Julia leaves Mamé’s nursing home “in a sort of daze” and heads to the rue de Saintonge apartment. Julia walks through the apartment and thinks about the upcoming deadline for her article, before which she still plans to visit the internment camps outside of Paris and meet with Franck Lévy. While walking through the apartment, Julia discovers a concealed cupboard and thinks “it would have made a good hiding place.”
The fact that Julia goes to the rue de Saintonge apartment after talking about it with Mamé attests to the power of physical spaces to act as places to commune with the past. Julia will have this experience at other points in the novel, such as when she visits Beaune-la-Rolande.
Julia phones Bertrand and asks if his family ever told him that Mamé and her family had moved into the apartment after the roundup. Bertrand says he didn’t know, but that it doesn’t bother him. “There was a world war going on, remember,” he says. “Tough times for everybody.” After Bertrand hangs up, Julia lingers in the apartment, feeling overwhelmed by all she has learned about the roundup and her in-laws’ connection to it.
Bertrand’s dismissive attitude toward the history of Mamé’s apartment solidifies his role as a largely unsympathetic character, and widens the gap between Julia and her husband, with whom she will ultimately stop discussing her research or discoveries about the family that once lived in this apartment.