Back in 1942, the policemen consult a list and realize that “there’s a child missing.” Rywka lies again, saying her “brother” is not present, but the police don’t believe her and search the apartment anyway. Unable to find Michel or Wladyslaw, the police lead Sarah and Rywka away. As she exists the building, Sarah notices the gloating expression on the face of the concierge, Madame Royer. Madame Royer offers to help the police track down Michel and Wladyslaw, and even claims she knows of other Jewish families living in the apartment next door, but the police insist they don’t have time, saying, “We’ll come back later if we have to.” Sarah notes that Madame Royer pronounces the names of Jewish families as if they were swearwords.
This chapter introduces Madame Royer, the novel’s only purely evil character, who sells out the Starzynski family to the police. Sarah is confused by Madame Royer’s triumphant attitude and hateful tone. As Sarah’s story unfolds, she will wrestle with what it means to be Jewish, and how other people can hate an entire group based on their race or religion.