Summary and Analysis Chapter 17

 

Summary

One of Vianne’s teaching colleagues, Monsieur Paretsky, is arrested for distributing an anti-German newspaper. Vianne speaks out against his arrest and is fired from her teaching job. When she returns home, Beck informs her he is leaving to visit his family in Germany. He offers her a glass of wine and calls her beautiful.

Isabelle has reopened her father’s bookshop. Most of her customers are young German officers; she flirts with them to improve her cover. One day on her way home, Isabelle sees an RAF pilot crouching in the shadows and tells him to follow her. She hides him in her father’s apartment and throws his flight suit and dog tags in the river. When her father gets home, he hears a noise and searches for an intruder but finds no one.

Analysis

Whereas Vianne felt guilty in the previous chapter for failing to speak out when the Fourniers’ butcher shop was taken from them, she now feels guilty for having spoken up for Monsieur Paretsky: She has lost her job, but she did nothing to help him. For Vianne, the ethics of this decision are difficult to navigate. Speaking up seems like the nobler option, yet it has made her life harder without doing anything productive for Monsieur Paretsky; she and Sophie now have no source of income.

Isabelle, too, must wrestle with the implications of her boldness. Although it is brashness that earned her a role in the French resistance, her contacts have begged her to be cautious and follow orders—otherwise, she risks their lives. Rescuing the RAF pilot is an impetuous and dangerous thing to do. Still, she does it because it seems right regardless of danger or consequences.

 
 
 
 
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