Von Rumpel goes to see a doctor, who tells him that his throat tumor has grown so serious that he has no more than three or four months to live. Shortly afterwards, von Rumpel receives a call from a man named Jean Brignon. Brignon had previously agreed to tell von Rumpel about Daniel Leblanc, on the condition that von Rumpel help Jean Brignon’s cousin. Brignon now tells von Rumpel that LeBlanc was arrested after trying to leave Saint-Malo. Police officers noted that LeBlanc had been making detailed drawings of the city. Jean has learned this information from a man named Claude Levitte. Von Rumpel considers this information. He wonders why LeBlanc would leave Saint-Malo: perhaps he had something valuable to take with him. Von Rumpel hangs up the phone without discussing Brignon’s cousin.
At the beginning of the story, von Rumpel seemed like little more than a comic-book villain. By now he’s a more complicated character, with his own sympathetic motives, but he still entirely plays the role of the villain in his quest for the Sea of Flames. Here, von Rumpel cruelly ignores his informant, dispensing with him as soon as he’s acquired the information he needs. He’s heartless, and seems to have almost no respect for other people.
As the war drags on, Saint-Malo falls into disarray. There are always airplanes flying over the city. One day, Etienne goes to Madame Ruelle’s bakery. There, Ruelle tells him that the resistance needs the locations of German guns and military outposts. Etienne says that the only way to determine these locations would be by walking through the city with a pencil and paper—an obvious crime for which he’d be shot. Nevertheless, Ruelle insists that Etienne must determine the gun locations tonight—tomorrow, the Germans will be imprisoning everyone who could be a member of the resistance in the Fort National. Reluctantly, Etienne agrees to help.
Etienne faces a moral challenge that’s almost as difficult as the one Werner faced in the German army: he has to decide between fighting the Germans and protecting Marie-Laure. Reluctantly, he agrees to fight the Germans, despite knowing that broadcasting gun locations could lead to his arrest or death, thus leaving Marie-Laure alone and in a great deal of danger. But perhaps Etienne’s decision reflects his respect for Marie-Laure’s independence—and what he knows Marie-Laure herself would want him to do.