Summary and Analysis
PART THREE: June 1940 “Château” to “You Have Been Called”
Two days after leaving Paris, Marie-Laure and her father reach the town of Evreux. They are supposed to meet François Giannot, a friend of the museum director who will take the Sea of Flames diamond. When they arrive, however, they learn that Giannot has fled to London. They break into a barn and spend the night there. The next day they travel to Saint-Malo, where Etienne lives. They are met by his housekeeper, Madame Manec, who welcomes them.
Werner goes to an entrance exam for the Nazi schools, which involves eight days of rigorous physical and academic testing. On the last day, the boys are required to jump from a high platform onto a flag held by the other boys. After watching other boys injure themselves, Werner makes the jump perfectly and shouts, “Heil Hitler.” He is accepted to a Nazi school at Schulpforta, and his neighbors all congratulate him for doing his duty to his country. Only Jutta is angry and won’t speak to him.
The National Political Institute of Education (the formal name of the Nazi school system Werner enters) is known for its brutality. Boys are expected to sacrifice everything human about themselves, becoming fully committed to Hitler and Nazi Germany. Werner’s medical exam, which entails the inspection of his hair and eye color and the measurement of his various body parts, exemplifies the Nazis’ belief in the biological superiority of the Aryan race.
Werner’s experience at the entrance exam foreshadows what his time at Schulpforta will be like. He feels overwhelmed and afraid, unsettled as he sees others who are abused by the Nazi system. But he is also desperate to succeed and escape the coal mines for which everyone tells him he is fated. By yelling “Heil Hitler” after making the dangerous jump, Werner proves that he is willing to make himself into whatever the Nazis want him to be in order to succeed.
In stark contrast to Werner’s loneliness and his belief that he must fight for his own future, Marie-Laure is well cared for. Her father carries her when she is tired and tries to cheer her up by pretending the barn they sleep in is a hotel. When they arrive at Etienne’s house, Madame Manec spoils her with food. However, the tone is still ominous, creating the sense that her good fortune can’t last forever.