The Character Of Arrow In The Cellist Of Sarajevo

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An individual’s response to the drastic changes in their life reveals a lot about their character. In Steven Galloway’s novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo, the author follows the lives of three distinct characters affected by the siege on their beloved city. In the face of such compelling and often violent circumstances, the character Arrow learns to adapt her behaviour and attitude to fit her stark surroundings. While working as a sniper, Arrow faces a moral conflict as she tries to resolve her motivations for fighting back. Much like Sarajevo itself, Arrow experience the deterioration of her principles and morals. In order to survive, she sometimes has to make powerful sacrifices in war-torn Sarajevo that she would never have even considered…show more content…
She was not always Arrow – once she was a young girl who never intended to hurt anyone. Arrow’s very choice to change her identity whilst killing represents her desire to separate herself from the innocent young woman she used to be. She realizes that her new persona “will enjoy fighting back” (13) the men on the hills whereas the old her did not. Thus, without the existence of the men on the hills, the destruction of her previous life and the death of her father, there would be no Arrow, for Arrow is a manifestation of an innocent person’s hatred, “I am Arrow, because I hate them. The woman you knew hated nobody” (13). Before the war, Arrow recalls how as a young woman, she realizes that “life is wondrous, and that it won’t last forever” (12). She considers this appreciation of life a gift that has been stolen from her and the people of Sarajevo. The men on the hills – her enemies – have stolen the ability for Arrow to enjoy life as she once did and this propels her on the path of vengeance. Consequently, a young woman who was a part of her university’s sharp-shooting team transforms into a sniper who hunts the men on the hills with some form of…show more content…
She wonders if her actions are justified. Thus, she experiences a profound inner dilemma between the woman she was before the war and the weapon she has become because of it. The horrific circumstances she is forced into only increase in their intensity as her ability to hold onto her morals is challenged by the military she works for. From the start of the war, Arrow tries to differentiate herself from the men on the hills by justifying the fact that she does not kill blindly like them. Her gun is only aimed at soldiers of her own choosing, not civilians. Months later, she realizes that despite her best attempts, the woman who “said she didn’t want to kill anyone was gone” (71). In fact, her ability to kill relatively easily starts to deteriorate her morals. She admits that on days that she does not kill, “she feels a loss… It’s almost a lust” (110). As well as experiencing a sense of bloodlust, Arrow also becomes numb to the tragedies of war. She used to attend as many funerals as she could, until “the more she attended the less she felt” (138). Although she knows the woman who she used to be is disappearing in the face of warfare, she is still determined to hold onto the last bits of innocence she has left. All around her, she sees Sarajevo transforming with her – the soldier fighting for the city are not clean either. A part of her still wants to return to the Sarajevo of the past, but as the fighting
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