Character Sketches of Amir and Hassan

In the book, The Kite Runner, Hassan is seen to have many different characteristics.  However, Hassan has three major traits that are seen throughout the entire book.  These are: he is brave, humble, kind-hearted, honest and loyal.  These traits help us to understand why the reader admires Hassan throughout the novel.

Hassan is seen as brave when he and Amir are confronted by Assef and his two friends, Wali and Kamal.  Assef is about to fight Amir, when suddenly “Hassan… pulled the wide elastic band [of his slingshot] all the way back.  In the cup was a rock the size of a walnut.  Hassan held the slingshot pointed directly at Assef’s face” (39).  By Hassan doing this, he saves both himself and Amir from being beaten by Assef and his friends.  However, by doing this, Hassan causes the book to unfold as it does, starting with how Assef takes revenge on Hassan.  Another way that Hassan shows he is brave is when Rahim Kahn is talking to Amir later in the book and he is saying that the Taliban went to Amir’s old house after Rahim Kahn left, and it was only Hassan and his family living there, and the Taliban “told Hassan they would be moving on to supposedly keep it safe until I return.  Hassan protested again.  So they took him to the street… and ordered him to kneel… and shot him in the back of the head,” (202).  This shows that Hassan is brave because he died standing up against the Taliban, and knowingly went to his death trying to defend his home.  These proofs make it clear to the reader that Hassan is a brave person throughout his life, even if he is only a Hazara.

Hassan is seen as humble because whenever he speaks to anyone, he calls them ‘Agha,’ which is a term of respect.  Even when he is talking to Assef, he refers to him as ‘Agha’ (39).  This shows that Hassan is very respectful and humble, having grown up as a servant, and always being looked down on.  Hassan also shows he is humble when he and Ali buy Amir ‘Shahnamah’ for his birthday.  When they give the book to Amir, they say, “it’s modest and not worthy of you, Amir agha.  But we hope you like it still,” (96).  This shows that Hassan is humble, because he knows that no matter what he and Ali get for Amir, it will never measure up to what he, being who he is, deserves, even if Amir does not agree with their thoughts.  Through these statements, it is easy to see that Hassan is a very humble, respectful person.

We see that Hassan is kind-hearted when Amir says, “I talked Hassan into firing walnuts with his slingshot at the neighbor’s one-eyed German shepherd.  Hassan never wanted to,” (4).  This shows that Hassan is kind-hearted because he is unwilling to hurt anyone or anything, no matter what they were.  Another time the reader sees that Hassan is kind-hearted is when he takes back his mother, Sanaubar, after all the years she had been away (195).  This shows that Hassan is kind-hearted because even after all the things his mother said about him, Hassan still takes her into his heart as if nothing has happened.  These events show the reader that Hassan is a very kind-hearted boy, even if it can be hard to tell at times.

We see that Hassan is honest when Amir says, “and that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say.  They think everyone else does too,” (51).  This tells us that Hassan is honest, because, as Amir says, he means everything he says.  We also hear that Hassan is honest when Amir says, “this was Hassan’s final sacrifice to me.  If he’d said no, Baba would have believed him because we all knew Hassan never lied,” (98).  This tells us that Hassan is honest because whatever he says, anyone who knows him will believe him, because he does not lie.  These incidents tell the reader that Hassan has a very honest nature, making him believable no matter what.

It is obvious that Hassan is loyal when he and Amir are talking, and Hassan says, “‘I’d sooner eat dirt.’…  ‘Really?  You’d do that?’  ‘Do what?’  ‘Eat dirt if I told you to.’…  ‘If you asked, I would,’ [said Hassan],” (51).  This shows that Hassan is loyal because he says he would be willing to eat dirt for Amir if he asked, showing that his loyalty is limitless, no matter how hard Amir presses Hassan.  Hassan’s loyalty is also seen when Amir frames Hassan for taking his money and watch in order to get rid of Hassan and Ali.  When Amir’s Baba asks Hassan about the money and Hassan says that he stole it.  This shows that Hassan is loyal to Amir because, “Hassan knew.  He knew [Amir had] seen everything in that alley, that [Amir had] stood there and done nothing.  He knew [Amir] had betrayed him and yet he was rescuing [Amir] once again, maybe for the last time,” (98).  Even after everything Amir put Hassan through, and all the things he did to Hassan, Hassan still remained loyal to Amir, lying for him in order to keep Amir out of trouble.  These things show that Hassan has a loyalty to Amir that knows no bounds, and it shows that Hassan would do just about anything in order to help Amir.

Through the characteristics mentioned above, among others, it is easy to see why the reader admires Hassan throughout the novel, due to his courage, modesty, kind-heartedness, honesty and loyalty.

In the book, The Kite Runner, Amir has many characteristics, some positive, some negative.  However, throughout the novel, Amir is mostly portrayed as selfish, sensitive, brave, caring and cowardly.  Although Amir is like this throughout most of the book, by the end, it is evident that he is trying to change himself so he can forgive himself for what he has done.  It is through this that the reader begins to admire Amir, although at the beginning, he may have been disliked.

Amir shows he is selfish when he “took a couple of the envelopes of cash from the pile of gifts and [his] watch… and entered Ali and Hassan’s living quarters… and lifted Hassan’s mattress and planted [his] new watch and a handful of Afghan bills under it,” (97).  Amir does this so that Baba will fire Ali and Hassan, and everyone will be able to move on.  Here, he is thinking only of himself, and not of how it will affect Baba to see Ali and Hassan go, or how much it will hurt Hassan and Ali to have to leave.  The third time that Amir is seen to be selfish is when he goes back to Afghanistan and Rahim asks him to go to Kabul to find Hassan’s son to bring him to an orphanage in Peshawar.  When Rahim asks this of him, Amir says, “why me?  Why can’t you pay someone here to go?  I’ll pay for it if it’s a matter of money,” (204).  When Amir says this, it is obvious he is thinking only of himself and not of what he did to Hassan, or that he is partly responsible for Hassan’s death.  These events show the reader that Amir, although he tries to do better, is very selfish.

Amir is seen to be sensitive when he and Baba go to the yearly Buzkashi tournament, where “one of the chapandaz [a highly skilled horseman] fell off his saddle and was trampled under a score of hooves… [Amir] began to cry.  [He] cried all the way back home,” (20).  This shows Amir to be sensitive, because his father did not get upset at the sight of the death, nor did any of the other men, and yet it deeply upset Amir.  Amir is also seen as sensitive when Baba is talking to Rahim, and he says, “you know what always happens when the neighbourhood boys tease him?  Hassan steps in and fends them off,” (21).  This shows that Amir is sensitive, because he never stands up to anyone, and never fights for himself, but let’s Hassan fight for him.  These incidents show the reader that Amir, though he tries to do better for his father, is very sensitive.

Amir is seen as brave when he is asking Assef for Sohrab, and Assef tells Amir that if he wants the boy, he will have to fight for Sohrab (263).  Although Amir has never gotten into a fight before in his life, he accepts Assef’s terms, and even after Assef breaks his body, he will not beg for mercy.  This shows that Amir is brave because he has never stood up for himself in his life, and he is defending himself now, even though he knows he will most likely die.  Another time that Amir is seen as caring is when the general asks why Amir has brought back Sohrab, and Amir says, “you see, General Sahib, my father slept with his servant’s wife.  She bore him a son named Hassan. Hassan is dead now.  That boy sleeping on the couch is Hassan’s son.  He’s my nephew,” (331).  This shows that Hassan is brave, because for the first time in his life, he is standing up for himself, instead of cowering behind someone else, while they defend him.  These events prove that, although Amir is not brave in the beginning of the book, by the end he is.

Amir shows he is caring when he attempts to get Hassan and Ali fired, because “there would be some pain, but life would move on,” (98).  This shows that Amir is caring, because, although it is horrible of him to try and get Ali and Hassan fired, he does it because he thinks it will be best for all of them if Hassan and Ali leave.  Another time that Amir shows he is caring is when he promises Sohrab that he would “never put [Sohrab] in [an orphanage] again,” (312).  This shows that Amir is caring because, although he almost breaks this promise, he tells Sohrab this in order to help him feel happy and safe, while knowing he may not be able to follow through with his promise.  These events show that, although it is very hard to see, Amir is in fact a very caring person, he just shows it in odd ways.

Amir shows himself to be a coward when he sees Assef raping Hassan and instead of doing something about it, he “ran.  [He] ran because [he] was a coward.  [He] was afraid of Assef and what he would do… [He] was afraid of getting hurt,” (72).  This shows he is a coward, because he will not even stand up for his best friend after all the times Hassan stood up for him.  Also, Amir is seen to be a coward when he and Baba are leaving Afghanistan, and a Russian soldier wants half an hour with the woman in the truck.  Baba starts arguing with the guard, who says he will kill Baba if he does not sit down, so Amir says, “Baba, sit down, please… I think he really means to shoot you,” (108).  This shows that Amir is a coward, because not only will he not stand up for the woman, he is trying to get his father to not stand up for her either.  These incidences show that, although not always, most of the time, Amir is a coward, and will do almost anything to avoid being harmed.

Throughout the novel, Amir is seen as selfish, sensitive, brave, caring and cowardly.  However, nearer to the end, he tries to change these things in order to forgive himself.  It is through this change that it is clear why the reader respects and admires Amir, even if during the rest of the novel he is disliked.

An Entry Done by Ainslie Colterjohn


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