Werner and the soldiers search through Saint-Malo for the radio signal. One night, while it’s raining, Werner hears an enemy signal, making a broadcast about the troops. To his amazement, the broadcast is the same one he listened to as a child: the Frenchman’s voice sounds almost the same, and he can remember the classical music playing in the background. Werner remembers in perfect detail the piano piece that now plays in his earpiece. Frantically, he looks around—no one else has noticed the sudden look of excitement on his face. After a few minutes, Volkheimer asks Werner if he’s found anything. Werner hesitates, then says that he’s found nothing.
In this crucial scene, Werner makes the choice to actively disobey orders—seemingly for the first time in the entire novel. Although Werner chooses to do so in part because he’s nostalgic—struck by the Frenchman’s voice from his childhood (whom we recognize as Etienne LeBlanc, whose voice apparently sounds like his brother Henri’s)—his decision also comes fast on the heels of his disillusionment with the German army, and his revitalization in the town of Saint-Malo. It seems Werner is finally “opening his eyes” and trying to do something about what he sees.