Hassan and I fed from the same breasts. We took our first steps on the same lawn in the same yard. And, under the same roof, we spoke our first words.

The narrator Amir looks back on his childhood in Afghanistan and recalls the bond he had with another boy, Hassan. Even though at this point in the story Amir believes he and Hassan are not brothers by blood, both grew up under the same roof and they fed from the same breasts, which justifies the bond he feels with Hassan. This quote reveals one of the main themes of the book, the bonds of friendship.

But he’s not my friend! I almost blurted. He’s my servant! Had I really thought that? Of course I hadn’t. I hadn’t. I treated Hassan well, just like a friend, better even, more like a brother. But if so, then why, when Baba’s friends came to visit with their kids, didn’t I ever include Hassan in our games? Why did I play with Hassan only when no one else was around?

Amir’s thoughts serve as an early indication of the complicated nature of his relationship with Hassan. Hassan is a Hazara, a persecuted ethnic group in Afghanistan, and Amir is a Pashtun, a group that had historically suppressed the Hazara. Hassan is living in Amir’s house not only as an illegitimate member of the family, but also as a member of a “lower” ethnic group in Amir’s mind. Amir, as a child, struggles to navigate his feelings of ethnic superiority over the natural bonds of friendship.

I dream that someday you will return to Kabul and revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you.

Hassan sends these words in a letter to Amir, which Amir receives after Hassan has died. Hassan has suffered extreme violence and immeasurable trauma while living in Kabul in the years Amir is gone. Hassan’s message underscores his devoted loyalty to Amir. Even though Amir betrayed him, Hassan still remains his friend. His dream that Amir returns “to the land of our childhood” hints at Hassan’s yearning for both himself and Kabul to return to innocence.