The Cellist of Sarajevo

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

Summary
Analysis
Dragan asks Emina if she would rather be wounded or killed. She answers wounded, rationalizing that any chance at life is better than none. Dragan argues, questioning the sad state of hospitals until Emina is forced to give up her optimism. Dragan sighs, sorry that he took his own fear out on Emina. He apologizes, asking Emina how she stays hopeful. Emina says that there is a man who plays cello for the people who died lining up for bread.
Dragan has become so embittered by the siege conditions that he would rather accept death than the added hardship of being wounded. However, Dragan is not yet so cut-off from other people that he doesn’t care about Emina’s feelings. Emina, for her part, attributes her continued optimism to the cellist’s music. Galloway again ties emotional well-being to the presence of art and culture in the city.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Emina has gone every day to listen to the cellist, but she still doesn’t know what the cellist hopes to accomplish with his music. Dragan thinks that the cellist plays for himself, doing the only thing he knows to make something happen in the damaged city. Emina laughs, saying that her husband Jovan thinks the cellist is just a crazy man who will get himself killed.
Galloway suggests that one way to fight destruction is to continue prioritizing creative acts. Art, music, and culture are all ways to rebuild the values of civilization, even if they cannot actually fix the buildings. Emina and Dragan trust in this power of music, showing that they still have the capacity for kindness in a way that people like Jovan do not.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Emina confesses that she is afraid that this is how life will be forever in Sarajevo. Dragan shares her fear, looking up to see a large gray cloud that hovers over the city. The cloud does seem to be moving, but it is traveling very slowly. A man decides to brave the intersection and he crosses the street safely. Others follow his example, until it is only Dragan and Emina left on their side of the street.
The gray cloud over the city offers a metaphor for the war overshadowing all other concerns in Sarajevo. Yet the movement Dragan notices gives hope that the siege will in fact end at some point. Civilians continue to live their lives as best they can, crossing the street despite the danger.
Themes
War, Civilians, and Humanity Theme Icon
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Dragan thinks of his son, Davor, now nineteen. Davor would be conscripted into the army if he were still in Sarajevo. Dragan wishes his son lived in a better world, but he has no idea what he can do to make that happen. A dog approaches Dragan and Emina, clearly on a mission, with its nose to the ground. The dog does not acknowledge anyone on the street, and no one seems to notice it. The dog crosses the street without fuss and Dragan wonders if dogs can smell bullets coming toward them, or if a sniper would shoot at a dog.
Dragan feels hopeless about the future, unable to see a way forward for his son after the terrible experiences of the war. His concerns are entirely focused on survival. Even when other strange things appear, such as the dog, Dragan only thinks about the dog in terms of what advantages it may have in surviving snipers.
Themes
Heroism Theme Icon
Reality, Image, and Memory Theme Icon
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The dog disappears down the street and Emina asks Dragan where the dog is going. Dragan has no answer, but he realizes that he has been like that dog these past months. His only concern has been to survive. Dragan decides he has waited long enough to cross, joking with Emina about Sarajevan chickens crossing the road. Emina decides to go too, so that she can make it to hear the cellist this afternoon.
Dragan’s realization that he has been no better than a dog these past months inspires him to take action to actually make his life better in the moment. Joking with Emina and moving toward his goal of getting to the bakery are ways for him to return to the normalcy of life before the war.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Reality, Image, and Memory Theme Icon
Emina and Dragan move toward the street, but Dragan suddenly loses his nerve. Emina decides to continue, hugging Dragan, and Dragan briefly notices how colorful Emina’s blue coat is against the gray street. Emina steps into the street as a man with a brown hat and a woman begin to cross from the other side. Another young man passes Dragan to follow Emina when Emina is suddenly hit by a bullet.
Emina’s desire to get to the cellist is stronger than Dragan’s mission to get food, showing how important the cellist’s music is to the suffering people of Sarajevo. Emina’s colored coat shows how she has maintained her personality from before the war. Yet this cheerfulness does not render Emina immune from harm.
Themes
Art, Culture, and Civilization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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The crowd behind the boxcar rushes forward to see if Emina is alive and to yell at the other people in the street to run. The young man runs into the street to help Emina as the man with the brown hat approaches Emina from the other side. The man in the hat passes Emina without stopping to help, then is hit by a bullet in the stomach. The hat lands at Dragan’s feet. Everyone behind the boxcar ducks as the young man in the street picks Emina up and carries her back to safety, despite the bullets skidding on the asphalt.
The man in the hat seems to “deserve” his death for refusing to help Emina in her time of need. However, Dragan also does nothing to assist Emina, too shocked by this sudden outburst of violence. The young man gives an image of heroism by helping Emina to safety, though he remains anonymous as Galloway focuses on other kinds of heroics.
Themes
Heroism Theme Icon
Emina and the young man reach Dragan behind the boxcar. Emina’s arm is wounded. Meanwhile, the now hatless man tries to crawl toward the boxcar though he cannot stand. Dragan starts to count, thinking the sniper must be reloading his gun. When Dragan reaches eight, a bullet hits the hatless man in the head. Dragan looks down and picks up the man’s hat.
Emina and Dragan’s conversation about being wounded vs. being dead now has immediate resonance. No one steps up to help the wounded man in the street, leaving him to die because he didn’t help Emina when she was hurt.
Themes
Heroism Theme Icon