Two days have gone by since Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father fled Paris. They enter the town of Evreux, which is in a state of chaos. Houses have been abandoned, but the hotels are overbooked. Marie-Laure cries that she can smell smoke, and her father explains that people are burning down houses and “stealing things.” Marie-Laure’s father tries to find one particular house—the house he’s been sent by the museum director to find. Unfortunately, he realizes that this house has been burned down. He asks passersby if they’ve seen Monsieur Giannot, and he learns that Giannot has left for London.
Again Doerr jumps back to his previous timeline. Marie-Laure’s perspective as a blind girl is particularly interesting during all of this. She can’t see the chaos around her, but she grasps it in other ways—smelling the smoke, for example. Her bond with her father continues to be the dominant relationship in her life: she can’t imagine what she’d do if he were to disappear.
Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father continue walking through the city. They decide to go to a hotel on the outskirts of Evreux. Marie-Laure’s father, who can feel the diamond in his pocket, tries to tell himself that it’s only a decoy, made of glass. He tries not to think about the curse of the stone.
In this section, the novel’s perspective changes ever so slightly—instead of narrating from the point of view of Marie-Laure, the narrator gives us information that Marie-Laure can’t process: her father has the Sea of Flames. This is a clever way of showing how the diamond distances Marie-Laure from her father—the narrative is literally creating this distance of perspective.
Marie-Laure’s father explains to Marie-Laure that they’re trying to find his uncle, Etienne, Marie-Laure’s great-uncle. Etienne is “76% crazy,” Marie-Laure’s father claims.
A new character is about to enter the book—Etienne has already been referenced in the prologue, but the nature of his “craziness” is still unclear.