In Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Kamal is one of two cowardly, obsequious “lieutenants” to Assef, a sadistic bully who torments weaker boys, and who rapes Hassan while Amir looks on helplessly – or, alternatively, uselessly. Hosseini describes Assef and his two weaker “friends,” Kamal and Wali as follows:
“Born to a German mother and Afghan father, the blond, blue-eyed Assef towered over the other kids. His well-earned reputation for savagery preceded him on the streets. Flanked by his obeying friends, he walked the neighborhood like a Khan strolling through his land with his eager-to-please entourage.”
As Assef walks the streets, bullying others, Wali and Kamal ritualistically agree with his every utterance, no matter how banal or cruel, with numerous descriptions of Assef’s actions punctuated with statements like this: “Wali and Kamal nodded and grunted in agreement.”
As the situation in Afghanistan turns for the worse, however, even Assef’s fortunes are degraded, exemplified in the following passage:
“Assef’s mouth twitched. Wali and Kamal watched this exchange with something akin to fascination. Someone had challenged their god.”
Kamal, however, will emerge more visibly as the feeble, pathetic person he is, ultimately dying of asphyxiation, which so saddens his father that he commits suicide. Kamal, in short, is a minor character, but one whose decline and eventual death lends this story an added poignancy.