In the evening after the events of the previous chapter, Madame Ruelle finds Marie-Laure, sitting in a school with a group of other French townspeople. The two reunite, joyfully. The morning after, American soldiers invade the town and free the prisoners in the Fort National. The siege of Saint-Malo is finally over.
The reunions in this scene are touching, but they aren’t described in remotely as much detail as Doerr invested in the previous chapters. We have the sense that the novel is already past its climax.
On the day the siege ends, Etienne is reunited with Marie-Laure, and they embrace each other. Etienne tells Marie-Laure that they’ll travel to Paris, a city he’s never visited. Marie-Laure will have to show him how to get around in Paris, he says.
We can appreciate the irony here: throughout her life, Marie-Laure has been escorted through city streets, but now she’s going to be the one showing Etienne how to get around. She will finally be returning to her old home, but also seems to have given up on ever seeing her father again. Etienne has become the new father-figure for Marie-Laure.