Each of the characters in Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo has a distinct personality. Their individual attitudes decide what actions each of them will take, how they respond to the violence around them, and how they finally move on with their lives.
Dragan struggles with the reality of the city that has long been his home. While lucky to have a job and know his family is safe abroad, Dragan cannot walk the streets without fear. He has taken to pretending not to see old acquaintances, not knowing from one minute to the next whether or not they will be shot by a sniper. Whenever he crosses the street, he waits behind a concrete wall until it feels like the right time to cross. He is constantly afraid of dying, of being shot, and fixates on this idea.
It is Emina's courage, finally, that changes Dragan's attitude. He comes to realize that the city of the past can still be there, inside him:
He begins to understand why he isn't running. If he doesn't run, then he's alive again. The Sarajevo he wants to live in is alive again. (224)
For Dragan, this change in attitude is dramatic. It comes as a result of others' brave responses to the danger present—and his desire to be more like them.
Arrow has chosen to completely ignore the woman she had been before the war in order to do what needs to be done as a sniper. Now, she accepts no other name besides "Arrow" and will not answer to the name she had before. She does not hate anyone and is not a fanatic. Instead, she works as a sniper because it is a talent she has, and because it's a way to fight back, little by little, against the people who have taken the city away from her.
A poignant quote from the very first chapter of the book illustrates this attitude perfectly:
It's a rare gift to understand that your life in wondrous, and that it won't last forever. So when Arrow pulls the trigger and ends the life of one of the soldiers in her sights, she'll do so not because she wants him dead, although she can't deny that she does, but because the soldiers have robbed her and almost everyone else in the city of this gift. (5)
Because she refuses hate, and because she has recognized this fleeting gift of life, Arrow is unperturbed when things go awry and she has to go into hiding. Even the thought of death leaves her relatively detached. Instead, she is able to appreciate the beauty of the life she has experienced, particularly as she has come to appreciate it through the music of the cellist she protected. When death comes for her, Arrow is not afraid. Instead, defiant and calm, she claims her true name.
Kenan is a man who keeps his promises. He is committed to his family, to providing them with enough water to drink and letting his children keep their innocence as much as possible. Although it is a huge inconvenience to him, he also gathers water for his disagreeable neighbor, Mrs. Ristovski. He doesn't want to carry her bottles, but he does because of a promise he made at the beginning of the war and because he wants to be a good person:
But he could not refuse her. No person he would want to be would do that. (21)
Kenan's sense of goodness and the value of his word are tested every time he goes for water. On one particularly terrifying trip, he almost gives up on Mrs. Ristovski's bottles. However, the music of the cellist reminds him of the world he wants to believe in—and the person he wants to be. By the end of the book, despite the danger and annoyance, he stays true to his promise and knocks on his neighbor's door before going out for water again.
Emina is not a major character in the book, but she is quite an important one, as her actions are what change Dragan's attitude so dramatically. When we meet her, she is waiting to cross the infamous "Sniper Alley" and starts up a conversation with Dragan. We learn that Emina has spent much of her time bringing help and joy to others. She is on her way to deliver medicine to someone in need. Then she tells a story of a woman she met who had a beautiful cherry tree, full of fruit. When Emina had extra salt, she brought it to the woman, who was delighted with the gift and gave her cherries in exchange.
Dragan commented on how good she was to have given the salt. Then Emina says,
I didn't need it. She didn't have to give me the cherries either. Isn't that how we're supposed to behave? Isn't that how we used to be?
Emina lives by those words—and almost dies by them when she is hit by the sniper. As a result of her bravery and kindness, though, something perhaps even more important happens, as we see with Dragan's transformation.