The protagonist and narrator of the novel, a wealthy boy who grows up in Kabul, Afghanistan along with his father, Baba. Amir abuses his privileges over his servant and loyal friend, Hassan, and then fails to come to his aid when Hassan is being raped by local bullies after a kite-fighting tournament. The rest of the novel deals with Amir’s guilt, his growing maturity (as he and Baba move to the U.S.), and his quest for redemption.
Amir’s father, a larger-than-life figure with wild hair and a loud voice, who works hard and succeeds at all of his endeavors, but stands by his strict moral principles. Baba’s great sin is committing adultery with Ali’s wife, and he is Hassan’s real father. Baba’s many works of charity and the orphanage he builds are part of his attempts to redeem himself.
Amir’s childhood playmate and companion, a Hazara boy with a cleft lip. Hassan is an excellent kite runner, and is naturally intelligent, but illiterate because of his social class. He is always loyal to Amir, even when Amir betrays him. Hassan eventually marries Farzana, and has a son namedSohrab.
Hassan’s son, a boy who is sent to an orphanage when Hassan and Farzana are killed. He is then taken from the orphanage and sexually abused by Assef, until Amir comes for him and brings him back to America. Sohrab is a symbol of all the terrible things that have happened to both the characters and the country of Afghanistan, but he also offers a chance for hope and redemption.
Hassan’s father, a Hazara who was orphaned as a boy and then taken in by Baba’s father and raised as Baba’s playmate and servant. The lower half of Ali’s face is paralyzed, and he was crippled in one leg by polio, but Ali remains cheerful and kind.
The antagonist of the novel, a blue-eyed, sadistic boy who idolizes Hitler, torments children with his brass knuckles, and later rapes Hassan. As an adult Assef joins the Taliban, where he is given free reign to exercise his violent and pedophilic nature.
The daughter of General Taheri. As a young woman Soraya ran away with an Afghan man, “dishonoring” herself. Amir falls in love with her and they get married, and Soraya later becomes a teacher.
Baba’s close friend and business associate, a kind man who often seems to understand the young Amir better than Baba does. Rahim Khan encourages Amir’s writing, and as an old man he summons Amir back to Afghanistan for a chance to redeem himself by rescuing Sohrab from Afghanistan.
Soraya’s father and Baba’s friend, a former general in the old pre-soviet regime of Afghanistan, he is a conservative, traditional Afghan man who in the United States collects welfare and refuses to labor beneath his station in America.
A man who drives Amir back to Afghanistan from Pakistan. At first Farid is bitter and sarcastic towards Amir, but when he learns about Sohrab Farid becomes a loyal friend and helps Amir on his journey.
Hassan’s mother and Ali’s wife, Sanaubar had a “dishonourable” reputation as a young woman. She despises Ali and leaves after Hassan is born, but then returns as an older woman to take care of Sohrab.
Soraya’s mother and General Taheri’s wife, a woman who can sing beautifully and likes to complain about her health. She adores Amir after he marries Soraya (whom she had feared would never marry).
Farid’s brother, a man who is very poor and whose children are starving, and who’s hospitality is such that he nonetheless feeds Amir before his own children.
Amir’s mother and Baba’s wife, a college professor of royal blood who dies giving birth to Amir. Amir always believes that his father secretly hates him, at least a bit, for his role in his mother’s death.
One of Assef’s cronies, a boy who is later raped by four men and then dies on the journey to Pakistan.
Assef’s other bullying sidekick, Wali thinks raping Hassan is sinful, but he still helps hold him down.
The woman who nursed both Amir and Hassan
The man who drives Amir and Baba from Kabul to Pakistan.
Hassan’s wife, who has a stillborn baby and then gives birth to Sohrab.
Thomas and Betty Caldwell
An American couple who Rahim Khan says could take care of Sohrabin Peshawar, but who might not actually exist.
The director of the makeshift orphanage in Kabul, who occasionally sells a child to Assefbecause he has no other choice and because the money he makes from the sales helps him to feed the other children.
Amir’s doctor in Peshawar, who Amir thinks of as “Armand.”
An adoption official in the American embassy in Pakistan, who discouragesAmir from trying to adopt Sohrab.
An immigration lawyer who tries to help Amir adopt Sohrab.
The doctor who Baba pays to fix Hassan’s cleft lip.
The cousin of King Nadir Shah, who overthrows the Afghan monarchy in a bloodless coup in 1973.
The last king of Afghanistan, who rules for 40 years.
Mullah Fatiulla Khan
Amir’s religious teacher, who says that drinking alcohol is punishable by damnation.
The new president of Afghanistan after the Americans and their allies drive out the Taliban.
“That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize i have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”
“A boy who won’t stand up for himself becomes a man who can’t stand up to anything.”
“I actually aspired to cowardice, because the alternative, the real reason i was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing was free in this world. Maybe Hassan was the price i had to pay, the lamb i had to slay, to win Baba.”
“My body was broken-just how badly i wouldn’t find out until later-but i felt healed. Healed at last. I laughed.”
an ethnic group from the Hazaajat region in central Afghanistan. Characterized by their mongoloid facial features, adherence to Shi’a Islam, and long history of persecution.
first night of winter, the longest night of the year
a suitor’s official visitation to the family to propose marriage
most powerful ethnic group in Afghans