The Cellist of Sarajevo

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

Summary
Analysis
Arrow grabs her rifle and leaves her apartment. Her footsteps echo in the stairwell and Arrow is grateful that she can hear when others are there, even if it exposes her own movement. On the street, Arrow passes an ice cream shop she used to love. Now, there is little she wouldn’t give to have an ice cream. In the Sarajevo Arrow remembers, the street would be abuzz with people going to work and preparing for the day at this time of the morning. Now, Arrow passes few people and she does not meet their eyes.
Arrow struggles between her new role as a weapon – caring only for survival – and her old life in which she could care about simple pleasures like ice cream. She also shows the isolation of living in wartime Sarajevo. The war conditions have stopped all normal activity in the city and greatly reduced normal human interaction.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow arrives at the street corner where the cellist played yesterday and begins to scout out the area. She thinks of all the tiny choices that brought people to buy bread at this specific bakery on that fateful day, choices that mean they are now dead or injured. She ponders whether there are truly any life-defining moments, or if all life is just made up of these tiny choices. Before becoming a sniper, she had assumed that pulling the trigger would be a clear cut moment that defined her life. Now, Arrow thinks that it is another small motion like any other.
The war reorganizes Arrow’s priorities, so much so that even the act of killing another person seems like a necessary choice instead of a huge moral dilemma. Arrow’s status as a weapon stops her from properly feeling the consequences of her actions on herself and others. Her hatred of the men on the hill numbs all her feelings.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow cannot understand why the cellist is doing something so useless as playing. It is possible that the cellist no longer cares about life at all, like so many who walk the streets with no will to survive. Yet the cellist doesn’t appear like these ghosts. Arrow commits herself to keeping the cellist alive, even if she doesn’t understand why he plays.
Even as Arrow does not understand the practical use of the cellist’s music, Galloway still makes it clear that the cellist’s commitment to art in this time of trouble is incredibly important. Art is not useless, even if Arrow is still too damaged to see that.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.
The surrounding buildings have plenty of good sites for a sniper to hide. The best place for a sniper to shoot from is the southwest side of the street, so that the sniper can escape across the river into the enemy controlled neighborhood when he is done. A mission this difficult will require an army trained sniper, however, who will know that the southwest is the most likely place for the Sarajevo militia to expect.
Arrow considers the tactics of her mission, feeling more comfortable with those considerations than the emotional questions of why she is protecting the cellist. Though Arrow is still a “civilian,” at least in name, she has developed the outlook of a veteran soldier through the months of the siege.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Get the entire The Cellist of Sarajevo LitChart as a printable PDF.
The cellist of sarajevo.pdf.medium
Arrow looks east and sees the one place that the sniper would hide. Now she needs to find a place where she can target the sniper without being in an obvious position for a counter sniper. A less skilled sniper would camp out in an apartment building directly above where the cellist plays. Arrow comes up with a plan, selecting a building to the west where she will be able to see the cellist and the potential sniper. She confirms the logistics of his plan, then wonders if the cellist knows that anyone is protecting him at all.
Despite all the care that Arrow puts into her plan to protect the cellist, she does not know if the cellist even knows that she is there. Galloway introduces the possibility that the cellist doesn’t care if she is there–perhaps he cares more about playing music than his physical safety. Even though Arrow’s plan is meant to save the cellist’s life, the cellist perhaps would not support a plan that uses violence.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Hours later, Arrow has set up her position in the southwest building, cutting holes in the plastic covering the window so that she can see the cellist and stretch her rifle just slightly out her window to kill the sniper. In a building to the north, Arrow has set up a decoy sniper camp, with a rifle stretched out of the window to lure the sniper into firing so that Arrow can get a lock on his position. Arrow worries that she has assumed too much about the sniper’s general location, or that other people may live in the decoy apartment.
Though Arrow prides herself on being a weapon, this job protecting the cellist has reminded her of her obligation to care for other people. Whereas she was certain of her plan earlier, doubts have begun to creep in as Arrow considers how her decoy sniper might affect others.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Arrow’s own camp is in an abandoned apartment, which used to be a nice home. Arrow settles in to watch the general atmosphere of the cellist’s street corner, so that she will notice any sudden changes that mark the arrival of the sniper. She has isolated three windows to the east that present the best location for the sniper and she scans them with growing confidence. Out of the corner of her eyes, Arrow sees the cellist leave his building and sit in the center of the street.
The war has turned what used to be a beautiful home into a camp for a sniper. The normal luxuries of civilian life are a distraction for a sniper like Arrow. She tries to care about nothing but her mission and in order to succeed she needs to slip back into the mindset of a weapon instead of caring too much about the cellist on a personal level.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Arrow thinks she sees a shadow of movement in one of the windows to the east. She calms herself, trying not to succumb to the temptation to second guess herself. The cellist begins to play, and Arrow sees a small hole in the plastic of the east window. Arrow could shoot now, but she doesn’t yet know if this is actually the sniper. She is distracted by two teenage girls who have walked up to listen to the cellist. Arrow panics, knowing that the sniper could shoot the girls if she fires at the wrong window too soon.
Arrow’s status as a weapon is threatened by the emotional concerns that the cellist awakens in her. Arrow cannot continue to be a passionless weapon while the cellist plays, showing how music and art connect to the human soul. This is good for Arrow on an emotional level, but it unfortunately distracts from her military concerns.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
The cellist stops playing and Arrow keeps her attention on the east window. The cellist goes back inside and Arrow wonders why the sniper never took his shot. She feels as though she has failed, though the cellist is alive and her mission continues. Arrow thinks back to the teenaged girls, wondering if they hate the men on the hills as much as she does. Arrow hates the men for making her hate them with their violence and killing. Arrow goes down to the street and sees that there is a whole pyre of dried flowers left by the cellist’s stool.
Technically, Arrow has done the correct thing by not shooting the sniper as long as he wasn’t a threat. Yet after so many months committing violent acts, she now feels like a failure if she does not cause death. Arrow’s hatred for the enemy gives her a thirst for violence that supersedes her original desire to protect her city.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.