Summary and Analysis Chapter 12

 

Summary

Vianne wakes up early and catches Isabelle returning from delivering tracts. She accuses Isabelle of meeting a boy. That day at school, Vianne’s fears about the list she made for Beck are realized when everyone on the list is fired from their teaching job. Vianne goes to Beck’s office to ask him to overturn the decision, but he says he can’t. Vianne confesses first to Mother Superior Marie-Therese and then to Rachel that she made the list that got Rachel fired. Rachel is angry but forgives her.

Isabelle steals a German bicycle and takes it to her resistance friend Henri Navarre, who, for a kiss, agrees to paint it so it won’t look stolen. Isabelle kisses him, enjoying the feeling of being desired by someone.

Analysis

Even though Vianne wants to believe Beck when he tells her that the list she compiled is purely clerical, a part of her knows that it has a more ominous purpose, which is why she feels so anxious in the following weeks. Her guilt becomes far worse once Rachel and the other teachers are fired; Vianne feels she should have known all along not to trust Beck. However, because Beck claims that he, too, thought the list was just clerical, Vianne continues to struggle with how sincere he is.

Isabelle, whose identity was largely based on her physical beauty before the war, finds herself thinking differently about love and desire within war. Although she enjoys being desired by Henri and kissing him, the moment feels shallow to her. She seems to sense that love in wartime must be based on something deeper than mere physical attraction.

 
 
 
 
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