Cellist of Sarjevo Essay Sample
- Word count: 3573
- Category: killing
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Cellist of Sarjevo Essay Sample
Characterization: Arrow (Chapter 1)
* 28 years old, female sniper
* She only shoots enemy soldiers in the hills “There is a difference between Arrow and the snipers in the hill; she shoots only soldiers. They shoot men, women and children.” (Pg. 11) * Arrow shoots the soldiers because; “Arrow pulls the trigger and ends the life of one of the soldiers in her sight, she’ll do so not because she wants him dead, although she can’t deny that she does but because the soldiers have robbed her and almost everyone else in the city of this gift. That life will end has become so self-evident it’s lost all meaning.” (Pg. 12) * She is more superior to other “hunters”, she can make a bullet do things others can’t (Pg. 10) * She has trouble understanding why others can’t do what she can * She has big blue eyes and shoulder length black hair
* Arrow has been hired to take out the enemy forces to help fight the war against Sarajevo. * Arrow isn’t her real name. “Using her real name would make her no different from the men she kills. It would be a death greater than the end of her life” (Pg. 13) * This is unique because from the first time she picked up a riffle she called herself Arrow, protecting her and those she fights for: her city. * “Because of what they’ve done to her, has created a desire to separate the part of her that will fight back, enjoy fighting to the part of her that never wanted to fight.” (Pg. 13) The war has changed her personable nature and thought. This is part of the developing theme of transformation. * “Her new identity Arrow caused by what the soldiers have made her become” (Pg. 13) Arrow has developed and obtained a new identity that she must protect herself and fight for those of Sarajevo and she has no other moral option * She’s experienced and dangerous. She knows all the strategies, takes all risks and challenges. * “Arrow herself is a weapon.” (Pg. 13)
Characterization/Plot: Arrow (Chapter 2)
* “We have a special assignment for you. An important assignment.” (Pg. 69) Arrow is being asked to protect the cellist from the snipers. Arrow is being asked to take the role of protecting the only thing the city has left: The cellist * “She thinks of this in the context of pulling the trigger and ending a life.” (Pg. 96) Arrow wasn’t a killer before the war and turned into one because of it. She doesn’t like it but must do it. * “Arrow will keep this man alive. This wasn’t ever really in doubt but neither had she decided she would do it. Now, as she sits where he sits, she tells herself that she will not allow this man to die.” (Pg. 97) Arrow feels strong responsibility of the cellist’s life and urges to keep him alive for her and the city. * She knows there is a sniper in the building across the road so she goes up into a building and tries to spot him but she can’t. She can’t blow her cover. * Arrow is also worried about herself because: “She’s beginning to think perhaps she has lost her way, perhaps she isn’t the weapon she was just a few days ago.” (Ph. 137) * She is contradicting whether she is the same “weapon” the war had turned her into, as she was earlier. * Self-realization?
Is Arrow questioning her ability to carry out her responsibilities and duties for Sarajevo, the cellist and herself? * “When her neighbor Slavko was killed by a sniper on his way back from collecting water, shot clean through the neck, they took him to the Kosevo Stadium, now made into a burial ground.” (Pg. 138) Arrow thinks about all of the people she had lost during the war, and how the Kosevo Stadium had turned into a burial ground. * Slavko was Arrow’s neighbor, he died from a sniper. Arrow went to his funeral. * At the funeral they hear shots being fired at them from the hills. Everyone but Arrow and a larger man jumped into a dugout grave. The man asks her why she didn’t jump into the grave, she says that she was worried that he would have landed on top of her but really it was because: “Later though, she knew the real reason. She would not let the men on the hills decide when she went below the ground. If she were to go underground it would be because she decided to or because they killed her. But she wasn’t going to do their work for them.” (Pg. 142) * Her morals prevent her from being scared of death
Characterization/Plot of Arrow (Chapter 3)
* Arrow goes to visit Nermin to update him on what’s happened. She explains to him about the sniper not shooting. Nermin says “No you didn’t. But this has nothing to do with the cellist. The time has come for you to disappear. “(Pg. 189) Nermind cold no longer look after her so he let her go. * Nermin is the closest thing to a friend that Arrow has. * Arrow thinks about why she kills the men on the hills, at the beginning it was because it was her duty to kill them but now she kills them because: “She knows she no longer kills them because they are killing her fellow citizens. That’s just a part of it. She kills them because she hates them.” (Pg. 190) * Arrow’s changing again. She had changed when the war started and she first began killing the snipers, but now everything had changed, she kills because she has to and because she hates them. * The war is changing and impacting people severely. Water and food are precious resources for survival. “Her stomach grumbles, protesting her small supper of rice and weak tea. She can’t stand rice.” (Pg. 195) * The army pays Arrow in cigarettes. She trades them for things like chocolate and soap. * Arrow has been reassigned to a new unit.
She is taken to Colonel Edin Karaman. She is to listen to a man on who to shoot from now on and she doesn’t like it. But “Arrow bends down and picks up her riffle. Its familiar weight comforts her. If they want her to kill the men on the hills, then fine, she will kill the men on the hills. Whatever has happened in her life, the choices she has already made, they have led her to this point. All that remain are the consequecnes.” (Pg. 202) * The men on the hills destroyed the town and what remains are broken buildings. “They take her to what’s left of the parliament building, one of the tallest buildings in town. The men on the hills have hit it with hundreds of shells, set it on fire, and then fired hundreds more shells at it. (Pg. 217) * Arrow is assigned to Hassan, and is to shoot who he says. * Arrow argues with Hassan about who to shoot. “That man’s a civilian.” She says. “He’s no soldier.” * “He’s our target,” Hasan says. “I pick who to shoot at, not you.” “No she says.” “He’s no good.” (Pg. 223) * Arrow’s heart is still for the city and the people.
* She’s only shot at soldiers, and Hassan is telling her to shoot at civilians, she questions. * The Colonel Karaman’s unit is no “ordinary unit” They kill civilians. He refers to it as a “test” that Arrow is failing. (Pg. 125) She says refuses and leaves.
Characterization/Plot of Arrow (Chapter 4)
* “The footsteps are at the top of the stairs now, just outside her door. Arrow looks again at the gun on her night table. If she were to use it, she knows exactly what would happen. The men on the other side of the door would die and she’d step over their bodies and out into the street. It would take only a few seconds. It would be the easiest thing in the world. But she isn’t going to pick up the gun. It sits on the night table partly out of habit, and partly because she wants them to know that she was armed and could have fought back. She’s not sure they’ll notice this clue. It doesn’t matter. It only matters that she leaves it.” (Pg. 256-25) * Arrow hears footsteps close to her door then knocking. She knows they are going to kill her or take her away. She thinks about killing them but then thinks about just leaving her gun at her side so they know she could have killed them. * “In a few seconds the door will open.
At least four men, maybe more, will burst through and as quickly as they can, they will fire as many bullets into her as possible. It won’t take long, only a few seconds, and afterwards they will feel sheepish at how nervous they were about the whole thing. She hears one of them take a step back, knows he’s about to kick in the door. He closes her eyes, recalls the notes she heard only yesterday, a melody that is no longer there but feels very close. Her lips move, and a moment before the door splinters off its hinges she says, her voice strong and quiet, “My name is Alisa.” (Pg. 258) * HOLY MOLY!
* Arrow “Alisa” isn’t fearful. At the end she takes herself true and as herself. She wants them to know she could have killed them. She is Arrow. All of her thoughts and morals from the beginning of the novel have been EVER SO summed up and brought to life in the last chapter. * GREAT ENDING
* At the end she tries to re-assign her identity to herself to those who have robbed it from her. They made her a killer, and now she’s coming to peace with her true self.
Theme(s) Chapters 1-4: Arrow
* “You don’t choose what to believe. Belief chooses you.” (Pg. 13) This quote ties into the theme of fate. Everything that happens is happening for a reason. Arrow wasn’t a killer before the war, but she was chosen to obtain the role to defend her city. * “Because of what they’ve done to her, has created a desire to separate the part of her that will fight back, enjoy fighting to the part of her that never wanted to fight.” (Pg. 13) The war has changed her personable nature and thought. This is part of the developing theme of transformation. Arrow’s character has transformed throughout the novel. * Survival: How all characters survive during the brutal conflict against Sarajevo. * Life & Death
* Memory vs. Reality: Arrow remembers who she was before the war and has held onto her own identity inside her throughout the war and throughout everyone she’s killed. But in reality, she was a killer named Arrow, who killed people to protect her and Sarajevo. * Self-Sacrifice: At the end of the novel Arrow kills Arrow, and re-lights Alisa.
Characterization/Plot of Kenan (Chapter 1)
* 40 years old, lives with his wife Amilia, two daughters and son that’s 8. * They haven’t had power in a month, and occasionally have running water. * Every few days Kenan gathers containers and goes into the city and gets drinking water. * He risks death to keep himself and family alive. (Theme: survival) * Every few days Kenan gathers up plastic containers to go into the city to get drinking water. * “Each time you expose yourself to the dangers of the streets you run the risk of injury or death. But carry too much and you lose the ability to run, duck, dive anything it takes to get out of dangers way” (Pg. 24) Kenan is aware of the risk and dangers of the streets, and knows how much he can carry to still be able to return home without becoming too weak.
* Kenan has choices to make. He must consider his mobility and strength. * He must care for his family, but also help his old neighbor Mrs. Risivoski, a grumpy old lady. * “Kenan knows he’s becoming progressively weaker and wonders when he won’t be able to bring back water to his family.” Sense of agony and lose hope * He is thoughtful and cares greatly for his family, and feels a duty to bring back water for Mrs. Risivoski too. He is pleasing and doesn’t want to refuse anyone. He doesn’t really think about himself as much as he does for others. * Kenan at the same time is still in hope. “The rest of Europe will do something to stop it from escalating.” He is confidence change will come soon.
Characterization/Plot of Kenan (Chapter 2)
* Kenan worked as a clerical assistant in an accounting firm, but the building has been destroyed so there is no work.
* His friend Ismet is a soldier.
* Kenan doesn’t want to join the army because “He knows that sooner or later he will have to kill someone.”
* Kenan is afraid of dying, and killing. (Pg. 51)
* If he joins the army will face is two greatest fears: dying and killing.
* Kenan has many decisions to make.
* “It takes courage to kill a man, and he doesn’t possess such courage.” (Pg. 51) * Kenan doesn’t want to transform through his fear of death or killing, or the urge of courage and bravery. * “To him and others the tram was one of the most tangible signs of civilization.” (Pg. 55) * “In Kenan’s mind, whatever else happens, the war will not be over until the trams run again.” (Pg. 55) * Kenan sees the tram almost every day and it reminds him of civilization. Civilization that the war and the snipers have robbed Sarajevo of. * The tram traffic in Sarajevo represents as the heart of the city, and with the destruction of it, the city appears to be dying. * As Kenan is going to get water he sees trucks are putting out a fire at the library, as the men on the kills keep shooting. (Snipers: Showing no remorse, evil) Evil that has masked Sarajevo, the dying and death of the city. * As Kenan is going to get water he sees trucks are putting out a fire at the library, as the men on the kills keep shooting. (Snipers: Showing no remorse, evil) Evil that has masked Sarajevo, the dying and death of the city.
* Kenan dodges the snipers to get his water. As he gets the bridge a woman comes up behind him and asks if it’s clear to go. * He tries to waste as little water as possible, so nobody else runs out of water. Kenan is very thoughtful for others. * While Kenan is standing in line, “The shell hits, and an instant after hearing the loudest noise he thought the world could contain, Kenan is knocked off his feet.” “He sprawls on his back, and he doesn’t hear the whistle of the second incoming shell, but hears its detonation.” (Pg. 159) * Kenan watches as bodies are loaded into a van.
“The bodies are loaded in feet first, and as they’re lifted into the van their heads roll back as though taking one last look at the pace where they died.” (Pg. 165) * “There’s no way that his friend Ismet sits in a hole on the front line and thinks such silly, meaningless thoughts. Its things like this that makes him the coward he is, unable to help the wounded at a massacre, or a relatively unharmed man searching for his dog. “ (Pg. 167) * There is a distinct difference between Ismet and Kenan. Kenan is far more thoughtful. Ismet is a coward. * Kenan is debating about going back to help anyone that was hurt. “Fear was paralyzing him as surely as a bullet to his spine, and he simply doesn’t have what it takes to go back.” (Pg. 168)
Characterization/Plot of Kenan (Chapter 3)
* As Kenan hurries though the town to get his water he comes across the cellist. “He stares at the cellist, and feels himself relax as the music seeps into him.” (Pg. 209) * Kenan thinks about what his life would be like without the war, not having to get water, risking his life for his and his family’s survival. Characterization/Plot of Kenan (Chapter 4)
* Instead of making the mission for water today he is going for a different reason. Amila asks Kenan if he can go out to get her some chocolate and a dozen eggs. He asks why a dozen eggs, she replies that she is going to bake a cake. He then adds is going to get some Brandy to go with it. * They are celebrating. Author ended Kenan’s story in a good note. Celebrating their survival of the war so far. * Endings of their stories are FANTASTIC
Characterization/Plot of Dragan (Chapter 1-2)
* 40 year old, lives in Mejtas with his sister and her family. * He has worked for the city’s bakery for 40 years.
* Dragan was able to get his wife Raza and son Davor out of the city before the war started. They’re in Italy. * “If people are going to be taken from him, either through death or a transformation of their personality that makes them into strangers, then he’s better off without then.” (Pg. 43) Dragan is scared of change. * He is without is family and city. It used to only take him a half hour to get to his work now an extra hour because of the war. * It’s possible the sniper is gone. At least ten minutes have passed since he fired and already several people have made it through the intersection without incident.” (Pg. 77) * Dragan has to deal with the sniper every day when he goes to work. He risks his life by crossing the road. * “There is a sharp zip, a rush of air as a bullet snaps past his left ear, then the harsh blast of a gun. For an instant he wonders if he’s been shot.” * “Do you think, “Dragan asks, “It’s worse to be wounded or killed?” (Pg. 123) (Pg. 123) * Dragan questions what’s worse, to be shot or to die.
* He has a great fear of being shot, but what about dying?
* He has to dodge the snipers every day.
* Dragan acknowledges the cellist, but doesn’t pay attention to him.
Characterization/Plot of Dragan (Chapter 3)
* Emina: “She’s been shot just above the elbow in the power part of her biceps.” (Pg. 175) “Emina is still conscious and doesn’t seem to be in much pain as had have expected. Her face is white.” (Pg. 176) * What brought Emina there was: “I wanted to see the cellist play today. It’s his last day. Jovan says he’s finished after this.” (Pg. 177) The cellist is the heart of the city and the people. His playing re-lives people to feeling and accessing their memories and lives before the war. * Once Emina is taken away, Dragan thinks about his actions. “Still he didn’t move when shots were fired. Not because he thought anything though, but because he was afraid. If that makes him a coward he’s comfortable calling himself a coward.” (Pg. 181) * Dragan is thinking about leaving the city, but the only safe way is through the tunnel. * He imagines what it would be like to live in Italy with his wife and son and not to hate anyone. * “They will be happy. They won’t hate anyone, and no one will hate them.” (Pg. 183) Characterization/Plot of Dragan (Chapter 4)
* “There is no way to tell which version of a lie is the truth. Is the real Sarajevo the one where people were happy, treated each other well lived without conflict? Or is the real Sarajevo the one he sees today, where people are trying to kill each other, where bullets and bombs fly down from the hills and the buildings crumble to the ground? Dragan can only ask the question. He doesn’t know for sure. “ (Pg. 247) * Dragan is older and has seen Sarajevo on both sides, of normality and of war. * He is unsure of what the real Sarajevo is.
* “He knows which lie he will tell himself. The city he lives in id full of people who will someday go back to treating each other like humans. The war will end, and when it’s looked back upon it will with regret, not with fond memories of faded glory.” (Pg. 248) * Dragan knows that Sarajevo will never be the same, but he jjust imagines that it will so he can look forward to the future. * Dragan crosses the street once again, even more terrified than all the previous times. He makes it across and wonders if he’s been shot but he hasn’t. On his way home he is going to make a detour and watch the cellist play so he can tell Emina.