The Portrait of Hassan. Butidma Baldanova, 4th year student, BSU, Ulan-Ude

The character that I’m going to analyze is taken from a novel that is entitled «The Kite Runner» by Khaled Hosseini. The character under analyses is Hassan.

The main character Amir introduces Hassan at the beginning of the novel. It’s a boy from his childhood.  He is a son of Ali, who is a servant of Amir’s family. In the childhood they used to play together and be the best friends. In fact, when Amir was 38 years old, he found out that Hassan was his brother. It means that Hassan and Amir have one father – Baba.

Hassan plays a very important role in Amir’s life. He is the reason of Amir’s personal tragedy. Once when they were 12 and 13 years old, Amir betrayed Hassan. He didn’t come to rescue him, when Hassan was saving Amir’s kite. In that moment Hassan was being raped by Assef, and Amir saw it but did nothing. Afterwards Amir felt ashamed and guilty. To run away from those feelings he accused Hassan of stealing his watch. After Ali and Hassan left home Amir had never seen him again, but always thought about him. The greater part of his life Amir was burdened of the sense of guilt.

Khaled Hosseini states that he was partly inspired by his own relationship with Hossein Khan, a Hazara cook that worked for his family, who was from the rugged mountains of central Afghanistan. When Khaled was a young boy, he and Hossein became good friends and while just a third-grader, he taught Hossein Khan how to read and write. Khaled was happy to have helped this man and says that he still thinks of him every time he sees an alphabet book.

Etymologically the nameу «Hassan» means «benefactor, handsome, good». Taking the meaning into consideration we can observe an antithesis, because judging by Amir’s description he was not handsome: he had a harelip and his eyes were too narrow: his almost perfectly round face, a face like a Chinese doll chiseled from hardwood: his flat, broad nose and slanting, narrow eyes like bamboo leaves, eyes that looked, depending on the light, gold, green, even sapphire. I can still see his tiny low-set ears and that pointed stub of a chin, a meaty appendage that looked like it was added as a mere afterthought. And the cleft lip, just left of midline, where the Chinese doll maker’s instrument may have slipped, or perhaps he had simply grown tired and careless. Perhaps by this antithesis the author wanted to emphasize his inner beauty.Hу is a representative of Hazara people; it is a Persian ethnic group that lives in Afghanistan.

Hassan was one year older than Amir. When he was born his mother rejected him. He was raised by his father Ali. Ali loved him very much and taught him everything he knew. Because of his nationality, he was discriminated by Pashtuns and considered to be a servant for his life. He was illiterate. Moreover he realized himself that he was a Hazara and what people thought of such people, and accepted his place in Afghan society, as a servant’s son. Also they belonged to Shi’a muslims which caused conflict, especially in Kabul, where Hassan and his father were abused for being Hazaras. So, his lack of education and social background made him seem lower to those around him. Ali and Hassan lived in a small servants’ home, a modest little mud hut. So, we can see that their lifestyle is a good indicator of their characters, they both are very modest and humble.

To begin with the analyses of his character I’d like to say that first of all Hassan is a static character, because he doesn’t change much throughout the whole story, and his major traits of character remain the same. Also I think that he is a flat character, of course he has a lot of characteristics, but they all are similar. That is he has a leading trait of character that is bent with other ones, and it is devotion.

In the first place, we can see Hassan being very devoted to Amir. The famous phrase For you, a thousand times over expressed by a hyperbole, highlights his devotion very well. He loved Amir very much and considered him to be his only best friend. Even his first word was «Amir». The highest point of his being loyal is that he died standing up against the Taliban, trying to defend Baba’s house.

Secondly, Hassan is brave and courageous. His physical abilities are better than Amir’s ones. He is the best in running, climbing and in shooting with a slingshot. That makes him more confident in struggles with other kids. He always protected Amir, standing in front of him and being hurt by other children. Also he is very hardworking. He helps his father doing his work. He wakes up very early, prepares Amir’s things and bag for school, irons clothes, and makes breakfast and so on.

He is inventive and intelligent. Hassan is seen as humble because whenever he speaks to anyone, he calls them ‘Agha,’ which is a term of respect. Though he is illiterate he strives to learn more. He is eager to learn; afterwards Amir found out that Hassan learned to write and to read. So he wrote a long letter for him. He is quick minded and can think philosophically. Once Amir was astonished by the Hassan’s answer and to reveal his indignation he uses a metaphor converged with rhetorical questions: Taught by Hassan, of all people. Hassan who couldn’t read and had never written a single word in his entire life. A voice, cold and dark, suddenly whispered in my ear: what does he know, that illiterate Hazara? He’ll never be anything but a cook. How dare he criticize you?

Hassan is very kind-hearted, sometimes naive. He was like a happy child, who was not protected and ready for the cruelty of life.  When he was raped Amir saw his eyes and he pictures his condition with the help of the simile It was a look I had seen before. It was the look of the lamb.  His is very kind because he forgives his mother and takes her to live with them. Even years later, after being driven out of the house by Amir and losing his father to a land mine, Hassan writes a letter to Amir filled with warmth. Somehow, Hassan never thinks to have a grudge against Amir. Also he is selfless, honest and sincere. He never tells a lie and speaks out what he thinks. He is a good and responsible father, like Ali. His son Sohrab loves him, because for him he was an ideal man: Every day I thank Allah that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.

He is psychologically a strong person, he is quite independent. He doesn’t complain and doesn’t tell his father about the accident. Already in a week he wants to communicate with Amir again and tries to behave as always.

I think that Amir as a child was jealous to Hassan just because he was better than Amir. If Hassan just could have a chance to learn he would achieve more, he was brighter, stronger. And Amir thought that Baba paid too much attention to a Hazara boy. I think that for Amir it was like a competition, but just created in his own head, and only he knew about it, only he competed in fact against himself. Hassan is a victim of Amir and Baba’s relationships. Baba, who is very ashamed of the fact that he is the biological father of Hassan, keeps this in a secret until his death.  But he somehow loves and often mentiones him in the form of I wish Hassan was here.

Personally, I think that Hassan creates such a big contrast to all characters of the novel. I think he is the only innocent and honest person, who was similar to others. His character makes the reader realize how social injustice and bias can be cruel and can make life more difficult for people just because of their race or upbringing — even when they share your roof.

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