Paris is in a state of chaos. People pack their possessions, trying to flee the city before it’s too late. Marie-Laure sits at home, trying to concentrate on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Suddenly, Marie-Laure’s father comes home from the museum and tells her that they need to leave, quickly. He tells her to leave her book behind.
Marie-Laure’s father tells Marie-Laure that she has to leave behind her old books—essentially, her old life in Paris. This is a painful passage because Marie-Laure had worked so hard and accomplished so much, and now is forced to leave it all behind because of forces beyond her control.
Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father quickly walk through the streets of Paris. Marie-Laure counts her steps, carefully keeping track of where they’re headed. She thinks that she can feel sandbags with her cane. Her father tells her that they’re headed for the trains, as they need to leave the city before the Germans arrive. As Marie-Laure walks to the station, she can hear voices talking about France’s defeated troops. Her father tells her that the voices around her belong to other people who are hoping to find a seat on the train—just like Marie-Laure and her father.
We end the chapter with another apt symbol of the chaos of World War II, and the chaos of life: a mass of voices in a train station, all belonging to people who are trying to get out of Paris. The image of the train station has unpleasant associations with the Holocaust (which Doerr alludes to several times, but doesn’t try to deal with), and we can’t help but think of the horrors Europe will experience in the next few years.