Summary and Analysis
PART NINE: May 1944 “Nothing” to “Leaflets”
While von Rumpel stands outside of the grotto, Marie-Laure breaks open the loaf of bread she is carrying and swallows the paper inside. Von Rumpel asks Marie-Laure what her father left her, and she responds that he only left her the model of the town and “a broken promise.” Von Rumpel leaves, and Etienne and Madame Ruelle find her. Von Rumpel’s questions prompt Marie-Laure to discover the Sea of Flames diamond hidden inside her father’s model of Etienne’s house. Madame Ruelle asks Etienne to chart the locations of German anti-aircraft guns and broadcast them for the Allies. He goes outside during curfew to do so and is arrested. Claude Levitte comes to tell Marie-Laure that Etienne has sent him to help her evacuate. Marie-Laure refuses to go with Levitte.
Werner can’t stop thinking about Marie-Laure and is determined to save her, but he worries his lies about not hearing the rebel broadcasts will be discovered. Neumann One and Neumann Two are called to the front, leaving only Werner, Volkheimer, and Bernd in Saint-Malo. The night the bombing begins, Werner sees an Allied plane dropping fliers that warn the inhabitants of Saint-Malo to evacuate.
The novel’s most obvious example of worlds within worlds is the model of Etienne’s house carved by Marie-Laure’s father. Her father’s mysterious words, “Look inside Etienne’s house, inside the house,” call attention to this worlds-within-worlds theme. By reflecting on these words and on her conversation with von Rumpel, Marie-Laure finally finds the Sea of Flames diamond. Her deliberation over what to do with the stone also reflects worlds within worlds. She attempts to convince herself that curses are not real, that the Earth is nothing by physical matter, but then she questions her own assumptions by asking, “Isn’t it?” The possibility that there might be an otherworldly, supernatural power within the physical world she knows creates the possibility of another world within a world.
Werner also experiences one world inside another through his obsession with Marie-Laure. She “takes up residence inside him” alongside the image of the Viennese girl whose death he accidentally caused. These haunting presences demonstrate the power of the intangible: Even though the two girls are not physically with Werner, they impact him as if they were.
“Leaflets,” the final section of this part, describes leaflets falling from the sky, the very same scene that begins the novel. The novel’s two timelines finally have come together.