What led to the first confrontation between Amir and Assef in The Kite Runner?
I've always been curious about the signifance behind Amir's first confrontation with Assef. I know that it is the event that led to Hassan's assault later in the book, but... On page 19, Amir stated, "It also occurred to me how lucky I was to have Baba as my father, the sole reason, I believe, Assef had mostly refrained from harrassing me too much." However, during that confrontation, Assef said that Amir was actually bothering him more than Hassan--even being a Hazara--was. Then, he, without any particular worries or hesitation, lunged to pummel Amir with his brass knuckles. Why is it that Assef, who was said to have refrained from bullying Amir, now mocked, threatened, and even attempt to harm Amir?
Since this occurred on the same day that Daoud Khan overthrew Zahir Shah as monarch, I have a feeling it had to do something with that. I mean, a first-time direct confrontation with Assef on the same day is kind of suspicious for just a coincidence... Someone told me that it was because Baba had a good relationship with the royal family of the monarchy and, because of the realtionship, people were afraid of Baba. But now, with the monarchy overthrown, people weren't afraid of Baba anymore. Likewise, Assef wasn't afraid of beating up Amir anymore. I do recall that it was kind of implied that Baba was on good terms with the royal family, since Amir's grandfather had a personal picture with Nadir Shah, and Baba himself had a picture shaking hands with Zahir Shah.
I think you have a pretty firm understanding of why Assef chose to assault Amir on this particular day. Assef had held off attacking Amir and Hassan since Baba and Assef's father, Mahmood, were friends. I'm not sure that Assef worried about Baba's power and influence before the beginning of the Russian takeover, but Assef must have worried that his father would not approve of his son bullying Amir. Whether Assef decided himself that the fall of Zahir Shah provided him with the right opportunity, or whether Mahmood may have put the idea in his head is uncertain; it does seem more than just a coincidence that the fall of the Shah, with whom Baba must have been friendly, occurred just one day before. Of course, Assef's father maintained good relations with Baba afterward, since the family later attended Amir's birthday party. But Assef must have seen the country's change in leadership as a good time for him to harass the two boys: Hassan, because he hated Hazaras; and Amir, because Assef hated him for associating with Hassan.