Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jules and Geneviève feed Rachel and Sarah, and Geneviève helps the girls to bathe. Geneviève sees blisters on Rachel’s body and realizes that she is ill, so she immediately puts her to bed. For the first time in the novel, Sarah’s name is revealed. Sarah introduces herself with her nickname, Sirka. She also tells Geneviève about Michel, breaking down in anguish. Geneviève comforts Sarah and puts her to bed.
Up until this point in the novel, Sarah has been referred to as “the girl” and Michel only as “her brother,” making this the first chapter where the Starzynski children’s names are revealed. This moment of revelation is powerful because it causes Sarah to formally become a specific individual, not merely an anonymous girl. This chapter is also significant because it introduces the plot point that Rachel might be seriously ill.
Themes
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Related Quotes
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Sarah awakens the following morning in a pleasant bedroom. As she makes her way downstairs to the kitchen, Sarah overhears Geneviève saying that she is worried about Rachel. Sarah enters the room and asks what has happened to the key and the money from the policeman, both of which were in her pocket. Geneviève points to a shelf where she has stored the items. Sarah explains that the key is to the cupboard where she has left Michel and inquires how she can get to Paris. Jules and Geneviève inform Sarah that she is now in a village near Orléans, southwest of Paris, but Sarah insists that she must return to Paris.
The urgency with which she inquires about the key demonstrates how desperately Sarah is clinging to her only physical reminder of Michel. This implies that she has managed to preserve the hope that he has somehow survived during her absence. The fact that Sarah overhears Jules and Geneviève’s conservation also echoes Sarah’s former habit of eavesdropping on her parents, who refused to discuss politics or bad news with her. This sets up the context for Sarah’s later outburst at Jules and Geneviève.
Themes
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Before Geneviève can respond, Rachel lets out a scream from upstairs. Geneviève tells Jules that she thinks Rachel is suffering from dysentery and Jules leaves to fetch the village doctor, only to return an hour later. The village doctor was nowhere to be found, but Jules has found a doctor in Orléans who has agreed to visit the house. When this doctor arrives, Geneviève orders Sarah to hide. From the cellar, Sarah can hear the doctor asking badgering questions about Rachel’s identity and wondering aloud “what the Kommandantur would think of this dark, thin little girl.” After the doctor leaves, Jules asks Geneviève, “What have we done?”
Jules’s question to Geneviève suggests that he is aware that the doctor’s visit has put Rachel in danger, since the doctor is clearly, at the very least, a Nazi sympathizer.  Although it does not address the repercussions of bravery, this chapter does show how Jules and Geneviève’s compassionate act of seeking medical care for Rachel backfires, in much the same way that Sarah’s decision to lock Michel in the cupboard did.
Themes
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