The Cellist of Sarajevo

The Cellist of Sarajevo Three: Dragan Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
A small group of people gather around Emina, trying to see how badly injured her arm is. Someone hands Dragan Emina’s blue coat as they tie a tourniquet below her shoulder. Emina continues to bleed as more gunfire erupts in the enemy controlled neighborhood Grbavica. Dragan kneels beside Emina, noting that she doesn’t seem to be in much pain. Emina comments that she had wanted to see the cellist play on his last day. A car approaches and the crowd flags it down so it can take Emina to the hospital.
Galloway highlights how common it is for civilians to be injured while simply living their daily lives. When Emina is shot, the community of people on the street does come together to help her, showing small acts of heroism. Meanwhile, even when her life is threatened, Emina cares more about missing the cellist than her safety, showing the importance of art in times of struggle.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Two men load Emina into the car. Dragan wishes he could go with her, but knows that it is not his place. A man who saw the incident assures Dragan that Emina’s wound is as non-threatening as a gunshot wound can be. The car pulls away and Dragan sits behind the boxcar. He finds the bottle of pills that Emina had been delivering in Emina’s coat, then throws the coat on the ground. It has bloodstains now and no one will want it.
Dragan, far from trying to avoid other people, now cares deeply about a woman he once considered a passing acquaintance. Talking with Emina helps re-awaken his desire to connect with others, which he then carries forward by keeping the bottle of pills that still needs to be delivered.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Dragan looks at the body still on the street, again wondering if it is better to be killed or wounded. He decides that what makes the difference is whether he wants to stay in the world he lives in and whether life is worth the fear of death. Surprisingly, Dragan finds that he thinks life is still worth it.
For Dragan the question of being killed or wounded is not an idle concern. Death, or injury that would vastly reduce his quality of life, are constant concerns for Dragan, even though he never wanted to be a part of this war.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
A month ago, Dragan had been forcibly conscripted by an army gang, even though his job at the bakery renders him exempt from the draft. He spends three days digging ditches with no idea how close he is to enemy fire, and with no food. In that pit, Dragan had decided he would rather die than live like this. His boss at the bakery had eventually found Dragan and gotten him released back to the bakery, but by then Dragan had already given up on his life in the city. Now, after seeing Emina, Dragan realizes that the city still holds opportunity for connection.
Dragan would rather die than live as part of the military effort. He values his life as a civilian, something that seemed impossible in the current conditions of Sarajevo. However, Dragan now realizes that he can control his mindset, no matter what is happening in the city around him. Taking inspiration from Emina’s optimism, Dragan hopes to remain a civilized member of society even while it is not functioning correctly.
Themes
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Reality, Image, and Memory Theme Icon
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Dragan wishes that he had rushed into the street to help Emina, but he is also comfortable with his cowardice. He was not built for war and he does not want to be built for war. Dragan thinks about abandoning his trip to the bakery, going home, and trying to do something nice for his brother-in-law. He imagines himself going to the tunnel under the airport and escaping Sarajevo for good. He walks through the trip that would take him to Italy to reunite with his wife and son. It would be wonderful to live with them in a safe city with no one hating them and no one to hate.
Dragan finds comfort in the fact that he is not a hero, preferring to live in a world in which heroism is not necessary because civilized life is functioning in Sarajevo. Dragan dreams of living again in a place where civilization is possible, though he seems unsure whether that will ever happen in Sarajevo again. The small things he can do to improve his life here during the siege feel too unimportant.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
A shell falling interrupts Dragan’s thoughts of escape. He listens to the shells and gunfire, wondering if the men on the hill also want this violence to be over. Dragan has never understood why the men on the hill saw people like him as a threat and he doesn’t see what killing the Sarajevans will accomplish. Dragan realizes that he doesn’t truly want to live in Italy. He wants to be free to live in the Sarajevo of his birth and he must stay here now to keep the hope of returning to that Sarajevo alive.
Dragan feels that he must be loyal to his city, in a way that the men on the hill have not been. In order to live in Sarajevo again, Dragan decides to withstand the long, suffering days of the siege. Staying there through the trouble is how Dragan shows his heroism, even if he never makes grand gestures or helps others.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon