There is a man named Claude Levitte—nicknamed Big Claude—who lives just outside of Saint-Malo. He’s an enterprising man, and always looking for a way to make money. Lately, he’s noticed a mysterious man from Paris—a new arrival in Saint-Malo—staying at the home of Etienne LeBlanc. The man spends his days walking through the streets, making detailed drawings of the buildings. He sometimes carries pieces of wood and whittles them for hours while sitting outside the telegraph office. Claude decides that he could make money by reporting this suspicious person to the Germans.
In this passage full of dramatic (and tragic) irony, we recognize that Marie-Laure’s father is preparing to build her another model of the city, just like the one he made in Paris. But although we know this, we also recognize that from Claude’s perspective, Marie-Laure’s father could be a spy for the French Resistance, trying to record information about the city. While some French people opposed the Nazis in whatever way they could, there were also many who went so far as to actively work alongside their oppressors, reporting on their peers for money or favors. Claude is clearly one of these collaborators.