Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key

Bertrand Tézac Character Analysis

Julia’s husband. Bertrand is very charming, with an “infectious laugh, a cross between a hyena and a saxophone.” He and Julia met at a discotheque when Julia was twenty-seven. Bertrand comes from a well-to-do French family, none of whom are pleased by his choice to wed an American. Bertrand himself often mocks Julia for her American sensibilities, which Julia has increasingly come to resent. Bertrand and Julia’s marriage is deeply strained, and when Julia becomes pregnant, Bertrand insists that another baby will ruin his life. By the end of the novel, Bertrand has become depressed, and he is hurt by the fact that Julia’s obsession with Sarah Starzynski’s story means that she hasn’t noticed what he’s “going through.” Overall, Bertrand is portrayed as a less-than-compassionate character who acts mostly out of careless selfishness. By the end of the novel, Bertrand has reunited with Amélie, his former mistress, with whom he had previously cheated on Julia.

Bertrand Tézac Quotes in Sarah’s Key

The Sarah’s Key quotes below are all either spoken by Bertrand Tézac or refer to Bertrand Tézac. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the St. Martin’s Press edition of Sarah’s Key published in 2008.
Chapter 8 Quotes

Why did Bertrand take such pleasure in making me out to be the snide, prejudiced American, ever critical of the French? And why did I just stand there and let him get away with it? It had been funny, at one point. In the beginning of our marriage, it had been a classic joke, the kind that made both our American and French friends roar with laughter. In the beginning.

Related Characters: Julia Jarmond (speaker), Bertrand Tézac
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bertrand Tézac Character Timeline in Sarah’s Key

The timeline below shows where the character Bertrand Tézac appears in Sarah’s Key. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...to move into. The apartment formerly belonged to Mamé Tézac, the grandmother of Julia’s husband, Bertrand. Julia and Zoë are accompanied on their visit by Bertrand, who talks noisily on his... (full context)
Chapter 4
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
...and Antoine begin a tour of Mamé’s old apartment. Julia tells Antoine that it was Bertrand’s idea to renovate the place, and that she would have preferred to move somewhere newer.... (full context)
Chapter 6
Identity Theme Icon
Back in 2002, Bertrand finally finishes his phone call, and asks Julia what she thinks of the apartment, “cupping... (full context)
Chapter 8
Identity Theme Icon
Although Bertrand insists that Julia “adores” his sense of humor, Julia confesses to herself that Bertrand’s nasty... (full context)
Chapter 14
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
...only about her research, but also about the increasing tension she has been feeling with Bertrand. However, she remains silent until another dinner party guest, a man named Guillaume, asks what... (full context)
Chapter 16
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...photographs of her with Julia, and the two exchange phone numbers. At home, Julia tells Bertrand about the dinner conversation and asks if he thinks people will read her article about... (full context)
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Julia exits the room, angry. She recalls her history with Bertrand. The two met when Julia was twenty-seven and dating another man, a fellow American. Bertrand... (full context)
Chapter 24
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Julia phones Bertrand and asks if his family ever told him that Mamé and her family had moved... (full context)
Chapter 26
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...“find out” about the children, worrying that “Papa won’t like it.” Julia assures Zoë that Bertrand won’t mind, and she thinks with pleasure that her husband will be happy when he... (full context)
Chapter 28
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Julia sits at her “usual table” in the restaurant and waits for Bertrand to meet her. This is the same table at which she sat when Bertrand proposed,... (full context)
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
Resolving not to think about Amélie and knowing Bertrand will be “late, as usual,” Julia takes out her notes on the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup... (full context)
Chapter 30
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Julia awakens the day after her disastrous dinner date with Bertrand, feeling as if she has “aged overnight.” She is on her way to the office... (full context)
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Still devastated by Bertrand’s reaction to her pregnancy, Julia decides she can’t handle going into the office. Instead she... (full context)
Chapter 34
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...okay and she realizes she must look terrible, having stayed up all night talking to Bertrand. In an “awful, broken voice [she] did not recognize,” Bertrand had given Julia an ultimatum:... (full context)
Chapter 38
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
Julia recalls her phone call with her sister, in which Charla suggested Bertrand might be going through a midlife crisis.  After speaking to Charla, Julia then went to... (full context)
Chapter 41
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...several appointments, though for what is not specified. She thinks about her tender conversation with Bertrand the night before, when he told her all she “had always dreamed of hearing him... (full context)
Chapter 44
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
...waits at the abortion clinic. She has told no one about the abortion, except for Bertrand. While she waits, she reads Sarah’s file. Earlier in the morning, Julia had contacted a... (full context)
Chapter 46
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...commemoration, on her way to meet Nathalie Dufaure, Julia wonders if she still cares what Bertrand will think about her decision to carry the pregnancy to term. (full context)
Chapter 53
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...her. Before she can give Charla Richard’s name, Julia hears the door open and realizes Bertrand is home. She hangs up, telling her sister she’ll get back to her. (full context)
Chapter 54
Guilt Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Bertrand hugs Julia and tells her he has heard from the doctor that she decided against... (full context)
Chapter 55
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Later that night, having found the file containing Sarah’s papers, Bertrand confronts Julia. “You just can’t help it, can you?” he says. “You just can’t leave... (full context)
Chapter 60
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...Julia wonders how she will break the news of her unexpected Italy trip to Zoë, Bertrand, and her parents, who are expecting her to come visit them in Massachusetts. She starts... (full context)
Chapter 66
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...and receives the good news that her baby is fine. Zoë is with her and Bertrand is on his way. In the wake of her conversation with William, Julia feels utterly... (full context)
Chapter 68
Guilt Theme Icon
Julia’s due date approaches. Bertrand has decided to delay moving to the rue de Saintonge apartment due to Julia’s difficult... (full context)
Chapter 69
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...nursing home. Mamé has had a stroke and the home has been unable to reach Bertrand. Julia phones both of Bertrand’s sisters, and when Cécile reveals that she has just spoken... (full context)
Chapter 70
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Julia visits Mamé, along with William, Bertrand, Colette, Edouard, Laure, and Cécile. After the family is informed that Mamé’s condition has stabilized,... (full context)
Chapter 73
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Julia arrives home to find the entire Tézac family, along with Bertrand and Zoë, waiting in the living room. The family is split: Edouard, Zoë, and Cécile... (full context)
Chapter 75
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...reflecting on the recent changes in her life. Julia gave birth prematurely and, shortly thereafter, Bertrand confessed that he was in love with Amélie and would be moving in with her.... (full context)
Chapter 76
Identity Theme Icon
Though Bertrand was not thrilled at the prospect of Julia and Zoë moving, Julia insisted the move... (full context)