Summary and Analysis
As the war nears its end in the spring of 1945, Isabelle and Micheline try to stay alive in Ravensbrück, hoping that they will soon be rescued. Because of the brutal conditions of the camp, Isabelle develops a fever and begins coughing up blood. The Germans decide to transport all of the women to another camp; many of them die along the way.
When Isabelle arrives at the new camp, she hears another prisoner call her “Juliette.” She realizes that her old friend Anouk has also been arrested and imprisoned there. From Anouk, Isabelle learns that the rest of their resistance group was arrested, including Gaëtan.
Although the knowledge that the end of war is coming should be hopeful news, Isabelle’s primary attitude in the camp is not a hopeful one. Instead, the unbearable physical realities of the concentration camp strip Isabelle of the idealism and optimism she had earlier in the war. Now, she feels like a completely different person; her present horrors have overwhelmed any thoughts of a hopeful future.
Not only does the camp strip Isabelle of her optimism, but it also limits her ability to feel compassion for others. Having witnessed the death of so many around her, Isabelle can no longer feel as passionate about saving lives as she once did. When she sees her friend Anouk, she can’t even bear to say good-bye as they part because she is “so, so tired of good-byes.”