How do minor characters play an important role in The Kite Runner?

Minor characters play an important role in reinforcing the novel’s key themes.

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Sanaubar is a very minor character, yet she plays a significant role in reinforcing one of the novel’s key themes that “there is a way to be good again.” She abandons her son Hassan immediately after he is born, but she returns years later and atones for her grievous mistake....

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To redeem herself, she delivers Hassan’s son, Sohrab, and dotes on him until her death. Her actions prepare the reader to observe Amir finding his own path toward redemption after he failed to intervene on Hassan’s behalf on that fateful winter day in the alley.

Rahim Khan is another minor character, though he appears in the novel more than Sanaubar. He performs quite a few functions in the novel, as he provides Amir with a respite from his father’s cruel, distant attitude toward him. Rahim Khan sincerely encourages Amir to pursue fiction writing, which eventually becomes his career. And, crucially, Rahim Khan calls Amir from Afghanistan after Amir has settled into his new life in America, urging him to return to his homeland in order to atone for his sins. Rahim Khan always knew Amir’s deepest sin that he committed against Hassan, and he also knew that Amir suffered physical guilt over it. Rahim Khan orchestrates Amir’s return to Afghanistan so that he can rescue Hassan’s son, Sohrab, from abuse and sexual degradation at the hands of Assef and the Taliban.

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Several of the minor characters are highly important to the plot of the novel.

  • Rahim Khan serves as a confidant and liaison between Baba and Amir during their peaceful times in Kabul. Later, Khan reveals the truth about Hassan's true father (through Hassan's own letters) and serves as the inspiration and impetus for Amir's return to Taliban-held Afghanistan with his promise to Amir that "There is a way to be good again."
  • Sohrab becomes the last remaining link between Hassan and Amir and, in the end, the boy serves as the object of Amir's search for atonement. He avenges his father's death and fulfills a prophecy when he uses his trusty slingshot to blind Assef and save Amir from a fatal beating. He later fulfills the desires of Amir and Soraya to begin a family, serving as both a relation and the son Soraya was unable to bear.
  • Amir could never have survived his journey back to Afghanistan without the loyal Farid, who serves as his driver and advisor.
  • Amir receives valuable background information about his mother through the "improbable coincidence" of meeting Dr. Rasul, a street beggar and former teacher who remembered that Amir's mother loved "Almond cake with hot tea and honey." With that information, "I had just learned more about my mother from this old man on the street than I ever did from Baba."
  • Ali's wife, Sanaubar, serves as a reminder to Amir that even the most undeserving person can change their life and find atonement for their past sins.
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