’s weak writing, as he expected his son to be a warrior, and took his son’s weak character for granted. He dismissed his son’s literary talents, even the novel amir had written. This deeply hurt Amir’s self-esteem, resulting in his lack of ethical identity and suffering in his heart. On the contrary, his father took great care of hassan, the son of the maid, and even Hassan’s family received special attention. Every birthday hassan received a beautiful gift from Amir’s father, Amir’s father also invited a famous doctor to do surgery for Hassan to cure cleft lip. This move more let Amir jealous fire reignite, hence father fei heart slander. His spirit has been frustrated for a long time, psychological trauma gradually generated.
Second, the subjective factor of estrangement between father and son is the lack of ethics of both sides. First of all, Amir’s personality defects affect the father-son relationship. He was weak and narrow-minded, and forgot his childhood friends because of jealousy. But the servant Hassan is open-minded, kind and tolerant, brave to help others. Amir’s father admired Hassan’s personality, but was even more contemptuous of his son’s weaknesses and worried about his future. So he decided to cultivate his son’s spirit of courage and struggle. His father volunteered to sign amir up for the soccer team, but Amir stumbled around the field, never touching the ball, and his teammates ignored him. His father took him to watch jousts, and he wailed in horror when a fallen knight was trampled by dozens of hooves and bloodied the sand. The father was speechless with disgust at his son’s timidity. Later, he and his friend Rahim Khan said of Amir: “Whenever the neighborhood kids bullied him, Hassan would stand up and fight them back. I saw it with my own eyes. … A boy who can’t defend himself can’t defend anything when he grows up.” It can be seen that the father questioned Amir’s personality and the rift between father and son was deep. Secondly, father’s neglect of his son’s personality development and emotional needs is also one of the reasons for the alienation of father and son. Amir’s father turned a deaf ear to his son’s personality advantages and literary talent, and his preference for Hassan but indifference to Amir led to the lack of ethical relations in the family.
Thirdly, the contradiction between the national cultural norms and the protagonist’s personality is the deep cause of his injury. “The concept of nation is made up of language and culture, and daily life practices, customs, rituals and even folklore and legends are important to national/cultural identity,” Hurd said. The protagonist is the Pashtun ethnic group in Afghanistan, which is the main ethnic group of the country and is brave and skilled in war in history. Amir’s father’s extraordinary martial arts are the male model of the nation’s culture, in contrast to his son’s cowardly character. His father believed that Amir had lost his ethnic and family heritage and was disappointed in his son. Obviously, amir’s lack of cultural identity proves that “in a certain sense, national identity mainly comes from a cultural psychological identity”. According to Afghan national culture, father represents a kind of law or family and social system, and “children confirm their independent subjective personality by identifying with their father”. Amir’s personality weakness means that his ethnic and gender cultural identity is facing a crisis. As time went by, Amir’s ethical choice became confused. Undaunted, amir chose to participate in kite fighting in order to gain his father’s approval. With Hassan’s help, he actively participated in the local kite competition and won the championship. The hero shows his nation’s unique macho courage, embodies the subject value.
Judith Hermann emphasizes the importance of cultivating children’s self-consciousness and stimulating their spiritual motivation from the perspective of psychoanalysis. “If a parent who is much more powerful than the child shows an emphasis on individuality and dignity, the child will feel valued and respected and will develop self-esteem,” she said. Amir’s first success, instantly acclaimed, demonstrates the importance of ethnic and gender cultural norms to personal development. However, Amir’s personality weakness did not fundamentally change. His father was still indifferent to him, but considerate to Hassan, and Amir’s psychological trauma became more and more serious.
Third, father-son relationship identity reappearance crisis and deepening psychological trauma
Nie Zhenzhao, a famous scholar, stressed that “no matter what kind of cultural identity a person has, he or she must abide by the appropriate moral norms and make ethical choices in line with his or her identity”. We analyze the causes of amir and his father’s ethical dilemma from the relevance of their ethical choices. Amir’s father went against the national moral norms and made a wrong ethical choice: he had an affair with the maid and gave birth to Hassan. Hassan’s life was hidden by his father for many years, and Hassan died unknown. Amir was also unaware of this for many years, which led to brothers unable to recognize each other and even estranged. Obviously, Amir’s father is the initiator of the dislocation of family ethics. As a result, the father and son had bad feelings, and the brothers began to have bad feelings, which deepened Amir’s trauma. As time passed, Amir’s repressed emotions finally came out. Once, he followed Hassan to chase a kite to the remote alleyway, Hassan suffered Asaif and other three Pashtun thuff siege and insult. Amir did not stop it, but made a wrong ethical choice: retreat. Right now, Amir shows the cowardice of human nature, also forgot the friendship of two people in the past. Afterwards, Amir could not face Hassan, but he thought of his father’s love for Hassan, and his heart was burning with jealousy. He did another injustice to Hassan: he filed a complaint against his father, accusing Hassan of stealing his money and his watch. Amir was surprised, however, that his father forgave Hassan. What makes him even more puzzled is that when Hassan’s family offered to resign, Amir’s father took pains to keep him and cried, which made the protagonist even jealous and bitter. Eventually, enraged by the humiliation, the Hassan family left the house.
In addition, the lack and conflict of the hero’s family ethics are also caused by the fetters of race and ethical identity. For example, in order to regain his father’s love, amir bullied Hassan with racial advantage, and Hassan had to bear the humiliation and live in ethical dilemma due to his humble status. Thus, Amir’s mistake stems from the deep racial divide in his heart. “In the end, I am a Pashtun and he is a Hazara… Nothing can change that. No.” Accordingly, Amir denied that he had been a friend of Hassan and committed an act of injustice. Amir’s father is also trapped by race, due to hassan’s mother is hazara, has not been recognized with his illegitimate son Hassan, resulting in the identity difference between Hassan and Amir, the fate of each other is different. Before long, Amir felt guilty again, ashamed of his despicable behavior, a sign of his humanity. Amir’s “self-image, debased by chronic trauma, is all the more depressing.” This made Amir’s inner pain torture him for decades, leading to the deepening of his trauma.
Fourth, the ethics of the diaspora reconstruction and spiritual transformation
Amir and his father in the fugitive life, always miss the past of their childhood, the trauma of their hometown, and their own ethical misconduct deeply remorse. After suffering and suffering, he realized self-redemption and rebirth under the enlightenment of others, and reconstructed the new ethics.
In the novel, amir, a young man in his hometown, finds himself in the dilemma of different ethnic and cultural ethics, which eventually leads to his ethical anomy and trauma. When the hero moved to the United States, he was shocked by the new beauty and advanced country, and under the nourishment of diverse culture, inspired the motivation to forge ahead. He broke free from the constraints of Afghan culture and gradually became a cosmopolitan who respected diversity and integration. At the same time, the hero uses his intelligence to finish high school with honors and become a college student. His father invited his fellow villagers and white friends to a feast in his honor. Amir’s optimism and progress comforted his father, and the father and son gradually reconciled, and Amir’s psychological trauma tended to improve. What is more gratifying to the readers is that the hero’s writing talent is restored under the care and approval of his father and wife. His works were integrated into the essence of eastern and western culture and published and won awards, which confirmed that the Asian diaspora began to enter the journey of ethical identity reconstruction and spiritual transformation. Inspired by Hassan’s noble personality, the protagonist is tolerant of others, and respects, blends and learns from each other no matter with white Americans or other ethnic groups, so as to construct his multicultural identity and cosmopolitan ethics. Since then, he decided to return to Afghanistan to save his family, to achieve self-redemption, highlighting his cosmopolitan humanistic feelings.
The famous scholar Quimai Anthony Appiah emphasized that “a prominent feature of cosmopolitanism is respect for differences, for real individuals, and for human feelings expressed in the form of beliefs”. The protagonist’s multiculturalism and rejection of his past narrow nationalist tendencies fuel his return to his homeland for redemption. In addition, the instruction of others is also a direct reason for the hero’s eagerness to return home. Rahim Khan, his father’s good friend, admired the young Amir’s literary talent, often tutored him in his writing and praised Amir’s literary talent in front of his father. Rahim Khan, who was seriously ill, gave Amir his inheritance and informed him that Hassan was his brother. Rahim Khan also told Amir of his father’s remorse for his SINS. He praised amir’s father for his good deeds, such as funding the construction of orphanage for the local elderly, giving alms to the street poor and supporting many friends in urgent need. “This is the redemption of a good man,” Rahim Khan said with emotion. At the same time, Rahim Khan also asked Amir to return home and bring Hassan’s son back to the family. This made Amir untangle the knot in his heart for many years. He felt ashamed of the mistakes he had made to Hassan and hoped to return to his hometown to achieve self-redemption. Rahim Khan’s earnest love for his friends makes readers weep and highlights the humanistic sentiments of the Asian diaspora.
Since then, Amir went back to Afghanistan to make up for the lack of ethical relationship between him and Hassan and reconstruct a new ethical relationship. It is stated in trauma psychology that “recovery of trauma should first be based on the restoration of survivors’ rights and the establishment of new relationships”. In order to compensate for the guilt and memory of Hassan, Amir risked his life to save Sohrab, hassan’s son, from his Kabul cell and brought him back to the United States to raise him. Amir happily took Sohrab flying a kite in Lake Elizabeth Park in Fremont, USA, and told him about Hassan’s excellent kite flying skills. From then on, they live a happy life under the sunshine of love, and fill the missing family and ethical relationship of the protagonist. In the United States, Amir sent e-mails to friends around the world to raise money to build a hospital for Afghan refugees.
There is no doubt that the protagonist has crossed the nationalistic gap and realized the integration of diverse cultures and the transformation of ethical identity in his difficult journey of seeking the identity of family ethical relations. An Afghan Pashtun, he is now An AfghAn-American, the brother of Hassan, the housemaid’s son, and the uncle and foster father of Sohrab, Hassan’s son. Amir has integrated into the American society, reconstructed the multicultural identity, and practiced the ethics of harmony and mutual love among all ethnic groups, which highlighted his cosmopolitanism.