A comparison of the male characters in the three novels reveals similarities between Luke O’Neill in The Thorn Birds, Assef in The Kite Runner, and Rasheed in A Thousand Splendid Suns.
All three men function primarily as the antagonist. Luke has some redeeming qualities, however, while Assef and Rasheed are presented in almost completely negative terms. The male characters who may be considered polar opposites to Luke are Sohrab in The Kite Runner and Tariq in A Thousand Splendid Suns, both of whom have many positive traits.
Luke is a hardworking man but places his ambition over everything else. He is so determined to succeed that he ignores and even abuses his family. He tends to treat Meggie, his wife, more like a servant and insists that she leave the ranch to earn money. Assef as an adult is also ambitious, but in the political realm, as he ascends to leadership in the Taliban. Whereas Luke is thoughtless and selfish, Assef is actually sadistic. Rasheed resembles Luke in his patriarchal attitudes as a domineering husband, but he also displays physical cruelty.
The virtuous, innocent, and kind-hearted male characters of Sohrab and Tariq offer clear contrasts to Luke. Sohrab is an innocent child; his father, Hassan, who is generous and selfless, can also be considered Luke’s opposite. Tariq cares more about his beloved and his family obligations than any personal achievement. As a loyal lover and warm father, he is very different from Luke.