The Kite Runner: Characters
Amir is the narrator of the story. He is an intelligent child who lives with his wealthy father whom he calls Baba and their servants who are more like family, Ali and Hassan. Amir admires his father and wants nothing more than to make him proud, but he is not athletic or exceedingly masculine as Baba would like him to be. Amir is more interested in using his imagination and in writing. He is often jealous of the attention that Hassan gets from Baba and eventually pushes him away. Years later Amir’s father has died, as have Hassan and Ali; and Amir learns Hassan is actually his half-brother. He gets redemption for his past behavior by finding Hassan’s son and bringing him to America.
Hassan is the son of Ali, best friend of Amir, and as it is found out later the son of Baba. Hassan is fiercely loyal to Amir even when he does not deserve it. Hassan is discriminated against by bullies when he is a young boy because he is Hazara, and in his adult years he is one of the victims of a Hazara massacre executed by the Taliban. He writes Amir a series of letters that Amir is not able to read until after Hassan’s death; Amir learns that Hassan still considered him his best friend and did not hold a grudge. Guilt over the way he treated Hassan is Amir’s driving force during most of the novel.
Baba is the father of Amir and also of Hassan though that fact is not revealed until later on. Baba is a businessman who is well-respected and very wealthy. Babe tries to impart his beliefs on how to be a stand-up gentleman to Amir and also wants Amir to participate in more masculine activities, such as sports. Baba is willing to stand up for what he believes in even when it may not be the best idea for his own well-being. He is ashamed that he fathered a child with Hassan’s Hazara mother, and because of this he does not reveal that Hassan is his son. His inner turmoil causes him to be distant to Amir at times, though he does love him very much.
Ali is the father of Hassan, in terms of being the man who raised him. He is a servant of Baba, but he and Hassan are very close to Baba and Amir, more so than servants would normally be. Ali is often teased by the local children because of the fact that he is Hazara and also because he suffered from polio and it left him with a droopy face from paralysis and a limp. He loves Hassan very much and is protective of him, though he does not readily express his emotions. He is killed by a land mine after Amir and Baba flee to America.
Rahim Khan is an old family friend of Amir and Baba. He is the one person in the world who was the closest to Baba and who knows all of Baba’s secrets, which he tells to Amir after Baba has passed away. Throughout Amir’s childhood Rahim served as a father-figure to him when Amir was disappointed by Baba’s lack of fatherly instincts. Rahim always supported Amir’s writing and even gave him a leather-bound journal for one of his birthdays. After Rahim gets Amir back to Kabul with instructions on how to “be good again,” he leaves money for Amir and then he dies.
Soraya is the wife of Amir. Soraya is very smart and is supportive of Amir in anything that he wants to do. Soraya had been worried that no one would want to marry her after learning of her past; she ran away with a boyfriend and her father chased her down, threatened to kill the boyfriend, and cut off Soraya’s hair. Soraya has a very strong will and does not approve of the way Afghan women are treated. She welcomes Sohrab to her family because she knows that it is what Amir wants and tries to be a good adoptive mother to him despite the fact that he is totally mute and unreceptive.
Sohrab is the son of Hassan and his wife Farzana. Sohrab is basically an older version of his father, and for Amir he is a substitute for Hassan and a way to redeem himself for sins of the past.Sohrab was put into an orphanage after the death of his parents and was purchased from the orphanage by the Taliban. When Amir finds Sohrab he is living with a Taliban cleric who Amir discovers is his childhood nemesis Assef. Amir also discovers that Sohrab is being molested by Assef just as Hassan was when they were boys. Sohrab attempts to take his own life, stops speaking, and eventually moves to America with Amir.
Assef is the antagonist of the novel. When Amir and Hassan are kids Assef and two other boys bully them, especially Hassan. Assef rapes Hassan in an alley the day of the kite-fighting tournament and is seen by Amir, though he does not know. When the Taliban comes in, Assef and his family are taken prisoner but Assef soon becomes one of them and participates in the massacre of the Hazaras, including Hassan. Assef encounters Amir again when Amir comes to his home looking for Hassan’s child, who Assef has also been raping.
Farid drives Amir around to find Hassan’s son when he first arrives back in Afghanistan. At first Farid does not like Amir because he has a strong dislike of wealthy people and feels as though it was weak of Amir to leave his country just when things started to get bad. Eventually he proves to be a great friend and asset to Amir in finding Sohrab. Farid sticks with Amir until he finds Sohrab though he parts ways soon after to get back to his family. Amir gives Farid $2000 for his help and Farid is amazed by his generosity.
Sanaubar is Hassan’s mother who abandoned him shortly after he was born. As a young woman, she was very beautiful and attracted the attention of many men, even married men. Later in the novel Amir finds out that Sanaubar slept with Baba because Baba is actually Hassan’s father. She appears again later in the novel, worse for the ware, and Hassan is kind enough to nurse her back to health. She delivers her grandson and helps to care for him, as a way of redeeming herself, until her illness gets the best of her and she dies.
General Taheri is the father of Soraya and Amir’s father-in-law. He is a very headstrong man with clearly defined opinions and beliefs. General Taheri is also a good friend of Baba, while he is alive and it is Baba who encourages Amir to ask the General if he can marry Soraya. He tends to be arrogant at times and he feels very strongly about keeping with Afghan traditions, even in America. He serves as a stereotypical representation of what an Afghan father and husband would be like. The General is a nice guy for the most part, but he does have his moments of cruelty.
Sofia was Amir’s mother and the wife of Baba. Sofia does not ever appear in the novel because she died during childbirth, but she is mentioned several times. Amir learns about Sofia from other people and also from the things that she left behind. For example, Sofia had poetry books and books about Hazaras, which shows her forward thinking and compassion about ethnicity. Sofia taught English at the university and Amir gets the impression from people that she was a kind and wonderful woman.
Farzana was the wife of Hassan and the mother of Sohrab. Farzana is a lovely young Hazara woman who leaves Hazajarat with Hassan to live with Rahim Khan in Baba’s old home. Despite the fact that there is plenty of room in the main house, Farzana and Hassan live in Hassan’s old servant’s quarters. Farzana seems to have loved her son very much, but she is not able to stay around for long in his life. Farzana is killed at the same time as Hassan, when they are massacred by the Taliban for being in a part of Kabul where they are not welcome.
Khanum Taheri is the wife of the General and the mother of Soraya. She is typical of an Afghan woman in the sense that she is very respectful of her husband and follows his orders and requests happily. She also wants nothing more than to see her daughter get married. Aside from this she is a very caring and likeable character. She is always fussing over everyone and worrying about her own health, though that just shows how compassionate she is for others. She knits her new adopted grandson Sohrab a sweater when he comes to America.
Wahid is the brother of Farid. He welcomes Amir into his home to take refuge for a night and to have dinner. He is very generous with what little he actually has and Amir notices that Wahid’s children cannot take their eyes off his food while he is there. Wahid is embarrassed by Farid when he makes remarks about Amir only wanting to return home to make money off his own land. He is a very gracious host and to thank him for his hospitality, Amir leaves some money for his family when he leaves.