The Cellist of Sarajevo

The Cellist of Sarajevo Three: Arrow Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In Nermin’s office, Arrow waits alone. Nermin finally comes in and Arrow announces that “he’s dead.” Nermin isn’t sure whether Arrow is talking about the cellist or the sniper. Arrow flatly clarifies that it is the sniper, trying not to let herself feel any emotion at all. Nermin notices Arrow’s discomfort and Arrow explains that she shot the sniper while the sniper was listening to the cellist’s music. Nermin nods, then tells Arrow it is time for her to disappear before the Sarajevo militia forces her to break her oath not to kill innocent people.
For Arrow, disconnected from human society, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the cellist or the sniper died. Galloway points out that the damage of violence and hatred is the same on both sides – whether the dead man is a soldier whom Arrow thought deserved to die or the cellist that Arrow was supposed to protect. Nermin sees that Arrow is close to crossing a moral line and he hopes that she can stay a civilian throughout this conflict.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow is confused, unsure if it is even possible to disappear in a city surrounded by the men on the hill. Nermin continues, explaining that the men on the hill are not the only ones who are destroying Sarajevo. People within the defense are also creating a Sarajevo that condones evil rather than opposing it. Nermin is going to be relieved of his command soon, because he hasn’t wanted to join the militia’s corrupt deals. Nermin apologizes for turning Arrow into a soldier against her father’s wishes. Arrow tells Nermin she forgives him and leaves Nermin’s office.
Galloway emphasizes that defending Sarajevo means opposing hatred, not simply fighting against the men on the hill. The defense, in order to truly save Sarajevo, must resist falling into the hatred that started this conflict. Nermin defends this principle at immense cost to himself, showing how a person can be a hero without action on the battlefield.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Arrow walks into the street, wondering if she is still one of the good people because she kills the men on the hill out of hatred. She worries about Nermin, knowing that he will have few options and little safety if he is relieved of his command. When Arrow has walked three blocks, she hears shelling. Other people in the street rush to get to cellars and basements, but Arrow does not hurry. She no longer hides in the basement during shelling, preferring to stay in her bed rather than letting the men on the hill force her into hiding.
Arrow begins to reconsider her role in the war after finding out about Nermin’s intense dedication to his principles. Arrow had thought that she was being a hero for the city by acting as a sniper, but she now wonders whether this violence is doing anything good for the city. Arrow sees herself as being just as dedicated to freedom as Nermin in her refusal to let the men on the hill dictate when she is afraid, but she doesn’t understand that she is letting the men on the hill dictate her hatred.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
A boy runs frantically past Arrow and Arrow recognizes him as an assistant in Nermin’s building. Arrow realizes that this boy is afraid of more than just the shelling, and she stops and turns back toward Nermin’s office. She runs back just in time to see Nermin’s building explode. Arrow falls to her stomach, watching through the scope of her rifle as the fire brigade appears and tames the blaze of the building. They put out the fire and find no survivors. The firemen chatter about how lucky it was that this shell fell after hours, but Arrow knows that this explosion came from inside. Arrow lingers by the building for hours, hoping that Nermin escaped somehow. When two soldiers carry a body out of the building, Arrow goes home.
It is unclear whether Nermin was part of the plan to bomb his office, or if this was done in retaliation for the advice Nermin had given against the army’s current path. Either way, Nermin sacrificed himself for the ideals of a civilized Sarajevo. Rather than participate in a war that he no longer agrees with, Nermin chooses to die. He would rather live in a society that fights for the ideals of peace and tolerance than win a war based on hatred, selfishness, and force.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Get the entire The Cellist of Sarajevo LitChart as a printable PDF.
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The shelling continues all night. Arrow listens to it from her bed, wondering if tonight’s damage will even be noticeable in the rubble already covering the city. She thinks she should be more upset about Nermin’s death, but she feels little about anything. She shivers in the cold, hungry after another night of eating rice. She could trade the cigarettes the army gives her for more food, but she can’t be bothered.
Arrow has compartmentalized herself so much that she cannot even grieve for a man who acted as a mentor and father figure. Her time as a weapon of the Sarajevo Defense Corps has hurt her deeply, so that her emotional state mirrors the rubble of the city.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Arrow realizes that her stash of cigarettes could be enough to buy her a pass through the tunnel, but she doesn’t really want to leave Sarajevo or the girl she used to be when this city lived in peace. Furthermore, Arrow realizes that she still wants to protect the cellist. She falls asleep.
The one thing that Arrow still cares about is the cellist, again emphasizing how important the beauty of art is to the Sarajevans suffering in the siege. To get back to happiness, Arrow must fight for the culture she once loved.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow is woken by the sound of soldier boots outside her door. She gets out of bed quietly and puts a revolver in her coat pocket. Arrow opens her door to find three men carrying guns, one of them in army fatigues. The men ask if she is Arrow, while Arrow contemplates whether to shoot them or not. The men order Arrow to come with them. Arrow refuses, but the men shift their hands to their guns. Arrow can see that they are afraid of her and is momentarily pleased. But then she realizes she does not want anyone to fear her and goes with the soldiers, who explain that they are taking her to Colonel Karaman.
After months of honing her skills as a weapon, Arrow now receives the respect and awe that she thought she wanted. But instead of feeling satisfied, she is upset that people fear her. Arrow is beginning to understand that being a military hero comes with a price – human interaction. Her first response now is to shoot people, as she loses the ability to trust others.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
The men take Arrow to a small café where Colonel Edin Karaman is waiting. Colonel asks Arrow her real name, but Arrow refuses to tell him. The Colonel shrugs, telling Arrow that Nermin has been killed and she is now assigned to the colonel’s unit. Arrow insists that she must keep protecting the cellist, but Karaman explains that there are better uses for Arrow’s talents and that a man waiting outside will tell Arrow of her new orders. Arrow explains that she has always chosen her own targets. Karaman laughs, explaining that Arrow will now do whatever he tells her to in order to protect the city.
Arrow refuses to tell Colonel Karaman her real name, continuing to keep her real identity separate from the work she is doing for the army. Her services for Karaman are a duty based on her months as a weapon, though Arrow would rather follow her heart and protect the cellist.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow stands up to leave, wondering what her father would do. Karaman calls after her, reminding Arrow that the war has separated the city into us and them. Anyone who is not with the Sarajevo militia is against it. Arrow picks up her rifle, realizing that the choices she has made so far have given her little choice about what to do now.
Karaman chooses to see the men on the hill as the “other,” rejecting any possibility of shared humanity or peaceful resolution to the war. Arrow believes that her time spent hating the men on the hill now condemns her to continue to choose sides.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon