Significance Of Arrow In The Cellist Of Sarajevo

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The Preservation of Identity Through Commitment (37. The human need to make a commitment or renounce a course of action) The concept of making a commitment can mean a variety of things to different people and under different circumstances. To the character Arrow in Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo, making a commitment means retrieving her identity and protecting what is left of it at all costs. Arrow needs to make these commitments when she is recruited as a sniper during the Bosnian War. The destruction both created and perpetuated by her plays a role in Arrow losing her grip on her identity. Throughout the novel, she experiences this loss and strives to recover whichever pieces of her former self that she can. Presented in this…show more content…
As the story progresses, she changes her perspective on protecting the cellist. When first tasked with this, she says, “’I can’t be responsible for him’” (75). At this point, she does not realize what the cellist represents or why he is playing at all. Later on, however, she confronts her new unit commander about the subject. She tells him, “’I have an assignment already’” (201). When she realizes how the cellist protects what little good that it seems is left in Sarajevo, she wants to commit to helping him do this. Arrow’s character in regards to the cellist shift from sceptical to fond, and she becomes emotionally attached to his cause and what he represents. When in the parliament building with Hasan, Arrow is able to make a commitment by actually refusing to act. Thinking about how her identity would be altered by killing whomever Hasan points out to her, she becomes committed to placing her morals first. She says to him, “’I’m not going to kill an unarmed civilian’” (224). When Arrow says this, she consciously makes the decision to live on the run rather than betray the identity she wishes to obtain once more. She reconnects to the person she used to be, who had never hated anybody, let alone killed innocent strangers. Finally, Arrow makes a commitment to herself in death. Instead of fighting and betraying her values, which is essential for survival, she lays down her arms and faces her death with dignity. When the men who are sent to hunt her break through her door, “she says, her voice strong and quiet, ‘My name is Alisa’” (258). By this point, she feels as though she has honoured her former self to the extent that she can use her real name. She can do this because she no longer exchanges bullets for lives. This means that she is no longer burdened with immoral actions, so her name can no longer be
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