In Chapter 1 of The Kite Runner, the author gives the reader an amazing amount of information, quickly and succinctly. In just three short paragraphs, he establishes the setting, gives an overview of the characters, and introduces the central themes of his story.
Chapter 1, which is told from a vantage point in December 2001, begins with a sentence which takes the reader back to "a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975". The timeframe of the story is thus delineated; the narrator was twelve in 1975, and in that year, something happened which had a pivotal effect on his life. The narrator also mentions that he lives currently in San Francisco, but that he was called back to Pakistan during the past summer. The setting of the story has now been revealed - the story will take place in both Pakistan and the United States, between the years of 1975 and 2001.
The narrator, who will be the central character in the story, reveals himself to be a man haunted by his past. He did something terrible, for which he still carries an enormous burden of guilt, back in 1975 when he was just a boy, and as an adult in middle age, he was offered the chance to make things right. Other characters who will play important roles in the narrative are also introduced. Rahim Khan, the man who calls the narrator back to Pakistan as an adult, will be an important character, as will Hassan, who is described as "the harelipped kite runner" who apparently loved the narrator deeply, and whose love the narrator somehow betrayed. Other characters who are named include Baba and Ali.
It is clear from the first chapter that the narrator will be telling a story whose central themes are failure and second chances, or, more generally, sin and redemption. The narrator is a man who doesn't like himself very much and who is ashamed of "what (he is) today". Something terrible happened in an "alley near (a) frozen creek" many years ago, and the memory of that incident haunts him into adulthood. Then he receives a phone call from his past, offering him "a way to be good again" (Chapter 1).