The Theme Of Appearance Vs. Reality In Steven Galloway's The Cellist Of Sarajevo

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Handfuls of shells spiral towards the ground, dotting impact craters across the previously flat terrain, wreaking havoc on the inhabitants scattering from the area, only to have the shells quickly picked up and included in a child’s seashell collection. In Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo, the main characters frequently imagine a life free of war and crisis, but are ultimately stuck in the world of reality, albeit using memories and illusions to cope with the war-torn world that they face. Through the emphasizing of the characters’ rejecting the harsh reality during the Siege of Sarajevo, Galloway creates the theme of appearance versus reality by eliminating the appearance of certain emotions within the characters; allowing the characters …show more content…

Not only is it immediately apparent that Kenan is afraid of his surroundings, it is also apparent that he is afraid of showing this fear to his family members. By upholding a positive demeanour in front of his family and friends who live in his apartment building, he is effectively able to convince the people in his surroundings that the situation outside of the building is not as bad as it appears. Upon exiting his apartment unit in preparation to fetch water, Kenan immediately breaks down, stating that “[h]e doesn’t want to go” and imagines other possible scenarios that could be taking place rather than him crying on his apartment landing (Galloway 26). Eventually, he acknowledges that “[his family] must not see him like this” nor “know how afraid he is, how useless he is, [or] how powerless he has become”, choosing to venture out despite his fears (Galloway 26). In preventing his family members from viewing the reality of their world, Kenan eliminates a certain sense of fear in which they can live calmly within the confines of their apartment unit whilst Kenan puts himself in danger. In addition to the illusive figure of bravery that his family members see, the …show more content…

Perhaps the greatest use of appearance versus reality is within Alisa, a conflict with one’s self. The conflicts brought upon by the siege of her city quickly gains hold of Alisa’s daily life, stating that “[f]rom the first time she picked up a rifle to kill she has called herself Arrow”—essentially masking her real self with an illusion to protect the sanity of her real identity as well as to distance herself from the ideals that Alisa would not be proud of (Galloway 13). Despite greatly emphasizing her new identity as “Arrow”, it is made apparent through her many actions throughout The Cellist of Sarajevo that her identity of Alisa never left her, seen when she is asked by Hasan to “fire at [his] target”—an unarmed civilian—only to respond assertively that she is “not going to kill an unarmed civilian” and to abandon her position entirely. In spite of previously killing a soldier who had no desire to kill and was of no difference to an unarmed civilian, Alisa is not able to suppress her moral ideologies this time, even though once having the audacity to “[want the soldier] to move his hand” towards his trigger (Galloway 153). Regardless of Alisa’s efforts to mask her identity throughout the siege, it is the collapse between the structures of appearance and reality that costs Alisa her life. Upon realizing that her illusion of “Arrow”

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