Summary and Analysis
When Gaëtan and Isabelle wake the following morning, Gaëtan explains that he had been imprisoned for theft. He insists that someone like Isabelle wouldn’t understand, but Isabelle maintains that more than one kind of prison exists.
As they travel toward Carriveau, they meet a regiment of French soldiers fleeing the war front. Isabelle yells that they are going the wrong way, and Gaëtan holds a knife to one soldier’s throat, asking who is fighting for France. “No one,” the soldier answers, but Isabelle responds, “We will be.”
Disheartened by the encounter, they continue to travel amid the crowd of refugees. Suddenly German planes swoop overhead, dropping bombs and gunning down the defenseless refugees. Isabelle and Gaëtan take shelter in a church, but even the church is bombed.
Both Gaëtan and Isabelle claim to know about the trials of real life. Gaëtan has been in prison and thinks he knows what war will be like. Isabelle compares her own life to a prison as well, asserting she knows just as much about suffering in her own way.
Neither of them, however, is prepared for the realities of war that they witness in this chapter. The sight of the fleeing French soldiers shocks them; they can’t understand why men with the opportunity to fight would refuse to do so. Gaëtan is visibly shaken by the encounter, no longer smiling or speaking to Isabelle as they travel.
Still worse is the German slaughter of the refugees. When Isabelle first hears the planes, she can’t imagine that they might be coming for a group of helpless civilians. Later, surrounded by the wounded and dying, she realizes that she can’t help them. Both her visions of and aspirations to heroism fail her.