Panicked, Jules and Geneviève try to move Rachel but ultimately leave her in her bed because she is too weak. They refuse to answer Sarah’s questions, and both of them seem to have calmed down by the evening. Jules tells Sarah to return to the cellar and climb under a bag of potatoes to hide. Moments later, the dog barks and Sarah realizes the Germans are coming. She hides in the basement as the Germans upstairs tear a screaming Rachel from her bed. The Germans suspect that other Jewish children might be hiding in the cellar but Jules and Geneviève are able to persuade them not to search the house, offering them wine and food as a distraction. Eventually the Germans leave and Jules beckons Sarah back upstairs. Through tears, Geneviève praises Sarah’s bravery, calling her “little Sirka.” She also tells Sarah that the Germans took Rachel away with them. Sarah asks Geneviève and Jules to stop using her “baby name” and proudly announces that her name is Sarah Starzynski.
In shedding her childhood nickname, Sarah symbolically becomes a mature person. This poignantly underscores the trauma Sarah has withstood, and how it has forced her to think and act in ways that most children never have to. Ten years of age is, after all, an incredibly young to be leaving one’s childhood behind. Losing Rachel also compounds Sarah’s loss of both her parents, and will ultimately serve as a catalyst for Sarah’s decision to return to Paris in search of Michel. Another important aspect of this chapter is the risk that Jules and Geneviève take in attempting to convince the German soldiers not to search the cellar where Sarah is hiding. Their commitment to protecting a person they hardly know, albeit a child, is shown to be noble in its selflessness.