What is the significance of the opening scene in "The Kite Runner"?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The central character, Amir, gets right to the heart of the matter in the opening scene in "The Kite Runner". He describes his memory of "crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek". The scene he is remembering is where the defining moment of his life took place. It was in that alley that his loyal childhood friend Hassan was viciously raped while trying to retrieve a kite for Amir's benefit. Amir, a witness to the atrocity, kept himself hidden, and allowed his friend to be victimized without coming to his aid. That moment "changed everything" in Amir's life, and "made (him) what (he) (is) today" - a man who sees himself as being without courage or integrity, a man without honor who would heartlessly betray a friend.

Everything that happens in the narrative is connected to the opening scene described. Amir cannot forget what he did there, and because his sin is hidden, his whole life after that incident is a lie. The phone call he receives from Rahim Khan offers Amir a chance to atone for his transgression, and sets the stage for the central theme of the book. Amir is offered an opportunity for redemption; "a way to be good again" (Chapter 1).

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