The Cellist of Sarajevo


Steven Galloway

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The Cellist of Sarajevo: Four: Dragan Summary & Analysis

Dragan questions whether the real Sarajevo is the happy, peaceful city of his memories or the violent, conflict and hate-filled place of his present. He’s been waiting at this intersection for two hours now, refusing to decide to go into the street. Dragan wants to believe that Sarajevo will eventually return to the beautiful society that Dragan wishes for. But to do that, Dragan knows he must continue to work to reinstate civilization.
After all of Dragan’s questions about which Sarajevo is “real,” Galloway suggests that the real Sarajevo does not matter as much as the Sarajevans’ vision for their city does. As long as Dragan is working toward a vision of a peaceful Sarajevo, that city has a chance of becoming real.
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The journalist has packed up, trying to find a more exciting intersection to film. Dragan decides that he is going to cross now, no matter who may or may not be watching him. He steps into the street, imagining the sniper aiming at him. His feet refuse to run, so Dragan walks calmly across the intersection, as if he were just going for a stroll. He has never been so afraid, but he realizes that he wants to walk to prove that his city is not a place where he will run like a frightened animal.
Dragan starts to act as though the city were normal, even though it is risky and he is afraid. Galloway portrays this action as quietly heroic, again taking one small step towards a Sarajevo in which walking down the street is once again a completely unremarkable act.
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Dragan waits for a sniper bullet to hit him, but he is not shot. He reaches the other side of the road, accepting that it is impossible to know when one will die. He walks, feeling like any other old man walking down the street, at first toward the bakery. Then Dragan remembers Emina’s pills in his pocket and decides he will deliver the medicine before going to get his bread. Then, Dragan will go to watch the cellist so he can tell Emina what it was like. As Dragan walks, he passes an elderly man and cheerfully wishes him, “good afternoon.”
By delivering the medicine and saying hello to a fellow Sarajevan, Dragan brings to life the ideals of the civilized Sarajevo where he wants to live. Galloway again asserts that it is not necessary to perform grand acts of bravery to improve the world. Dragan’s actions will not end the war, but they will keep the war from extinguishing all hope in the city.
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