Hakan can easily be perceived as the worst character in this novel. He is a pedophile and he kills young boys. In the novel, it states
Someone who worked at the post office and who lived in the area had tipped off the other neighbors about what kind of mail, what kind of videos he received. It took about a month before he was fired from his job at the school. You couldn’t have someone like that working with children. […] He hadn’t actually done anything at the school; he wasn’t that stupid. […] In his drunken stupor he became careless, fondled young boys, got beaten up, ended up at the police station. Once he sat in jail for three days and puked his guts out. Was released. Kept drinking. (Page 214-215).
This portrayal of Hakan paints him as one of the worst types of people, a drunken man who steals a child’s innocence.
However, he does have some redeemable qualities. He does not kill anyone until after he meets Eli. In this sense it seems like Eli is the one stealing his innocence, instead of the other way around. He actually seems to be resistant to killing people, only doing it because it is what his beloved needs to survive. In his mind, it seems love triumphs all, even morals.
He doesn’t see Eli as an object to be used sexually (though he does want that), but instead someone to be cherished and loved. He never made Eli do anything that she/he does not want to do. He will take what he can get from her/him, even if it is just laying next to each other.
“Are you . . . hungry?”
Eli turned around again.
“I’ll do it for you. But I want something in return.”
“What is it?”
“One night. All I want is one night.”
“Can I have that?”
“Lie next to you? Touch you?”
“Yes.” (Page 110)
It is interesting that Hakan does not see Eli as he sees other children. He almost looks to her to take care of him, because she got him out of the situation he was in previously; the drunkenness and being taken to the police station.
One evening when Hakan was sitting on a bench next to a playground with a bottle of half-yeasted wine in a plastic bag, Eli came and sat down beside him. In his drunkenness Hakan had almost immediately put a hand on Eli’s thigh. Eli had let it stay there, taking Hakan’s head between her hands, turned it toward her, and said: “You are going to be with me.”
Hakan had mumbled something about how he couldn’t afford such a beauty right now but when his finances allowed . . .
Eli had moved his hand from her thigh, leaned down, and taken his wine bottle, poured it out and said: “You don’t understand. You’re going to stop drinking now. You are going to be with me. You are going to help me. I need you. And I’m going to help you.” Then Eli had held out her hand, Hakan had taken it, and they had walked away together. (Page 215)
It is almost sad to see this, as we know that Eli is manipulating Hakan using his love for her. She/he knows that Hakan will do anything for her and anything to keep her alive, even if it means taking another person’s life. It seems almost tragic because all he wants is for Eli to love him, yet she doesn’t. She/he is everything he wants, yet he cannot fully have that, and it is apparent to him every day. More so when Oskar enters the picture. Is it really so hard to imagine that one would get jealous in this situation? If you take the ages away, you basically have unrequited love and using someone’s feelings to manipulate them.