Summary and Analysis Chapter 35

 

Summary

Von Richter repeatedly and violently rapes Vianne. Sophie notices her mother’s bruises and guesses the truth, asking Vianne why she doesn’t kill him in his sleep. Vianne begins having morning sickness and realizes she is pregnant with Von Richter’s child.

The Germans, nearing defeat in the war, pull out of France. As Von Richter leaves, he calls Vianne his “whore” and tells her that although he will forget her, she will not forget him. Antoine, Vianne’s husband, returns home, and Vianne can’t bear to admit that she is pregnant with Von Richter’s child. Instead, she waits for a few months, then lies and claims the baby is Antoine’s, conceived on his first night home. An unspoken tension exists between the two of them; they feel like strangers to each other.

Analysis

Just as Julien exhibited the power of parental love in the last chapter, Vianne demonstrates it in this chapter in her conversation with Sophie. Sophie doesn’t understand how Vianne can submit to Von Richter’s rape. Vianne says she is doing it to keep Sophie and Ari safe, something that Sophie won’t be able to understand until she is a mother herself. Micheline spoke almost identical words to Isabelle in the previous chapter as they traveled to Ravensbrück, saying Isabelle would understand Julien’s decision to sacrifice himself once she became a mother. Wartime pushes parental love to its limits, showing just how far a mother or father will go to protect a child.

Another theme in this chapter is the conflict between forgetting and remembering. Vianne and Antoine feel distant from each other, and Antoine thinks that the solution is to remember who they were before the war. Vianne remains focused on forgetting the horrors of war, especially her rape and her unborn child’s biological father.

 
 
 
 
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