The Portrait of Hassan. Alexandra Gombodorzhieva, 4th year student, BSU, Ulan-Ude

Hassan is the central characters of the novel The Kite Runner. Hassan is a prototype of Hossein Khan, a servant of the author when his family lived in Iran. The relationship with Hossein Khan inspired the author to write the novel.

I think that Hassan sounds like Hossein, that’s why the author chose this name. The name Hassan in Arabic means ‘handsome’, ‘good’ or ‘benefactor’. This name suits the character perfectly, because he is an absolutely positive character. Hassan belongs to the Hazara ethnic group of Afganistan. It is widely believed that Hazara have Mongolian ancestry. Hazara people believe in Shia Islam.

Hassan is a static and flat character. The author describes Hassan’s appearance in great detail, using similes, linking repetitions.  He had perfectly round face, face like a Chinese doll, flat, broad nose and slanting narrow eyes like bamboo leaves, eyes that looked depending on the light, gold, green, even sapphire. His ears were low set and chin was pointed. The disguising feature of Hassan’s face was a hare lip. The author uses an extended metaphor continuing to compare him with a Chinese doll: 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.

Hassan lived in a mud shack: It was spare, clean, dimly lit by a pair of kerosene lamps. There were two mattresses on opposite sides of the room, a worn Herati rug with frayed edges in between, a three-legged stool, and a wooden table in the corner where Hassan did his drawings. The walls stood bare, save for a single tapestry with sewn-in beads forming the words Allah-u-akbar. Judging by the description, its owner was modest, religious and neat. His hobby was drawing.

His father Ali brought him up and taught him to be a good servant. Hassan was an obedient servant and a devoted friend. He did for Amir everything he asked. He often said: For you, a thousand times over. He proved his devotion when he protected Amir from Assef, and in the incident after the kite tournament. Thus, we can see that Hassan sacrificed his body and dignity for the sake of Amir.

Another distinguishing feature of Hassan is that he always had a slingshot at hand and shot with it very well. It is a symbol of protection of Amir.

In childhood Hassan could not read, but he liked to listen to fairytales very much. He was strongly influenced by them and that is why he named his son by the name of a fairytale’s hero Sohrab. When he got older he learnt to read and to write. And he was happy that he could write a letter to Amir. In this letter he said that he worried a lot about Rahim Khan, because he was sick. That characterizes him as a caring and sympathizing person.

Moreover, Hassan is a family man and a loving father. He wished his son all the best and wanted him to be an educated person.

To sum up, Hassan was a modest, well brought up person and a devoted friend. He knew what was bad and what was good and behaved accordingly.  As far as I see, the novel was devoted to Hossein (a prototype of Hassan) in order to show the respect and gratefulness to him for what he had done to the author.

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