Sarah, Jules, and Geneviève arrive at Sarah’s old apartment. Madame Royer assumes the Dufaures must be looking to rent an apartment. Although the Starzynskis’ apartment has already been leased, she says, “there’s a very nice place on the second floor” that she can show them. Sarah races to her old apartment, where a twelve-year-old boy (young Edouard) answers the door. Sarah demands to see Michel. She pushes past the boy, who cries out for his father. In her former bedroom, Sarah uses the key to unlock the cupboard. An overpowering smell immediately fills the room. Jules, Geneviève, and the boy’s father (André) enter the bedroom and although Jules tries to pull her away, Sarah sees her brother’s blackened, dead body at the back of the cupboard. She collapses to her knees and “scream[s] at the top of her lungs.”
This chapter is the climax of Sarah’s story. Discovering Michel’s body emotionally damages Sarah for the rest of her life, compounding the loss of her parents and causing Sarah to be wracked with guilt until the end of her life. This chapter underscores the heartbreaking reality that Sarah’s love for Michel, and the risks she took to return to him despite overwhelming odds, were not enough to save him.