Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key


Tatiana De Rosnay

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Sarah’s Key: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Sarah and the other prisoners arrive at an internment camp somewhere in the French countryside. The women and children are allowed to remain together but the policemen order the men, including Wladyslaw, to separate from their families. Sarah gets one last glimpse of her father before he disappears. As she huddles against her mother, Sarah finds herself wondering about the people on the other side of the barbed-wire fence, and wonders “why there was such a difference between those children and her.” That night, unable to sleep, Sarah makes her way to the latrine, where she pulls her skirt down “over her loins” to shield herself from the watchmen in the camp towers. Back in the barracks, Sarah hardly recognizes her mother, who is now “gaunt, and pale.” She feels Rywka is “already dead.”
From this point on, Sarah is essentially without her parents, marking a turning point in her journey. Her father has been deported and her mother is essentially catatonic, which means Sarah will no longer be able to rely on her parents. This chapter is also significant because it emphasizes the stark contrast between the experiences of Jews and non-Jews during World War Two. Sarah’s ruminations on what makes her different from non-Jewish children continue to force the reader to consider the question for him or herself, as the novel inexorably points to the answer: that there is no difference.
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