Characters make up the skeleton of a story. They convey the author’s ideas and beliefs about and relationships with the world and other people. Major characters in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini are discussed below.
Characters in The Kite Runner
One of the central characters, Amir, belongs to an elite class of Afghans having the privilege of living in villas and visiting foreign countries. Rich by Afghan standards, Baba, his father, provides Amir with all the comforts of life, including the best education available. However, he feels emotionally detached from his father, and he always lets Baba down when it comes to showing courage in the face of trivial confrontations, including protecting his friend and servant, Hassan. However, Baba does not realize that Amir is jealous of the affection that Hassan receives from Baba. He insults Hassan every chance he gets. Despite his cruelty, Hassan is always quick to defend and assist Amir. For this reason, he chooses to go after the blue kite, thinking it will bring Baba’s applause for him. In doing so, he sacrifices Hassan to Assef and his bully friends, who rape him.
As an adult, Amir recognizes the injustice that he has done to Hassan and feels remorseful. He knows that no amount of repentance can now bring him happiness. He comes to know this pain, even more, when he marries Soraya, and they are unable to have children. When Sohrab enters his life, he becomes an antidote to Amir’s pain. When Amir confronts Assef, he thinks that Sohrab is like a lamb to be sacrificed, but he saves him and sacrifices himself. This is how he redeems himself of his past guilt. He then assumes the role of Sohrab’s father, adopts him, and takes him to America.
Hassan is an ethnic Hazara boy and is raised as the son of Baba and Amir’s servant, Ali. In reality, he is Baba’s son, and therefore he is Amir’s half-brother, which Amir does not discover until he visits Afghanistan as an adult. Despite Amir’s jealousy toward Hassan, Hassan displays unwavering loyalty toward Amir. However, he feels betrayed when bullies attack him and rape him, and Amir merely watches from a distance without coming to his aid. Hassan disappears from the novel for a while and reenters as a married adult with a son, Sohrab. Hassan and his wife are killed, and Sohrab is orphaned, setting the stage for Amir to reenter and rescue the boy.
A wealthy and secular liberal, Baba’s first reaction toward everything is whether it is right or not. He has tried his best to instill the same qualities in his son, Amir. He thinks that if a person can do good things in his childhood, he can do good things for himself. His persona exudes not only self-assurance having developed his own ethical framework. However, it also gives courage and critical thinking when living in an orthodox society. Baba thinks that a person should have the courage of his conviction to the point of laying down his life for it. Amir constantly lets him down in this regard, and he has trouble showing affection toward his son. However, he hides the fact that he has had a child—Hassan—with a Hazara woman, an act of shame for an ethnic Pashtun at that time. Despite failing to recognize Hassan as his son, Baba showers him with affection, setting the stage for Amir’s jealousy of Hassan. However, as an adult, Amir shows his love for Hassan by adopting his son, Sohrab.
Rahim Khan is another important character of the novel, who stays very important on account of his business relations with Baba and his belief in Amir. He not only identifies the creative soul in Amir but also encourages him to write stories. Proving a true friend to Amir, he even confronts Baba, who trusts him more than anybody else in the city of Kabul. As an adult, Amir travels to Pakistan to see Rahim Khan, where they discuss his relationship with Hassan. Rahim Khan tells Amir about Sohrab, convincing him to rescue the boy and redeem himself. Rahim finally speaks the truth to Amir to save himself as well as Amir from their guilt of the past.
Sohrab is another major character of the novel, The Kite Runner. He is the son of Hassan and Farzana. When Amir returns to Afghanistan from the United States, he is saddened to find that Hassan has died and that his son, Sohrab, is facing his father’s enemies. He then becomes a focus of the plot when he comes across Assef and Amir, who we learn is actually his uncle. Sohrab suffers a lot of trauma by what he’s experienced with Assef. Later, Amir tries to send him to an orphanage while arranging the legalities of adoption. Terrified of returning to a situation as he had with Assef, Sohrab tried to kill himself. Fortunately, he survives, and Amir takes him to the US with Soraya’s help. However, Sohrab doesn’t speak again for the rest of the novel. There is a slight bit of hope when, in the end, he chases a kite-like his father Hassan and smiles for the first time in a long time.
A neighboring bully from a German mother and Afghan father, Assef is the antagonist of the novel. A bully to the core, he carries steel brass knuckles to fix the boys who do not fall in line with him. Out of hatred for Hazara’s, he tries to hurt Hassan, who threatens to use his slingshot to gouge out Assef’s eyes. As revenge for Hassan’s humiliation of him, he later rapes Hassan. As an adult, Assef is a member of the Taliban and buys Hassan’s son, Sohrab, and subjects him to sexual abuse.
Daughter of a former Afghan general, Taheri, Soraya is a loyal wife for Amir. Her infertility and desire for a child lead Amir to bring Sohrab home with him after his journey to Afghanistan. Soraya soon takes Sohrab in her fold and cares for him, just as she takes care of Baba in his last days. A very kind and loving lady, she helps Amir to have a different view of the world around him; that is, to treat near and dear ones with care and love.
An ethnic Hazara, Ali is Baba’s servant and Hassan’s father. As a Hazara and a Shia Muslim, he is an outcast in Kabul; despite this, Baba treats him with love and kindness. Ali is lame in one leg and walks with a limp; this physical deformity makes him the butt of jokes from the street boys. He loves Hassan and passes his admirable character traits, such as loyalty and love, on to him.
Hassan’s mother and Ali’s wife, Sanauber, abandons Hassan after he is born. A dancer, she is considered by Afghan society to be a woman of bad character. She returns to Hassan after she has passed her prime with the dancers. She proves a grandmother to Sohrab by the end.
A rough and tough taxi driver, Farid befriends Amir and helps him. Amir, too, tries to repay him m by hiding some money under the bed to help him out of his poverty.