Summary and Analysis
The German guards at Isabelle’s concentration camp leave suddenly, and a group of American soldiers arrives to free the camp.
Looking for Isabelle, Vianne and Sophie go to a hotel where concentration camp survivors have begun returning to. Vianne gives a Red Cross worker the list of the nineteen Jewish children whose lives she has saved, hoping to find their families. Later that spring, two men arrive to take Ari away. Although his parents are dead, he has Jewish relatives in Boston who want him to live with them. Vianne insists that Ari should stay with her because he believes she is his mother; the men insist that Ari must be raised as a Jew because so many Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Vianne has only a few minutes to explain the truth to Ari before he is taken away by the two men, still screaming for his “mother” Vianne.
Although Vianne chose to adopt Ari and love him as his mother, war has made this kind of love complicated. Once she learns that Rachel has died, Vianne wants to keep Ari with her, knowing she is the only mother he can remember. Ari, who has no memory of the time before his name was Daniel, wants to stay with Vianne as well, so it seems like a tragedy that he will be forced to live overseas with relatives he has never met.
For the Jewish men who come to take Ari away, however, Ari and Vianne’s individual love for each other is less important than the survival of the Jewish people and their culture. With millions of Jews dead in the Holocaust, it has become more necessary than ever that Jewish boys like Ari retain their Jewish heritage. Thus, the war’s devastation disrupts the normal rules of family love.