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Kenan's struggle for survival is something distinctive in the novel's exposition. The idea that he struggles to collect water for his family and his challenging neighbor is reflective of the will to live. It also reveals the level of difficulty within it. Kenan captures this in his depiction of how he lives in the ravages of Sarajevo: “Each time you expose yourself to the dangers of the streets you run the risk of injury or death. But carry too much and you lose the ability to run, duck, drive, anything it takes to get out of dangers way." This quote advances the plot in a couple of ways. The first way it advances the plot is that it establishes the reality of the setting. Kenan looks older than he is because of how he is exposed to death. Death is a constant reality in Sarajevo, a reality that never escapes the characters and drives the structure of the plot. Another way in which the quote advances the plot is that it establishes why the Cellist must play his music. When Kenan hears the song of the Cellist, he is a human being, reminded of the qualities that make life more than mere existence. Kenan hears the music and it is "familiar and full of pride." This helps to accentuate the plot by bringing some humanity to a dehumanizing reality. In this sense, the quote which speaks of the difficulties surrounding life during war reminds Kenan of how there can be more than just merely survival, even in the most challenging conditions. As a result, the plot is advanced.
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