The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Atonement by Joe Wright both use literary and film techniques to contrast and highlight the theme of guilt and its effects on their individual stories. The Kite Runner explores this theme through its use of imagery, characterization and irony much like Atonement. The theme of guilt in The Kite Runner is explored through its protagonist, Amir, who like Briony in Atonement, is affected and driven by this guilt to a form of redemption. Similarly, Wright's protagonist is driven to a form of redemption by her own guilt but ultimately fails in her quest due to her lack of courage. .
In Wright's Atonement and Hosseini's The Kite Runner, guilt is explored through the use of irony. The Kite Runner and Atonement both use irony to emphasise the theme of guilt through the eyes of their protagonists. The Kite Runner shows Amir seeking the constant attention of his father and through that he attempts to show off some of his skill by presenting the winning kite to his dad. Amir then uses Hassan as a "sacrificial lamb", a symbol employed by Hosseini, to win over his father. While he manages to create some form of connection between Baba, it is soon lost with the irony of the situation driving Amir towards his feelings of guilt. From then on he attempts to absolve himself of this guilt and the sins he has committed. Hosseini uses this irony and through that, guilt, to position the reader to despise Amir and his actions. Similarly, in Atonement, Wright also uses irony to explore the theme of guilt. Briony's misconstrued observation of Cecilia and Robbie's relationship leads her to believe that the relationship is impure and when she reads Robbie's letter she believes him to be a "sex maniac" which further emphasises her misinterpretation. Her misunderstanding of Cecilia and Robbie's relationship is the catalyst of the film's subsequent events.