What is the significance of Amir's dream of fighting the bear? Why is this important in terms of the primary conflict of the novel?
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Amir's recovery is the second time in the novel that Hosseini uses broken images to convey a sense of detachment from reality. The first was when Amir witnessed Hassan's rape in the alleyway. The most important image from Amir's recovery time is his dream about Baba wrestling the bear, in which he is Baba. The story about Baba and the bear was a neighborhood legend, which Amir had later taken to represent any trouble Baba went through. When Baba died, Amir called his cancer "the Bear he could not defeat." The dream is full of symbolism on many levels. One one level, Amir is Baba and Assef is the bear. Amir describes how "Spittle and blood fly; claw and hand swipe." He even says, "They fall to the ground with a loud thud," which also describes the moment just before Sohrab saved Amir. Amir knows that by escaping, he has bested Assef just as Baba supposedly killed the bear. On another level, the dream is about Amir coming to terms with his guilt, which the bear represents. When he puts himself in grave danger on Sohrab's behalf, Amir is challenging his guilt-challenging the bear. It is important that the dream ends with Amir beating the bear but not killing it. Just as he does not kill the bear in his dream, Amir has not yet defeated his guilt. Only when he runs the kite for Sohrab is he redeemed.