Sarah, Rywka, and Wladyslaw are led into a large garage, where they wait along with many other families. Sarah recognizes a schoolmate, Léon, whose worried face makes her doubt her confidence that everything is going to be alright. She shows her father the key and explains that she’s left Michel locked in their secret cupboard. When her father begins to cry, Sarah demands that he tell her what’s going on. Wladyslaw says only that the family will not be going home, and asks Sarah to “be brave.”
Until this chapter, Sarah has felt confident that the French police, unlike the Germans, will not do anything to harm her and her family. Arriving at the garage is the first time Sarah’s trust in her fellow French citizens begins to waver. Wladyslaw’s devastated reaction to seeing Sarah’s key also confuses Sarah, who, despite her flickers of doubt, remains sure that she will soon be able to return to her brother. Wladyslaw’s injunction to Sarah—be brave—will also continue to influence her throughout the novel.
The police order the families onto the green-and-white city buses. Through the window of the bus, Sarah recognizes her neighborhood policeman, but when she waves to him he refuses to meet her eyes. The buses transport the Jewish families to “a great pale building” (the Vélodrome d’Hiver), where they are forced to take their place along with hundreds of other people cramped into the sweltering arena. Sarah asks her father why all the people are there, placing her hand over the yellow star she wears and saying, “It’s because of this, isn’t it?” Although Wladyslaw answers in the affirmative, Sarah feels as though no one will ever be able to adequately explain to her why this is all happening.
Sarah’s brief moment of eye contact with the local police officer will take on significance later in the novel, when Sarah again crosses paths with this officer. This chapter also includes the first moment in which ten-year-old Sarah consciously makes the connection between the yellow star she is forced to wear and the fact that she and her family have been arrested. Sarah’s unresolved childlike confusion over the connection between these two things highlights the absurdity of defining people based on one facet of their identity.