In a hotel in the city of Saint-Malo, Madame Manec and Marie-Laure sit with a man named René. He claims that he’s taken notice of Manec’s maneuvers against the Germans. Marie-Laure listens to René speak with Manec, but senses that he’s mouthing things and making gestures that she can’t understand.
Marie-Laure can tell that Madame Manec is becoming involved in more serious French Resistance efforts. Manec’s courage goes beyond small, everyday rebellious actions—she is now truly risking her life for her cause.
Manec and Marie-Laure go back to their home. Manec suggests that she and Marie-Laure need pseudonyms for their new “work.” Marie-Laure suggests a pseudonym for herself: “the Whelk.” Manec laughs and gives herself a name: “the Blade.”
By choosing a name for herself, Marie-Laure is announcing her role in the French Resistance: an act of considerable bravery for someone so young. It’s also no coincidence that Marie-Laure chooses the name of a shell for herself. She’s always been interested in mollusks for both their fragile beauty and their patient resilience, and she seems to especially admire the slow process and self-sufficient safety of the whelk.