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The Theme of Destiny in The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

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Destiny is something to which a person or thing is destined. Destiny implies that there is some power which acts or determines the course of events beforehand. Some people might think that their destiny is already set out for them. However, destiny is something that we as individuals make for ourselves. It sometimes affects the decisions we make as human beings that give us an idea of what our destiny is. Steven Galloway explores the idea of how the role of kindness plays when an individual attempt to determine their own destinies in his novel, The Cellist Of Sarajevo. In his novel, he describes that the choices in life we make are based on the situations that took place at that time. This is portrayed in the character, Arrow a female sniper. Arrow nearly loses sight of her own true self-identity due to the results of being forced to assume the role of a killer underneath the pressure of the ruling forces. However, she is given the task of looking after the Cellist for 28 days. The power of cellist’s music makes her think about her life.

Arrow was living her life as any normal girl would be living at that age before the war. When Arrow was in university she was a skilled member of her university’s target shooting team. She was chosen by the city’s rebel unit to defend Sarajevo from the enemy soldiers. So as to endure her newly-enforced role as an assassin, the young woman, Alisa, changes her name to “Arrow”. Arrow might have thought that this could be because this is what her fate was. However, everyone’s fate is in their hands and how to want it is your choice. She hated the men on the hill because they were killing her people, Arrows says “To hate people because they hated her first, and then to hate them because of what they’ve done to her, has created a desire to separate the part of her that will fight back, that will enjoy fighting back, from the part that never wanted to fight in the first place.” As reading the novel it shows that Arrow never wished to become a sniper, she chose to become one once she saw simply how the actions of the men on the hills were affecting her city. She could have just left how everything was and have the other assassins deal with it. Nevertheless, she took it as her responsibility to protect her country. Arrow made her destiny on her own when she made the decision in protecting her city. At the end of the novel, Arow says this “She closes her eyes, recalls the notes she heard only yesterday, a melody that is no longer there but feels very close. Her lips move, and a moment before the door splinters off its hinges she says, her voice strong and quiet, ‘My name is Alisa.’ This shows how she was tired of acting like she was Arrow, not Alisa and when she’s about to die she realizes that the whole time she was Alisa. Even though she tried to leave her real identity but the truth is it was with her the whole time.

We can also see a little bit of Alisa when she is given the task to look after the cellist for 28 days. While she is protecting the cellist she starts listening to his music that helps her think about her life and what it became. While she listens to the cellist play she thinks that “The men on the hills didn’t have to be murdered. The men in the city didn’t have to lower themselves to fight their attackers. She didn’t have to be filled with hatred. The music demanded that she remember this, that she knows to certain that the world still held the capacity for goodness. The notes were proof that.” this quotation shows how Arrow is impacted by the cellist’s music on the last day. Music is an important part of the novel because it gives hope to the people of Sarajevo. Arrow realizes that the war isn’t content with the way the war is peeling her innocence from her.

Galloway once more deliberately invokes the tragedy of World War II as a reminder that violent periods in history ought to teach the planet to avoid such violence within the future. Arrow, following within the footsteps of these fighters rather than avoiding their mistakes, splits her identity in two. By making a brand new persona, she leaves behind her recent humanity and creates a being who is capable of immense hate and violence. This split life suggests that Galloway sees hate because of the enemy of human feeling and life.

In conclusion, Destiny shows how we ourselves make it not that fate has it set out for us. Like how Galloway shows in his novel with the character Arrow, she creates her destiny from her own hands. Like for example, doing good in school and getting a good job after school is your hard work. But not wanting to go to school and became homeless and blaming your destiny doesn’t make sense. You yourself decide whether how to write your destiny. In this text, Arrow does show that she attempted to make her own destiny. 

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The Theme Of Destiny In The Cellist Of Sarajevo By Steven Galloway. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 2, 2022, from
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