Discuss the purpose of starting the novel with a flashback.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The opening of the flashback helps to establish the fact that Amir lives with a past that has found its way into the present and future.  The use of the flashback helps to establish this.  It brings about a sense of depth to the characterization of Amir.  The flashback helps us, as the reader, understand the depth that exists within Amir.  It also helps to bring us a bit closer to a life that is rooted in the past, with flickers and embers lighting in the present.  At the same time, the flashback also helps to bring Amir a bit closer to a life that he, himself, has turned away from.  From a stylistic point of view, Hosseini is able to bring the life of Afghanistan into focus through the opening flashback.  At the same time, it makes for a very smooth transition between modern life and the life that was in the past.  We come to understand that Amir's life in Afghanistan is complex and distinct.  The flashback enables this to be possible.  At the same time, the idea of "becoming good again" lingers in our own mind and is understood when we see the flashback materialize into a story of the past.  In the end, the use of the flashback brings to light that the past is not dead and not really past. It helps to make the Faulkner idea true in that it is not even past.  The flashback brings this theme out into full force.


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