Summary and Analysis
PART EIGHT: 9 August 1944
Allied artillery begins shelling Saint-Malo again. Marie-Laure uses the explosions to disguise her own noise as she opens a can of food. Von Rumpel, who is becoming delirious from his illness, goes downstairs to search the house one more time, and Marie-Laure emerges from the attic to get water. She finds her Braille copy of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and brings it with her into the attic. She decides to broadcast herself reading aloud from the book, enchanted by the thought that someone, maybe even Etienne, will hear her and feel hope.
Werner continues scanning the radio but hears only static. He and Volkheimer wistfully discuss how eager they once were to leave their homes. Unexpectedly, Werner hears Marie-Laure’s voice reading aloud on the radio. Suddenly she stops reading and whispers, “He is here. He is right below me.” The broadcast ends. Werner wants to help her, but he can’t.
This part opens with a description of a misfired Allied artillery shell killing nine French civilians. The scene is inessential to the plot, but it calls attention to the senseless killing of war. The Allies, like the Germans, are killing civilians in their desperation to win the war. As Werner hears artillery shells shaking the ground around him, he reflects on how the Allied artillerymen must have received training similar to his training from Hauptmann: “Only numbers. Pure math…It’s the same on their side too.” Each side, Werner realizes, will go to any lengths to win, and the “rightness” of one side or the other appears to be just a matter of perspective.