The Cellist of Sarajevo

The Cellist of Sarajevo Two: Arrow (Part 3) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Arrow gets little rest that night, going over what happened with the cellist. She can’t understand why the sniper wouldn’t shoot when he had a clear shot. At 9 the next morning, she goes back to where the cellist plays and sits in front of the flower memorial. She thinks about the most recent funeral she attended, for an old neighbor. When the war first started, she used to go to all the funerals for the people she knew, but she has been going to fewer and fewer lately. She finds that the intense grief of others just makes her angry when she has become so numb to everything.
Arrow is so focused on killing the sniper that she cannot fathom what might distract the sniper from his own mission. Rather than being happy that the cellist is still alive and safe, Arrow is upset that she doesn’t understand what is happening. Arrow has even lost the ability to mourn the dead in her frenzy to harm the men on the hill as much as possible.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Arrow went to her neighbor’s funeral because she had liked him before the war. He had been an interesting man who told Arrow about bugs when she was a child and played football with the neighborhood kids in the street. Her neighbor’s wife invited her to the funeral, at the old football arena. At first, Arrow was glad to mourn this man with his family, but as the service continued she started to feel rage again.
Arrow has become so hurt that the only outlet for her feelings is rage. Using that anger and hatred to mask her grief hurts less than truly processing her emotions about all the terrible things that have happened since the beginning of the siege.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Arrow noticed another man at the funeral, still fat despite the lack of food in the city, just before the whistle of shells forced everyone to the ground. Arrow lay on her stomach until the shelling stopped, then looked up to see that all the mourners except the fat man were gone. She wondered if the men on the hill had found some new way to make people disappear, then she saw people crawling out of the freshly dug grave. Arrow asked the fat man why he didn’t hide in the grave. The fat man answered that he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get back out. Arrow laughed at this, secretly thinking that she did not go into the grave because she didn’t want the men on the hill to dictate when she went below ground.
Arrow seems disgusted with the fat man, seeing him as a weak liability who is unable to fight or protect himself in this crisis. The Sarajevans at the funeral are symbolically forced into graves, showing how all the civilians of Sarajevo are just walking dead in the eyes of the men on the hill. Though both the fat man and Arrow refuse to hide in graves during the mortar attack, Arrow sees herself as a hero who is choosing her own destiny and the fat man as a laughable remnant of a time when luxuries like eating were allowed.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Arrow snaps out of her thoughts, unsure why she is thinking about this funeral. She shakes it off, focusing on her mission to protect the cellist. She looks up at the window where she thinks the sniper was, then looks at her own hiding spot and the decoy window she set up. Suddenly, her body goes cold and Arrow realizes the sniper must be watching her. She has no idea where the sniper is, and no way to do anything about it. She hopes the sniper thinks she is just another Sarajevan who likes the cellist, then worries that looking up at the windows has tipped the sniper off to her plan. She walks away, trying her best to look nonchalant.
Arrow feels that thinking about the funeral compromised her ability to focus solely on the mission at hand. Her emotional memory causes her to make the mistake of giving away her decoy apartment. Arrow still sees emotion as a weakness that a weapon like herself cannot afford.
Themes
Hatred and the Other 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 goes to get her rifle, then camps out in her chosen apartment. She didn’t report to Nermin last night, and she worries about what Nermin will do if she doesn’t kill the sniper today. Shortly before 4 o’clock, Arrow turns her attention to the sniper’s window. She is confident that she can kill the sniper easily today. The cellist goes into the street, sits, and begins to play. After five minutes of music, the sniper still has not moved. Arrow still doesn’t understand why the sniper isn’t shooting, but she feels too far in to change her plan now.
Arrow again forgets that her mission is simply to protect the cellist, not to actively kill the enemy sniper. Nermin wants her to do what is best for the cellist, while Arrow’s hatred for the men on the hill tells her that she must seek violence against her enemies. The sniper is still not a threat however, and Arrow is not yet comfortable enough to shoot a man she feels is innocent.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
A movement in the decoy apartment distracts Arrow, but she shakes it off and refocuses on the sniper window. Then she suddenly realizes that the gun in the decoy window is not the rifle that she set up. She slams herself to the ground before the sniper sends a bullet into her window. She lays there, waiting to hear the second shot that will kill the cellist, but the music continues uninterrupted. The cellist plays until he is finished with the Adagio, not even seeming to notice that a gun went off a few feet above him. The cellist packs up and goes inside his apartment building, as Arrow stays still – hoping to convince the sniper that she is dead.
The sniper preys on Arrow’s weaknesses, using her overconfidence in anticipating the sniper’s next move against her. Thinking like a weapon has convinced Arrow that the men on the hill care only for violence. Yet the sniper seems unwilling to hurt the cellist while the cellist is playing such beautiful music. The cellist pays no attention to the shot that could have ended his life, prioritizing the music above everything.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
That night, Arrow goes to report to Nermin. He suspects that the sniper was waiting to see if he had really killed Arrow before shooting the cellist. Arrow is not so sure, but she stays silent as Nermin explains that they will post a soldier in Arrow’s hiding spot in case the sniper goes to check for Arrow’s body. Nermin then tells Arrow that his promise to let Arrow remain a free agent may become more difficult to keep.
Arrow’s status as an unofficial member of the army is in jeopardy, as she may soon become an official part of the army with no hope for retaining her moral code.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Arrow knows that the Sarajevo militia is struggling between a faction that wants to save the city at all costs and a faction that wants to stay civilized in their fight. The wildcard in all this is the criminals, who were invaluable when the war first started because they had fighting experience. Now the criminals are uncontrollable, trying to make a profit off the war and refusing to give up the power the army initially gave them.
For Galloway, saving Sarajevo means more than killing all the enemies or protecting the buildings. Through Arrow, Galloway suggests that some in the Sarajevo Defense Corps have forgotten their true goal – restoring Sarajevo to peace – and have been consumed by the desire to “win” the war by any means necessary.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Arrow wants Sarajevo to remain worth saving, and she wants to help the defenders remember what is worth fighting for, but she sees that Nermin is in a difficult position keeping her away from the traditional army forces. Nermin dismisses her, telling her to worry about nothing but her mission with the cellist.
Arrow is still half a civilian, allowing her the freedom to consider whether the military is actually doing the right thing. This mission with the cellist reminds Arrow that Sarajevo is more than the military efforts.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
The next morning, Arrow stays hidden in her apartment near the cellist so she will not ruin the illusion that she is dead. She hopes that the sniper will not expect her to return to a place where she was found and shot at. Her one change is that she has switched windows, finding a better spot in the master bedroom where the windowsill is cracked enough for her rifle to fit through. Now she won’t have to cut a hole in the plastic and reveal her position.
Arrow’s metaphorical death calls back to her use of a nickname to separate her pre-war and post-war identities. Now that the old Arrow is dead, Arrow can go even farther in her mission to kill the sniper without being encumbered by her old moral doubts.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
The day passes slowly, and Arrow thinks about all the men on the hill she isn’t killing because she is protecting the cellist. She wonders if the men on the hill hate her, or simply hate anything that is different from them. She wishes they could all return to a Sarajevo where no one was hated or thought inferior for their ethnicity. She only excuses her own hatred because she thinks she hates the men on the hill for their actions—but more and more she realizes that she hates all the men on the hill as a group.
Rather than focusing on the good she is doing for the morale of the city by allowing the cellist to play safely, Arrow would prefer to act out her hatred of the enemy through active violence. She still blames her hatred on the men on the hill, not seeing that it is her choice to react with hatred and that the act of hating other people is damaging to herself.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.
At four o’clock, the cellist comes out and the sniper shows himself immediately in a window across the street. Arrow puts the sniper in her sights, then waits when she sees that the sniper doesn’t even have a finger on his trigger. Arrow wonders if the sniper is listening to the music for some odd reason. Arrow listens to the music as well, promising herself that she will shoot if the sniper moves at all. Yet the sniper stays motionless, listening to the cellist’s sad piece with his eyes closed. Arrow knows the sniper has probably killed before, and therefore deserves to die, but she can’t bring herself to shoot while the sniper is not threatening the cellist.
Arrow has forgotten that the men on the hill are also human, so she considers them incapable of appreciating civilized or beautiful things. As she herself listens to the music, she considers what marks someone as “deserving to die.” By Arrow’s own metric, she also deserves to die because she has killed many people. While before Arrow saw her violence as righteous because it was in reaction to the violence of the men on the hill, this mission with the cellist reminds her that all violence is fundamentally against the values of civilization.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.
As the cellist’s piece ends, the sniper smiles and opens his eyes. Arrow shoots, hitting the sniper directly between the eyes. The sniper falls and Arrow watches the cellist pack up his instrument. She desperately wants the cellist to turn toward her, acknowledge her in any way. But the cellist simply disappears into his building without glancing up at all.
Arrow chooses to perpetuate violence even though the sniper was not going to shoot. She hopes that the cellist will approve of her actions, but the cellist’s refusal to look up shows that Galloway sees art as completely separate from the horrible acts of war. As the cellist represents the importance of art and culture, Arrow is now positioned in opposition to the true civilization of the city.
Themes
Hatred and the Other Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Blue quotation bubble icon linking to an important quote associated with this summary and analysis.