“My body was broken—but I felt healed,” thought Amir while he was getting beaten to death. In a similar situation to the one years before, Amir now stood next to Hassan’s son, Sohrab, against the same enemy, Assef. Throughout the majority of this book, readers constantly witness Amir’s guilt, regret, and self-hatred of the day he betrayed Hassan. He also looked at himself as a coward and someone who could never stand up for something. Through these instances I have realized that there are two possibilities of why Amir was laughing hysterically while getting trashed around by Assef. One possibility is that Amir is relieved that he is finally able to repay for his sins. Another possibility, that isn’t stated in the book, is that Amir is happy with himself for standing up for someone else and not being a coward.
The first reason Amir felt healed and relieved that he was getting a beating is stated on page 289. Amir’s brokenness used to be on the inside, but now after his body was broken by Assef, it is as if the pain inside is finally able to escape, leave, and be free from Amir. He always felt guilty for not standing up for Hassan when Hassan got raped and even asked Hassan to throw pomegranates at him. However, because Hassan did it unwillingly, Amir still felt unhappy with himself and went on to distance himself from Hassan. Now at last, Amir is able to receive, in his opinion, a suitable punishment for his crimes and be released from this burden. This is why he burst out in laughter and felt healed even as Assef bashed his skull in. Although his life was slipping away from him as each moment passed, he felt more whole than he had ever felt for a long time.
The second reason Amir felt “healed at last” was because Amir was finally standing up for someone. Although he doesn’t say it himself, I believe that Amir is actually proud of himself that he had made it this far just to save a kid he has never met before. He was finally doing what Hassan could do and what he could never do, he was standing up against the enemy. When Assef bullied them before, Amir hid from the problem. When Hassan got raped, Amir ran away from the problem. When Afghanistan had problems, Amir ran away to America. Finally, Amir was taking a stand and going head to head with the problem. For most of his life he had labeled himself as a coward and now, even though he wasn’t winning the fight, he wasn’t a coward and was standing up for Hassan’s kid, something he was never able to do for Hassan many years ago.