Amir is a fairly soft spoken boy who enjoys literature and poetry. He lives with his successful father, who he wishes to be just like. His mother died from complications during birth. He is also very sensitive as displayed in his reaction to the Buzkashi tournament.
Hassan is the son of Baba's servant, Ali. Hassan is always with Amir, doing what he says and taking the fall if they get caught. He lives with his crippled father since his mother ran away 5 days after Hassan was born.
The book is set in Kabul, Afghanistan during the rise of the communist party. Women are gaining rights, as demonstrated by Amir's mother who taught Farsi literature at a university.