Summary and Analysis
PART FIVE: January 1941 “No Out” to “The Frog Cooks”
Werner asks Hauptmann to send him home, but Hauptmann refuses angrily, saying Werner thinks too highly of himself and will no longer receive special treatment. Werner’s experience of Schulpforta seems “poisoned”: Supplies become scarce, and many of the boys receive word that their fathers have died in battle. Hauptmann is summoned to work in Berlin.
Hubert Bazin disappears, and Madame Manec and her friends wonder if the Nazis have discovered he is a resistance fighter. Policemen come to Etienne’s house to report what has happened to Marie-Laure’s father. While searching the house for something Maure-Laure’s father might have left behind, the policemen find three forbidden French flags and warn Etienne that he may be arrested if the Germans find them. After the police leave, Etienne burns the flags and forbids Madame Manec from using his house for her resistance work or involving Marie-Laure. Madame Manec continues her resistance efforts elsewhere, spending less time at home.
When Hauptmann refuses to allow Werner to leave Schulpforta, Werner realizes just how much he has lost control over the course of his life. Werner now has only two choices: to continue doing what he is told, or to refuse like Frederick and be punished accordingly. In a heavily censored letter to Jutta, Werner writes that Frederick believed there is no such thing as free will. Nearly the entire letter is blacked out until the phrase, “I hope someday you can understand.” Werner seems to be explaining how he has no control over his decision to do the Reich’s bidding, a message that the mail censors have deemed unpatriotic and therefore dangerous.
Marie-Laure’s observations of Madame Manec and Etienne illustrate the power of fear to keep people from taking control of their lives. Etienne’s fear of being arrested leads him to passively support the occupying Germans by hindering the resistance effort. Madame Manec argues that the slow onset of German oppression has made Etienne blind to its danger. She compares the French to a frog in a pot of water slowly raised to a boil: Because the frog doesn’t notice the temperature change, it doesn’t try to jump out of the pot and dies in the boiling water.