Amir adapts best to the political turmoil that changes the lives of the characters in the novel. Though Amir and Baba are forced to flee the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, Amir finds life in America a happy one. He learns a new language, graduates from high school and college, lives out his dream to become a writer, and falls in love and marries. Additionally, he distances himself from the guilt that he feels from his betrayal of Hassan, though it still follows him in America, causing him nightmares and insomnia. For Amir, America is a land of opportunity and
... a place to bury my memories. (Chapter Eleven)
Baba, meanwhile, leaves his fortune behind in Kabul after escaping from the Russians, and though he is in the land that he so admires, he is reduced to the life of a laborer, working long hours in a gas station to make ends meet for him and his son. He is never able to adapt to the new lifestyle: He "loathed" the President, Jimmy Carter, but fell in love with Ronald Reagan, who proclaimed "the Shorawi 'the Evil Empire.' " "Baba loved the idea of America," but unlike Amir, it was "a place to mourn his" memories.
Hassan actually benefits from the Russian occupation, and the Hazaras find peace for a short time until the Taliban gain control. Life becomes worse than ever, and people like Assef actually took pleasure in the slaughter of the Hazaras. According to Assef,
"Afghanistan is like a beautiful mansion littered with garbage, and someone has to take out the garbage...
Ethnic cleansing... I like the sound of it. (Chapter Twenty-Two)
Rahim Khan had kept a much lower profile while Baba lived in Kabul, and he had taken over Baba's home--"Baba had 'sold' the house to Rahim Khan"--believing that "Afghanistan's problems were only a temporary interruption of our way of life." He had actually celebrated when the Taliban "rolled in and kicked the Alliance out of Kabul," believing them to be "heroes." But when the Taliban killed Hassan and Farzana while Rahim was away and took over Baba's house, Rahim fled to the safety of Pakistan.
"Yes, hope is a strange thing. Peace at last. But at what cost?" (Chapter Fifteen)