The Cellist of Sarajevo

The Cellist of Sarajevo Three: Arrow (Part 2) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Colonel Karaman’s soldiers take Arrow to the old Parliament Building, which has been completely gutted and bombed by the men on the hill. Its bones are still standing, and it offers a good view of all the enemy occupied territory from its upper floors. The three soldiers hand Arrow off to another soldier in the lobby, who introduces himself as Hasan. Arrow finds Hasan strangely friendly. Hasan congratulates Arrow on her skillful reputation and takes her up to the 14th floor.
Hasan seems cheerful and unscathed by the war, an impression that unnerves Arrow because she knows that everyone in Sarajevo has suffered. Like the parliament building, in which the lobby is intact but the upper floors are a wreck, Hasan is hiding how damaged he truly is. His compliments for Arrow’s skill show that he respects Arrow’s ability to murder and wound.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
The 14th floor of the Parliament Building is a mess of broken glass and debris as the wind blows freely through gaping holes in the walls. Hasan jokes about “going hunting,” but Arrow doesn’t respond. Hasan explains that Arrow’s assignment is to shoot whomever Hasan chooses. Arrow is irritated that she has ended up in this situation with no options.
Hasan’s jokes “other” the men on the hill by treating them as if they are animals to be hunted instead of human beings. Arrow again feels that all the things she has done out of hatred for the enemy are now curtailing her freedom.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Arrow sets up her rifle in a covered position, ignoring Hasan’s order to shoot from the gaping hole in the wall. Hasan pulls out binoculars and starts scoping out Grbavica. The neighborhood is a wasteland, with little that has not been shot, set on fire, or destroyed. Hasan comments that he used to live in one of the buildings on the front lines, frankly explaining that his whole family is probably dead. Arrow sadly adds that her father is dead, as well, and Hasan angrily suggests that they should make “them” pay for all these wounds.
Hasan is not as skilled a weapon as Arrow, both in terms of practical logistics and in his emotional charge against the men on the hill. Where Arrow is uncomfortable with the role hatred plays in her choices, Hasan is unabashedly motivated by hatred. He has let his grief turn into a poisonous hatred that promises to harm both the men on the hill and himself.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Arrow is uncomfortable with Hasan’s intense need for revenge. She turns her attention back to the streets of Grbavica, looking for anyone who might be a soldier. It is hard to tell when neither army regularly wears uniforms. Arrow has learned to identify people by the way they walk, and wonders if Hasan can do the same. Now that her rifle is dedicated to Hasan’s choice, she hopes he will choose well.
Arrow still clings to her rule not to harm “innocent” people. She believes that by only killing soldiers she can escape the guilt of being a true murderer. By deferring her choice to Hasan, who is a true member of the army, Arrow again avoids the blame for her actions.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
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Hasan nudges Arrow and points out a target. Arrow looks where he indicates, seeing only a civilian man creeping around a building. Arrow argues, pointing out a soldier who has just moved into view, but Hasan insists that Arrow shoot the civilian man. Arrow again refuses to kill an unarmed civilian. Hasan tries to convince Arrow that no one in Grbavica can be innocent and that all the people there are rabid animals who deserve to die. Arrow again argues that the other side still has some good people.
In modern war, killing civilians is a far higher crime than killing military forces. Yet the lines in Sarjaevo have become blurred, as “civilians” like Arrow work for the military and civilians in the street are thought to support the enemy forces. Hasan again compares the men on the hill to animals, refusing to respect their humanity. This both feeds his hatred and cheapens his own humanity.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.
Hasan restates that a war can only have two sides and that Arrow must shoot. Arrow lifts her rifle and pinpoints the civilian man. She wonders if she could have done anything else these past months with the men on the hill doing so much to make her hate them. She hopes other people in Sarajevo have been able to resist that temptation, but she considers it too late for herself. But when she takes her final aim Arrow remembers the cellist’s music in her head and knows she will not shoot.
In direct opposition to Hasan’s statement about two sides in war, Galloway’s novel explicitly examines the ambiguity of war. Arrow’s growing discomfort with her hatred shows that there are ways to react to violence other than with hatred, even if Arrow cannot think of them. In the midst of her moral struggle, the cellist’s music helps her choose the right path. Again, Galloway positions art, culture and civilization against any acts of war.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow gets up and picks up her gun. Hasan warns her that leaving now will make her a defector, but Arrow decides to take that risk. Hasan does not follow her as Arrow makes her way down the fourteen flights of stairs. Outside the Parliament Building, Arrow sneaks past the guards onto the streets and runs away.
Arrow finally takes responsibility for her own actions. She chooses to be a defector, like Nermin, and accepts the danger that might bring, rather than continuing to be a part of violence that she no longer condones.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon