Amir is the narrator and protagonist of the novel and is a Pashtun and Sunni Muslim. Although not a completely sympathetic character, Amir is one for whom most readers feel compassion. Amir has conflicted feelings about his father, Baba, and his playmate, Hassan. Often, Amir is jealous of the way Baba treats Hassan, although Amir realizes that Hassan socially has a lower place in society. A conflicted character, Amir struggles between the logical and emotional sides of his being. His obsession and guilty conscience, along with his adult perspective looking back on childhood events, render him a usually reliable — yet simultaneously potentially suspect — storyteller.
Baba is Amir's father, who is considered a hero and leader in Kabul. Baba and Amir never quite seem to connect, especially in Afghanistan. Baba is always doing things for others and always seems to expect more from his son. Baba appears to exemplify a man who lives by his own moral code, yet he is carrying a secret that if revealed, may undermine everything he stands for.
Hassan is Amir's playmate and servant and is a Hazara and Shi'a Muslim. He's also the son of Ali. Hassan considers Amir his friend, although Amir never consciously considers Hassan as such. Hassan epitomizes the perfect servant who is loyal to his master, even after the master betrays him. Many critics consider Hassan's character "too good to be true," for even after he is betrayed by Amir, Hassan continues to lie for the person he considers his friend.
Rahim Khan is Baba's best friend and business partner. He's also the father-figure to Amir. Rahim Khan encourages Amir's writing, takes care of Baba's house, brings Hassan back to Kabul, and brings Amir back to Afghanistan. Rahim Khan also shares Baba's deepest secret with Amir.
Assef is a Kabul bully who ends up joining the Taliban. Not only is Assef a villain, but he also symbolizes all villainy. Assef becomes a member of the Taliban who idolizes Adolf Hitler and abuses his position of power in order to demonstrate the political muscle of the men in charge. Even as an adult, Assef uses a pair of brass knuckles to demonstrate both his power and cruelty.
Soraya is Amir's wife. Unable to have children of her own, Soraya willingly agrees to the adoption of Sohrab. Although her role, like the role of all Afghan women under the Taliban, is minor from a plot perspective, the importance that she has on Amir's character development is immense.