Summary and Analysis Chapter 26

 

Summary

The story leaps forward to 1995 in Oregon. The elderly woman inspects her invitation, which is to a reunion the next night in Paris celebrating the work of Juliette Gervaise. She receives a phone call from someone speaking French, asking if she will be coming to the reunion. She says that people don’t want to see her but Juliette, and Juliette “hasn’t existed for a long time.” When the caller insists that many people will want to see her, she hangs up. However, she spontaneously decides to go. She books a last-minute flight to Paris and leaves a message on her son’s phone explaining where she has gone.

Analysis

Even though the elderly woman (who is later revealed to be Vianne) tells her caller that people want to see Juliette rather than her, the wording leaves her identity a mystery. Perhaps the woman is in fact not Isabelle, as later turns out to be the case, and so she is saying that Isabelle is gone. On the other hand, perhaps she is Isabelle, and she has tried to separate herself from the war so much that she feels Juliette no longer exists. The chapter carefully leaves this question unanswered.

When the woman calls her son, she thinks of how her message will upset him because “I have let him think I am weak, all these years.” Although this woman has passed herself off to her child as a timid and unremarkable person, she has clearly done bold things in the past, which both Isabelle and Vianne are doing increasingly during the war.

 
 
 
 
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