The Kite Runner, aka The Guilt Trip from Hell

The more you suffer
The more it shows you really care
Right? Yeah!
– Self-Esteem, The Offspring

Done right, sacrifice is a form of reciprocity, a way of restoring fairness to the world. Done wrong, it is self-flaggelation – meaningless self-destruction meant to absolve the doer of the crime of incompetence.

The Kite Runner is a tale of a non-paretian morality, a morality which weighs actions by price paid and not goods received. The story is driven by a tesselation of increasingly wasteful sacrifices, with accompanying escalation of conflict. Hassan, servant-friend of protagonist Amir, makes two sacrifices which depress the total-sum by enough to make the subsequent return to normality a truly heroic feat. As a child, Hassan gets raped in exchange for a kite, and then as an adult dies protecting an abandoned house. Protagonist Amir gets beaten up pretty badly too at the end of the book, suffering his own fair share, showing that he understood the rules of the game and was merely a really bad player.

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