Summary and Analysis
Isabelle assumes a false identity as Juliette Gervaise, codenamed the Nightingale, to lead four Allied airmen to Spain. They travel by train to the edge of the mountains; there, Isabelle asks a woman named Micheline Babineau if she can find a guide to lead them across the Pyrenees. A man named Eduardo bursts in, pretending to be a threat; when Isabelle holds up under his questioning, he reveals that he is the guide who will help them.
Led by Eduardo, Isabelle and the four airmen make it across the mountains, enduring grueling hunger and freezing rain. They cross into Spain on a flimsy rope bridge that traverses a deep gorge, avoiding the searchlights of a Spanish sentry outpost. Finally, they reach the British consulate, where Isabelle asks the British to provide money so that more airmen can be brought safely out of France.
Isabelle’s gender is now an incredible source of advantage. The day Isabelle leaves to guide the airmen to Spain, she sees a notice threatening death to any man found aiding Allied airmen; any woman who aids airmen will instead be sent to a concentration camp. The message assumes that men are a greater threat in wartime and therefore deserve more stringent punishments than women. Isabelle wryly thinks that she is lucky to be a woman. On the train to the Pyrenees, Isabelle is able to draw attention away from the airmen by flirting with German officers, something she can do easily as a beautiful young woman.
When Isabelle and the airmen reach the British consulate, her gender makes her seem more remarkable. The man at the consulate is shocked to learn that she is a woman, asking, “Will wonders never cease?” Yet Isabelle sees herself simply as someone fighting for the resistance—just like her male colleagues.