Summary and Analysis Chapter 33

 

Summary

The Nazis interrogate and torture Isabelle. They ask her who the Nightingale is, assuming the Nightingale is a man and not realizing they have already caught the secret operative. When she refuses to tell them anything, they lock her in a refrigerator.

In desperation, the Germans begin displaying the bodies of dead resistance fighters to frighten the French people, and Vianne sees the bodies on display in Carriveau. Her father comes to visit, and they meet in Rachel’s vacant house to avoid Von Richter. Julien tells Vianne that Isabelle has been captured. He hints that he is going to rescue her no matter what it takes, leaving a farewell note for Vianne and Isabelle.

Von Richter realizes that Ari (“Daniel”) is not Vianne’s biological son. She lies, claiming he is her nephew. He tells her she may only keep the boy if she has sex with him and then violently rapes her.

Analysis

In the novel’s exploration of love in the context of warfare, Von Richter’s rape provides a distressing example of what love is not. Although Von Richter tries to create the pretense of intimacy by asking for Vianne’s “permission” for his advances and demanding that she look at him while he rapes her, there is absolutely nothing intimate about their interaction.

In contrast, the war gives Julien a new opportunity to show his fatherly love for Isabelle. Although Julien tells Vianne that it is too late for him to show Isabelle that he loves her, he has planned to rescue her by sacrificing his own life to try to save hers. He has never been successful in expressing his love for Isabelle in words, but the war provides him with an opportunity to show incredible love through his actions.

 
 
 
 
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