Hassan's father. Ali is a Hazara whom Baba's father took in when his parents were killed. He grew up alongside Baba just as Hassan did alongside Amir. Ali has a crippled leg and paralysis in his lower face muscles and the neighborhood children ridicule him. He is as devoted and loyal as his son. Ali is killed by a land mine when Hassan is already grown.
The story's narrator and protagonist. He is an Afghan man who had a privileged childhood in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul. The defining event in his life is his betrayal of his closest friend, Hassan. Amir lives in San Francisco from the age of eighteen. He returns to Afghanistan at the age of thirty-eight and ends up adopting Hassan's orphaned son, Sohrab.
A sociopath who worships Hitler. As a child, he is the neighborhood bully who rapes Hassan. As an adult, he is a Taliban official who delights in killing people. He keeps Sohrab as a sex slave until Amir comes to rescue him. After he beats Amir nearly to death, Assef loses an eye to Sohrab's slingshot. It is possible that Hosseini based the character of Assef on the reclusive one-eyed Taliban leader, Mullah Omar.
Amir's father. He is a wealthy and well-respected man with a dark secret; he had an affair with Ali's wife and Hassan is his illegitimate son. Baba wishes Amir were braver and stronger and that he could openly express his love for Hassan. Baba dies of terminal cancer in San Francisco shortly after Amir's wedding.
The Afghan man who drives Amir from Peshawar to Kabul and ends up helping him throughout his journey. He was injured fighting against the Soviets and is fiercely proud of his loyalty to Afghanistan. He saves Amir by taking him to a hospital in Pakistan.
Soraya's father. He is a former general who prefers collecting welfare to lowering himself to a blue collar job. He waits every day to be called back to Afghanistan.
Amir's most loyal and devoted servant, who is born with a clept lip. He and Amir were nursed by the same woman and, unbeknownst to them both, they are half-brothers. Hassan is illiterate but smart and stands up for others. He is also the best kite runner in Kabul. He dies at the hands of the Taliban, defending Baba's house from takeover.
Soraya's mother. She is a kind woman who likes to sing, although her husband does not let her. She became a hypochondriac after suffering a stroke and loves Amir all the more for listening to her describe her ailments.
A lawyer who counsels Amir that his best chance is to place Sohrab in an orphanage temporarily. He was raised in America but speaks perfect Farsi.
Baba's closest friend and Amir and Hassan's confidant. He has an uncanny way of knowing what people are thinking and how to speak to them. He is one of the few people who knows Hassan's real identity and about his rape. He encourages Amir to be a writer by giving him a notebook and it is he who summons Amir back to Afghanistan to atone for his and Baba's sins.
The official at the American Embassy who urges Amir to give up trying to rescue Sohrab. Amir thinks he is cruel and does not understand wanting a child until the secretary tells him that Raymond Andrews's daughter committed suicide.
Hassan's mother. She was Ali's notoriously beautiful first cousin and second wife, who ran off with a troupe of dancers. She refused to even hold Hassan when he was born. Years later, she returns to Wazir Akbar Khan to beg forgiveness from Hassan and ends up helping raise Sohrab. She dies peacefully when he is four.
Amir's mother, who died in childbirth. She was a professor of literature at the university and her books inspire Amir to become a writer.
Hassan and Farzana's son. After his parents are murdered, he stays in an orphanage in Karteh-Seh. Then he is a sex slave to Assef until Amir rescues him. Sohrab tries to commit suicide after Amir tells him he may have to stay in an orphanage again. Eventually, Amir and Soraya bring him to America and adopt him.
Amir's wife. She shamed her family as a young woman by running off with a man. She takes care of Baba when he is ill and eagerly accepts Sohrab into her family.
Farid's brother. When Amir stays at his house, Wahid is kind to him and does not judge him for being American. He calls Amir "a true Afghan."
The Kite Runner Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Kite Runner is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Assef is a sociopathic antagonist in the story. He predicts all kinds of dire consequences from abusing Hassan's son Sohrab in the same way he abused Hassan to ethnic cleansing of Hazaras and other unwanted people. Assef is actually a pretty flat...
The primary setting for this story is newly Taliban controlled post-Soviet Union Afghanistan. The theme of cultural identity disrupted by decades of war and conflict plays heavily in this story. A great juxtaposition involves the kite fighting...
The Kite Runner is a novel by Khaled Hosseini. The Kite Runner study guide contains a biography of Khaled Hosseini, 100 quiz questions, a list of major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.