Amir and Hassan
Rather than discussing Amir and Hassan separately, I will analyze them together since their characters complement each other.
From the onset, Amir and Hassan do not share a complete and balanced friendship, as Amir does not behave as a true friend to Hassan. He does not understand why Baba likes Hassan so much, considering he is only a Hazara servant. Also, Amir overhears Baba saying that Amir can not stand up for himself and that Hassan has to protect him. Therefore, Amir feels obliged to prove himself to his father in order to gain his affections.
Amir’s love for Hassan is selfish as he exploits him for his own purposes. For instance, in the kite flying tournament, Amir uses Hassan to run the kite for him. In addition, Amir has too much pride. He does not want to believe that Hassan is a better person than himself. Amir is a wealthy Pashtun, whereas Hassan is a poor Hazara; Amir is educated whereas Hassan isn’t. Yet, Hassan is a true friend to Amir, because he holds no bad intentions or feelings for him. His love for Amir is selfless. He is loyal and honest. So why are they friends?
Amir enjoys the control he has over Hassan, while Hassan has only pure intentions. If it wasn’t for Hassan’s purity, there would be no friendship. Hassan is unaware of Amir’s jealousy and exploitive behaviour, and simply goes on being a friend to him. Moreover, although Amir enjoys having control, there is a part of him that is pure. He is only a child, and thus holds some innocence. This is why at times he treats Hassan as a true friend, such as when he engraves their names on the pomegranate tree. He lies in the middle of the spectrum, between Hassan’s purity, and Assef’s evil. Amir represents a realistic person, such as us, who is flawed.
Assef defines evil as a youth and as a grown man. However, the effects of his evil grew with him. As a teenager, Assef was the neighborhood bully, who would beat up other children. As an adult, Assef’s destruction grew to such an extent that he massacred an entire district of Hazaras, in Mazar-i-Sharif. Instead of being supported by only two, Assef has the Taliban behind him. Moreover, we see that Assef holds on to personal grudges and fulfills his vow to get back at Amir, thereby fighting him.
The knowledge of Sohrab’s imprisonment, in the clutches of the demoralized Taliban immediately sheds light on his living conditions and the toll it’s taking on his young, innocent mind. This is in fact evident when he makes his appearance before Assef and Amir, in decorated attire, suggesting he is more than a servant. Therefore, Sohrab has undergone a loss of innocence, just like his father Hassan. Also, he shows a similarity to his father when he stands up to Assef, for the safety of Amir, and shoots a metal ball into Assef’s left eye. Unfortunately, Sohrab’s suffering under Assef has caused him to recede into such a depression, that he converses very little, even when Amir offers his friendship.