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The Character Analysis of Arrow from the Cellist of Sarajevo

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Merek Zimmerman

on 5 June 2015

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Transcript of The Character Analysis of Arrow from the Cellist of Sarajevo

Background Information
Before the War began Arrow was very similar to many other women of her age, she enjoyed going on dates and she was a part of her universities sharp-shooting team. But as the war progressed the person who she was, soon began to disappear. She was hired as a sniper, tasked with defending the city from the siege, but her talents were then moved to a different project. She was tasked with defending the cellist during his performance.
Throughout the majority of the story Arrow faces a major internal conflict regarding who she was before the war and the person that she has become. As she is walking towards her assignment of killing another human being she notices something that brought her back to a simpler time. The ice cream shop that she walked past evoked memories of her childhood, in a time where she was just like any other girl. These memories also make Arrow realize the drastic changes that Sarajevo has gone through during the progression of the war. It reminds us that Arrow and people like her in times of war are just like any other person underneath their exterior.
As the story progresses and Arrow is touched by the music of the cellist that she has been tasked with protecting a shift in her attitude and who she is takes place. After she was told by Edin Karaman to kill an innocent man as a test, everything she has done and will do comes into question. After she deserts Karaman's unit she knows that men are coming to kill her. But instead of fight back against them she chooses to leave her gun on the nightstand and accept her fate. Arrow knows that who she has been throughout the war is not who she truly is. Rather than fight back and embrace the killing machine mentality she chooses to be who she was before the war and end her life.
The Character Analysis of Arrow from the Cellist of Sarajevo
By Merek Zimmerman

" She passes the remnants of a shop that once sold the best ice cream, and she remembers being a small girl with her grandmother on this street." (Pg. 94, Galloway)
In this context the ice cream represents the life Arrow had before the war began. Arrow's innocence was shattered and lost due to her involvement in the war. It is also a reminder of all the destruction and change that all of Sarajevo has felt. It represents the person who she once was and how different her current life is from what she may have envisioned.
"This is what makes her a weapon. A weapon does not decide whether or not to kill. A weapon is a manifestation of a decision that has already been made." (Pg. 96, Galloway)
As soon as Arrow was given her rifle she left behind the life she once knew and instead became a weapon for the cause. When she was first assigned to this position she was hesitant if she would be able to end the life of another human. But she soon made the decision that the men on the hills (her targets and enemy) were expendable. If it was not them, it was going to be her and countless other innocent lives. She then soon became what she describes as a 'killing machine'. A person whose only task is to vanquish her foes with no second thoughts.
As the ice cream represents Arrow before the war her rifle represents who she is during the war. She transitioned from a regular young woman to a killing machine with no emotion or second though towards what she was doing. Her job is to protect the people of Sarajevo and eliminate whoever stands in her way. The person who she once was is almost entirely lost and she knows that her life will never be the same.
"She still knows who she wants to be, and as far as she can see, the only path leading her towards this person is back through her former self." (Pg. 72, Galloway)
"But she isn't going to pick up the gun. It sits on her night table partly out of habit, and partly because she wants them to know that she was armed and could have fought back." (Pg. 256, Galloway)
The ice cream represented who she was before the war, the rifle represented who she became and the nightstand where she chose to leave her gun represents her journey back towards who she once was. She would rather die embracing the person she was before the war instead of continuing on her life in the war as the killing machine that she had become.
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