Summary and Analysis Chapter 27



Vianne and Gaëtan bring Isabelle to the border, where Gaëtan smuggles her across in a coffin by pretending to be her widowed husband. Gaëtan kisses Isabelle while she is delirious during her recovery.

When the Gestapo begins looking for Beck, Vianne lies, saying he went searching for the missing pilot. Her interrogator, Von Richter, shows inappropriate interest in her body. At the end of the interrogation, he announces that he will be moving into Vianne’s home in place of Beck. On her way home, Vianne watches as a Jewish woman and her son are arrested to be sent to a concentration camp. Vianne tries but fails to save the child. She barely has time to warn her children that Von Richter is coming before he arrives.


Vianne’s conversation with Gaëtan as they take Isabelle to the border focuses on the darker side of love in war. When Vianne begs Gaëtan not to hurt Isabelle and asks if he loves her, Gaëtan assures her that he does. When Vianne asks if Isabelle knows, Gaëtan answers, “I hope not.” In peacetime, Gaëtan’s love might be sufficient proof that he will not hurt Isabelle, but the opposite is true in war: Gaëtan believes that if Isabelle knows he loves her, she will be in greater danger of being hurt. Love in war appears to be paradoxical, causing people to hurt the very ones they want most to protect.

Vianne’s interactions with Von Richter make her feel even more ashamed about Beck’s death. Whereas Beck was kind and gentlemanly, Von Richter is not, and Von Richter reminds Vianne anew of just how exceptional Beck was as an “enemy.”

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