The Cellist of Sarajevo

The Cellist of Sarajevo Four: Kenan Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Four days after his momentous trip for water, Kenan again wakes early and plans another trip to the brewery. Today is the last day the cellist will be playing and Kenan looks forward to listening again. He worries about the coming winter when firewood will also be a precious resource like water is now. He shaves again by candlelight and looks forward to the day when electricity will not be a rare luxury.
As this book is set in the first year of the siege, Galloway hints at the troubles to come. The situation for civilians will get worse before it gets better, just as Kenan fears. But acts of defiance, such as the cellist’s music, help Kenan keep hope alive through his worry.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
As Kenan leaves the bathroom, the electricity comes on. Kenan happily checks his closet where a car battery is saving up this power so that Kenan’s family can listen to the radio later. Amila gets up from bed, also celebrating the electricity. She teases Kenan that he should pick up the ingredients for a cake while he’s out and Kenan suggests they get brandy as well. The couple embraces for a long moment as Amila tells Kenan to be careful.
Kenan chooses to be resourceful in providing for his family and ensure that there will still be some pleasures in their life. Joking with his wife is another sign that Kenan is refusing to be a “ghost” who is so embittered by suffering that he doesn’t enjoy anything in life.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Kenan kisses his wife goodbye and goes out to the hallway. Again, Kenan does not want to go outside, and does not want to struggle through the streets risking his life for water. But he will go, because this is how he earns the right to help Sarajevo repair itself when the war is over and help his family survive until then. He looks forward to hearing the cellist play again as a reminder of that coming future. Kenan goes to Mrs. Ristovski’s door and knocks, waiting for her to give him her cumbersome bottles to fill at the brewery.
Kenan’s trips to get water are not momentous in the traditional heroic sense. Yet his dedication to his family makes this somewhat mundane task extraordinary. By enduring this time of trial, Kenan looks forward to bringing civilization back to Sarajevo after the war. Until then, he does things like listen to the cellist and help his neighbor so that civilized actions will not disappear from Sarajevo altogether.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
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