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Cellist of Sarajevo Character Conflict Analysis

By: Brian Lam and Yu-Tang Yu

Valkary Corporation

on 19 June 2013

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Transcript of Cellist of Sarajevo Character Conflict Analysis

Internal (Arrow)
A bright, yellow light burns every night
in the sky ever so gently and alluring. It's a
shining factor of benevolence, and a character of guidance as it is an incorruptible star that symbolizes the attributes of hope. Much like how the stars were used to guide sailors on their ocean endeavors, they would be lost in the sea forever if they were to ever abandon the stars. And much like how the war of Sarajevo has devastated, ruptured, and crippled the innocence of the city and its people, they too would be lost forever in a sea of anguish, malevolence, and malice if they were to abandon their hope- their stars. This is the main theme that we will be discussing today, along with the opposing factions of hate, agony, pain, misery, and all that show the importance of hope, as the characters: Arrow, Kenan, and Dragan will have to endure, persevere, and overcome this war in order to rebuild their city and livelihood in the future. And although not all may survive the war of Sarajevo; it is the fact that they've learned the true meaning of hope and all that it inspires which is that of acceptance, strength, determination, and the happiness that they all must muster in order to fuel the creation that renews, rebuilds, and recovers their city and its people from the jaws of despair-a bright, yellow star.
Arrow, much like many others, lives in a life full of insidiousness and hatred. And while living in the circumstances of pain, anger, and misery, she takes upon a military life that gives her a chance, or more of an excuse to kill in order to protect the city and the innocence lives of Sarajevo. And she does so, all with only a simple sniper rifle as it is her main weapon and object of mass destruction. But Arrow will fall from the buildings in which she has risen and climbed for her sense of morality and innocence within her will continue to conflict with the hateful demon and corrupted sense of justice portrayed on her exterior self, and cause her to slowly lose her true self.
Kenan's main conflicts lie in the fact that he is simply scared. He fears death and the thought of never seeing his family again which is the reason why he fights for their survival and their lives, making trips frequently for water, exposing himself to the deters of war and forcing him to face his fears of death.
Kenan wields his two plastic bottles as
his only shield and defence against the trials
of war, orbiting around the dangers of survival. He lives in discontent, as do many, but it's even more so for Kenan because he struggles to help not only him and his family, but also his helpless neighbour, Mrs.Ristovsky. And for Kenan, leaving his family is his everyday torture for he doesn't want to leave them unprotected. But despite this hardship, he knows he has to leave in order to get the water that they so desperately need, and it becomes a decision that he struggles with every time which is: to give in to his fears of death and not leave his family, ignoring their needs for water, or to persevere because for him, his family is everything.
"As the door to the apartment closes behind him he pressess his back to it and slides to the ground. His legs are heavy, his hands cold. He doesn't want to go... They must not see him like this. They must not know how afraid he is, how useless he is, how powerless he has become." (26)
"It's things like this that make him the coward he is, unable to help the wounded at a massacre, or a relatively unharmed man searching for a dog. He didn't help man look, or look himself, or even think about looking... Fear has paralyzed him as surely as a bullet to the spine, and he simply doesn't have what it takes to go back. Shame soaks through him." (167-168)
The war fore sakes many in this destroyed life, but Kenan walks the path in which he learns to be the path that continues the sustainability in his life. He is defeated and enveloped by the war's tragedy and anguish, and all the more, it only increases Kenan's fear of death and morbidness that he feels internally. In fact, cowardice is a conflict that he and Dragan shares, but as for Kenan specifically, he feels relenting, wanting to be free of all the obligations he has especially towards his family, and to just "be taken away by the firefighters."
"He begins to work his way toward the Cumurija Bridge, where two bottles of water without handles wait for him in a small hole." (216)
Although Kenan feels lost in his cowardice, resulting from the stress of having to keep his family alive and along with the accumulation of his fears of death; Kenan makes a defining decision in a defining moment when he chooses to return to the Cumurija Bridge to retrieve the water bottles of Mrs.Ristovsky. By doing so, Kenan has shown the lesson that he has learned which is that of hope, because even though he had contemplated on giving up his loyalty to his helpless neighbour, Mrs.Ritovski, his devotion to himself and his ethics of human morality has made him stronger, determined, and happy, as he now fights not only for his family and his neighbour to survive, but also for his future, his city, and everyone else. And even though he still might be a little scared, Kenan's hope is what drives him now, guiding him and helping him maintatin his integrity and merit, despite living in such tragic conditions.
"If they persist, she tells them her name is Arrow no. No one argues. No one questions what she must do. Everyone does something to stay alive. But if they were to press her, she would say, 'I am Arrow, because I hate them. The woman you knew hated nobody.'" (13)
Alisa has adopted the name Arrow to shield her old self from the malevolence of war. The violence, aggressiveness, and danger from she had developed has changed her life and became a deputy to fight from her city, herself, and her people from the "men on the hills". But this is only an illusion she's dealt herself as it is just a form of excuse that she uses in order to for her to kill without consequence. But little does she know, there will always be consequences. But at the same time, she has a limit. when the Colonel Edin Karaman said "I'm going to select a target, and you'll fire. Easy You'll do fine." she denies his command. Although the target was on the enemy side she chose not to to kill him. She has a weakness against humanity. Everyone is her people unless they have a gun.
Arrow has always been a character of justice where she fought and killed to protect the city of Sarajevo and its innocent people. But unfortunately, her overwhelming sense of justice slowly diminished as it was replaced by hate and anger towards the "men on the hills."
But even so, Arrow shows moments of understanding and righteousness like when she tries to decide to kill or not to kill the sniper hunting the cellist. "She knows this to a certainty. Yet she doesn't want to pull her trigger. All because she can see that he doesn't want to pull his."
Arrow, joyful and gleeful, lived a simple life filled with the love of her family and friends. It was a very relaxed and arbitrary lifestyle, far away from death and tragedy like the times presented now, "She felt an enveloping happiness to be alive."
"Arrow takes her finger off the trigger, looks up at Hasan. 'I'm not going to kill an unarmed civilian.' Hasan turns to her. 'You'll kill who I tell you to kill.'
Arrow shakes her head. 'No.'
Hasan slides down from the window. 'What do you think this is, some sort of game?'"
"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 matters only that she leaves it." (257)
Arrow finally begins to accept that she can no longer be "Arrow" if she wants to return to being her old, true self-Alisa. For the men that will come to kill her, they will only find Arrow sitting on her bed with a gun on her night table, seeing it as a surrender and a form of giving up. But for Arrow, it shows that she accepts her death as well as realizing the hate that she has accumulated over the years. And for Arrow's last moments, she relinquishes all that hate and anger by saying the words "My name is Alisa." By doing so, she stripped away her external persona which is that of Arrow, and finally revealing her old, true self from when she lived a content life after several years of hardship and anguish. In the end, she died free and hopeful.

"Dragan knows that the camera will b efilming soon, and he knows that he doesn't want the body of the hatless man to be caught on film." (232)
"As he looks at the camera, however, Dragan realizes that he missed the point, It doesn't matter what the world thinks of his city. All that matters is what he thinks in the Sarajevo of his memory. It was completely unacceptable to have a dead man lying in the street. In the Sarajevo today it's normal. He has been living in neither, has tried to live in a ctiy that no longer exists, refusing to participate in the one that does." (234)
"Not because he thought anything through, but because he was afraid. If that makes him a coward, he's comfortable calling himself a coward. He isn't built for war. He doesn't want to be built for war." (181)
The idea of cowardice is not an uncommon aspect in the people of Sarajevo during the war. But this internal conflict is especially true of Dragan. He feels that he is a coward because he was afraid of being shot and told Emina as she was walking across the street, "I'm not ready." he feels ashamed that he lacks the virtues of bravery in this now morbid society. And it even shows throughout his conversations with Emina when she tells him that she's carrying a bottle of pills to give to the needed, in which Dragan responds in feelings of hopelessness and futility. His cowardice is a discouraging factor that weakens him, his thoughts, and his actions.
Dragan is internally very scared of death. But he is ashamed of it so he hides it from others such as Emina by masking it with seclusion and acts hopeless, like he's accepted Sarajevo's fate. And by ignoring the truth, and not staying strong, he prevents himself from prevailing over the hell of war. And it is that ignorance of his fears and not facing them that only strengthens his attributes as a coward and lengthens his time of in-action.
"Dragan smiles as he passes an elderly man. The man doesn't meet his gaze, keeps his eyes on the ground.
'Good afternoon,'Dragan says, his voice bright.
The man looks up. He seems surpirsed.
'Good afternoon,' Dragan repeats.
The man nods, and wishes him the same." (251)
This is a turning point for Dragan as he finally accepts his fears, and chooses to overcome them. The war had turned him into a coward and a man of seclusion, and was very reclusive. And it was the catalyst of seeing Emina's saviour rushing, risking his life to bring her to safety that made him finally understand the importance of hope. That, and along with seeing the hatless man as the exact opposite of Emina's saviour. A man that represented Dragan in a way that they both were possessed by the ghost of cowardice. And I guess it was because of that, seeing what he was and what he should be that made him understand why Emina had been wanting to bring the bottle of pills to the hospital, and why she had wanted to go see the cellist for the last time-because of hope. Hope that if she brought the pills to someone who truly needed it that they might survive, and hope that life will be changed and that they'll be saved as inscribed by the cellist's music. And Dragan finally makes his decision on the life that he wants to lead which is that of benevolence and strife. He puts the bottle of pills now in his own pocket and leaves to go see the cellist. He drags the lifeless corpse of the hatless man off the streets, despite putting his life at risk, and he returns to making small gestures like wishing an old man a good afternoon as he passes them. Dragan has now and undeniable dignified identity defined by the presence of hope.
Dragan is quiet, judgemental and secluded, mainly keeping to himself as he struggles throughout the war. Dragan's conflicts lie with his internal fears of death in which he is also ashamed of and tries to hide it by ignoring those fears and accepting the hopelessness of it all. But his shame is also what makes him change and learn the reason to hope. And as he witnesses his friend, Emina get shot, the bravery portrayed by a stranger, and the death of a cowardice man, Dragan finally faces his fears and transforms himself into a man of optimism and fortitude.
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