Summary and Analysis
As Isabelle and Gaëtan travel together to rejoin the war effort, they pass a roadblock. There, a German soldier informs them that the Nazis are taking over the Free Zone, where the French government had been in control, making Isabelle’s work more dangerous. Isabelle and Gaëtan spend one last night together.
Vianne asks Isabelle’s resistance friend Henri for forged identity papers. He agrees to give her blank papers that she can forge herself. He bakes them inside a loaf of bread, which she is carrying home in her basket when she meets Von Richter. He briefly carries her basket for her. Vianne lies, saying she is sick, which causes Von Richter to leave suddenly so she can take the papers home and forge them.
Isabelle and Gaëtan’s love for each other is both more intense and more painful because they know it might be brief. Their passionate lovemaking turns out to be foreshadowing: This is indeed their last time making love before Isabelle’s eventual death.
In taking risks for the resistance, Vianne seems to be becoming more like her sister. When Henri compares the two of them, Vianne objects that she is not a brave woman. However, even if Vianne doesn’t feel brave, her actions still suggest bravery. Is bravery a state of mind, the novel asks, or is it a choice to act on one’s convictions despite fear?
The scene of Von Richter carrying Vianne’s basket echoes the much earlier scene of Beck carrying Isabelle’s basket of resistance tracts. In both cases, chivalry becomes a source of danger for the woman receiving it. However, whereas Beck seemed truly kind, Von Richter is not.