‘Then I have to hear it,’ he said, already pulling the blanket off him.

Amir, as a young boy, has just written a story. His father shows little interest, which Amir takes as yet another sign of his father’s lack of approval. On the other hand, Hassan, always a loyal source of emotional support, is so eager to read Amir’s story that he insists on hearing the story as soon as he learns of it.

‘For you, a thousand times over!’

Amir has just cut the blue kite and won the kite tournament. Hassan’s words, shouted to Amir as Hassan “runs” Amir’s blue kite, reveals Hassan’s unending loyalty and love for Amir. This line, spoken later in the novel by Amir to Hassan’s son Sohrab, represents the durable bonds of loyalty and friendship that exist between Amir and Hassan.

I have told much about you to Farzana jan and Sohrab, about us growing up together and playing games and running in the streets. They laugh at the stories of all the mischief you and I used to cause!

These lines, written by Hassan in a letter to Amir shortly before Hassan’s death, reveal that his devotion to Amir has not been broken by Amir’s betrayal and his absence over the years. Hassan’s connection to Amir is also his connection to innocence, as well as to a time when Kabul was “innocent” and free from war.

Then Hassan did pick up the pomegranate. He walked toward me. He opened it and crushed it against his own forehead. ‘There,’ he croaked, red dripping down his face like blood. ‘Are you satisfied? Do you feel better?’ He turned around and started down the hill.

After the incident in the alley, Amir feels awkward around Hassan. While sitting on a hill together, eating pomegranates, Amir asks what Hassan would do if he threw a pomegranate at him. Hassan says nothing, which irritates Amir. Amir throws a pomegranate at Hassan and demands he fight back, but Hassan still does nothing. Finally, Hassan crushes the pomegranate against his head, revealing he’d rather hurt himself than fight Amir.

‘God help the Hazaras, now, Rahim Khan sahib,’

When the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, everyone is relieved, thinking the fighting will stop. Hassan, however, knows the Taliban does not value life and will bring an even greater terror upon the people of Kabul. Hassan’s words, spoken to Rahim Khan, foreshadow his own death by the hand of the Taliban later in the book. Hassan represents the innocence and goodness of Afghanistan, which the brutal Taliban regime will ultimately snuff out.