The Cellist of Sarajevo Book Report
The Cellist of Sarajevo Book ReportSetting
The Cellist of Sarajevo, a novel written by Steven Galloway is set in the city of Sarajevo, during the Bosnian war in the 1990’s. Galloway chose this setting to recount the stories of eyewitnesses present during the siege of Sarajevo, and to give his reader’s a sense of what the perspective was of the people living in Sarajevo during the siege. The tone set by the author is doleful and depressing, to accompany the miserable city around the characters. The main storyline takes place in a market, where a mortar shell had exploded killing 22 people. The setting is essential to the story because a cellist plays Albinoni’s Adagio at the marketplace to commemorate the 22 victims of the bombing. Characters
Protagonists, The Cellist, Arrow, Kenan and Dragan and Nermin Filipovic.
Antagonists, The men on the hills, Colonel. Karaman. The CellistThe main character in the story, he was the lead cellist in the Sarajevo orchestra because of the siege.
Arrow is an elite sniper in the Sarajevian defense corps, she was assigned to protect The Cellist for the 22 days that he played. Her foils are the men on the hills, as well as Colonel Karaman after she leaves the defense corps.
He is a father and husband, on a quest to get to the brewery and bring back water for his family. His relation to The Cellist is that he goes to hear him play. His foil is the snipers watching the intersections.
He is a bakery shop worker and a father and husband. His relation to The Cellist is that he goes to hear him play. His foil is the enemy snipers watching the intersections as he tries to cross in his quest to get food.
She is an elderly woman and a neighbor of Kenan’s. She has no relation to the main character.
She is a friend of Dragan’s and has remained optimistic throughout the siege. Her relation to The Cellist is that she goes to hear him play. Her foil is being shot by a sniper while trying to deliver medication to a person in need. Nermin Filipovic is a Sgt. in the Sarajevan Defense Corps and one of the few soldiers who have real military experience. He assigns Arrow to protect The Cellist.
He is Arrow’s second commander, a ruthless man he cares for nothing other than winning the war no matter the cost. He resigns Arrow from protecting The Cellist. His foil is Arrow after she quits and becomes a fugitive of the Defense Corps.
The Cellist is a young, wise man who was the lead cellist of the Sarajevo Symphony Orchestra before the war. He wears a clean tuxedo as he sits in the exposed middle of the street where the mortar fell. At the beginning of the story, he sits in the window of his apartment and plays his cello until he feels his hope return. Occasionally, he plays the Adagio on days he finds it difficult to feel hope. He considers it to be a precious currency, stating that he did not know how many Adagio’s he had left in him and does not want to foolishly waste them. What motivates him is to commemorate the deaths of the 22 victims in the marketplace bombing. He wishes to restore hope to the Sarajevan’s through playing Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the 22 victims. The Cellist played only for his own hope to return at the beginning, but after the mortar strike, he played for not only himself but for the city of Sarajevo and the Sarajevans, thus making him dynamic. I believe this character to be believable because he is a symbol of hope and what humanity is capable of in dire circumstances. Furthermore, The Cellist was based on a real person that lived in Sarajevo during the siege.
Arrow is a young military sniper with a unique skill of being able to calculate shots instinctively. Before the war, she was a university sharpshooter and relatively pretty. She dresses in a standard military uniform and is usually equipped with a rifle. Arrow considers herself a weapon, solely focusing on her mission and killing as many attackers as possible. She feels that she is in the right to hate the men on the hills for what they have done. She is motivated by hate and by giving up her name and taking the name Arrow she is able to defend her city, kill those that deserve to die and remain relatively innocent at the end of the war. After being assigned to protecting The Cellist, Arrow began listening to the music and felt her humanity return to her. She realized that she did not want to kill or hate the men on the hills, that the old her did not hate anybody and that she still had a deep love for her city and what it had represented.
This marks a change in her character, thus making her dynamic. I think that Arrow is a believable character, her transformation to considering herself to be a weapon in order to kill the attackers and defend her city seems to be an entirely possible shift in character for a person, given the circumstances. Furthermore, I believe that the fact that The Cellist’s music was powerful enough to restore her humanity at the end of the novel, was a believable and compelling demonstration of how a person can be saved from themselves.
At the beginning of the story, Arrow is seen deciding which of the two soldiers she should kill, then she goes to Nermin’s office and is tasked with protecting The Cellist. Kenan starts his quest to the brewery for water for his family and Mrs. Ristovski. Dragan Heads down to the bakery to get a meal so he will not have to eat his sister’s food. Arrow kills the enemy sniper and reports back to Nermin. Kenan must make a detour from his usual route because of the sniper watching the intersection. Dragan see’s an old friend Emina on the street and they talk about the war and what is happening. Nermin tells Arrow that he can no longer protect her and that she should flee Sarajevo, a short while later Nermin’s office explodes and he is killed. Kenan finally makes it to the brewery and begins filling up his water jugs. Emina tries crossing the intersection and is shot in the arm and a man in a hat is shot dead in the middle of the street. After the death of Arrow’s commander, she is reassigned under the control of Colonel Karaman and stiped of the ability to choose her own targets.
While filling up his water jugs, Kenan is knocked to the ground by the explosion of a mortar shell. Dragan see’s a man filming the intersection and decides that his Sarajevo will not have bodies lying in the street and begins dragging the now hatless man to shelter. Arrow quits the Corps and is hunted by Karaman’s men but still finishes protecting The Cellist and feels her humanity and love for the city return to her. Kenan returns home with his water jugs, 4 days later he goes out on another run but feels optimistic about the future. Dragan decides that he will not give into the war-torn Sarajevo by running, and walks across the intersection without being shot, and decides to see The Cellist on the last of the 22 days.
Theme In Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo, multiple themes are present, but I believe that the most important one is hope. Before the bombing in the marketplace, The Cellist played his cello until his hope returned. On days where he had difficulty feeling his hope, he would play Albinoni’s Adagio, saying that it got harder to play it each time, comparing the Adagio to a precious currency that should not be foolishly wasted. After the bombing, he played Albinoni’s Adagio for 22 days, a day for each victim. His goal was to commemorate the victims as well as to give hope to the people of Sarajevo through the way he found hope on the toughest days. He sat in the middle of the street, exposed to sniper fire and mortar strikes to give the people hope for a better Sarajevo, to look past the apocalyptic landscape. While most people in developed nations have never experienced the horror or misery of a war, they can relate the theme of hope to their lives. When the situation changes into something less favorable that is beyond your control, for example, the weather turns from a bright and shiny day to a horrendous storm, you can have hope that it will pass and the future will be brighter. Evaluation
I found the book to be an interesting read. The author thoroughly did his research to create a realistic setting and piecing together stories from witnesses. Galloway created the main storyline using The Cellist and intertwined three other narratives indirectly to give the perspective of different people, in different situations, living in the same setting. I felt that the novel was a very compelling read that gave its readers a sense of the horror and misery that the characters were living in but also the hope that their situation would change for the better. I felt that all the main characters were very realistic and relatable, having different perspectives and personalities that would be more relatable to certain people. I would not change anything written in the book, I found all of its content to be extremely interesting as well as gripping. In conclusion, I found the book to be very compelling and would highly recommend it to other students.
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The Cellist of Sarajevo Book ReportSetting The Cellist of Sarajevo, a novel written by Steven Galloway is set in the city of Sarajevo, during the Bosnian war in the 1990’s. […]