Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key


Tatiana De Rosnay

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Sarah’s Key: Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Julia and Bamber meet with the woman referred to them by the waiter. She was thirty-five at the time of the roundup, and tells Julia, “it’s hard to forget the children.” The woman recalls trying to throw bread and fruit to the children that finally emerged from the Vélodrome, but she was forbidden to do so by the police. “Shame on us all,” the woman says, “for not having stopped it.” Julia tries to encourage the woman by saying that perhaps this year will be different—people will finally take an interest in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ children. The woman disagrees, saying, “Nobody remembers. Why should they? Those were the darkest days of our country.”
Julia’s interview with this woman is important because it is the only time in the novel that the reader is introduced to someone who witnessed the roundup as an adult. The woman’s memories of the children highlights the uniqueness of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, which targeted thousands of Jewish children, many of whom were under 10. The woman in this chapter also echoes Bertrand’s sentiment that no one cares about the roundup, but the woman additionally tries to account for this cultural amnesia but saying that people are justified in not wanting to remember hard times. The novel will challenge this reasoning as the story continues to unfold.
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