Summary and Analysis
PART TWELVE: 1974
Years later, Volkheimer receives a letter from an organization trying to return dead soldiers’ belongings to next of kin: The organization has found Werner’s belongings, including a wooden model of a house. Volkheimer delivers the items to Jutta and tells her of his final memories of Werner, including his belief that Werner fell in love in Saint-Malo. Jutta takes a trip to Saint-Malo with her son, Max, to learn about Werner’s last days alive. A local man recognizes the model house as a replica of Etienne’s house. He agrees to look for the address of the girl who used to live there and give it to Jutta.
Jutta goes to Paris to meet Marie-Laure, who now works at the same museum where her father used to work. Jutta tells Marie-Laure that Werner died and gives her the model house. Marie-Laure realizes that Werner must have retrieved it from the grotto after they parted ways. When she opens it, she finds the key to the grotto gate. She wonders what he did with the Sea of Flames diamond; although she can’t know it, he left it in the grotto.
This part challenges the generally accepted assumption that all those who fought for Nazi Germany were evil. Marie-Laure’s memory of Werner provides one such challenge when she remembers that his “soul glowed with some fundamental goodness.” Werner, she observes, didn’t fit the stereotypes of the war. The simplistic view of German evil is problematic in other ways as well. For example, many of those who fought as Nazi soldiers were too young to make well-informed decisions; as Volkheimer notes, Werner and many others were just boys. In addition, the assumption that all Germans were responsible for the war leads to the mistreatment of those like Jutta, who worries that the Frenchman beside her on the train to Saint-Malo will blame her for his injuries. Although Jutta was in fact opposed to the war, she found herself forced to passively support it because of her age and status.