Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s younger brother, who was four years old at the time of the roundup. Michel only appears in one scene, where he refuses to accompany his mother and sister, instead convincing Sarah to lock him in a cupboard where he can hide from the French police. Michel is portrayed as brave but naïve. He loved the stories which Sarah often read aloud to him from his favorite book, Un Petit Diable. Sarah blames herself for Michel’s death and never fully recovers from losing him and her parents. Michel’s name is not revealed until one-third of the way into the novel, when Sarah explains to Jules and Geneviève Dufaure that she needs to return to Paris to rescue her brother.

Michel Starzynski Quotes in Sarah’s Key

The Sarah’s Key quotes below are all either spoken by Michel Starzynski or refer to Michel Starzynski. 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 15 Quotes

She couldn’t bear the idea of him waiting in the dark. He must be hungry, thirsty. His water had probably run out. And the battery on the flashlight. But anything was better than here, she thought. Anything was better than this hell, the stink, the heat, the dust, the people screaming, the people dying.

Related Characters: Sarah “Sirka” Starzynski (speaker), Michel Starzynski
Related Symbols: Dust
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 27 Quotes

She had grown up too much to be afraid anymore. She was no longer a baby. Her parents would be proud of her. That’s what she wanted them to be. Proud because she had escaped from that camp. Proud because she was going to Paris, to save her brother. Proud, because she wasn’t afraid.
She fell upon the tar with her teeth, gnawing at her mother’s minute stitches. Finally, the yellow piece of cloth fell away from the blouse. She looked at it. Big, black letters. JEW. She rolled it up in her hands.
“Doesn’t it look small, all of a sudden?” she said to Rachel.

Related Symbols: The Yellow Star
Page Number: 97-98
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 31 Quotes

All of a sudden, every ounce of hope she still harbored within her ran out. In the old lady’s eyes she read what she most dreaded. Michel was dead. Dead in the cupboard. She knew. It was too late. She had waited too long. He had not survived. He had not made it. He had died there, all alone, in the dark, with no food and no water, just the bear and the storybook, and he had trusted her, he had waited, he had probably called out to her, screamed her name again an again, “Sirka, Sirka, where are you! Where are you?” He was dead, Michel was dead. He was four years old, and he was dead, because of her.

Related Characters: Sarah “Sirka” Starzynski (speaker), Michel Starzynski
Page Number: 118-119
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 71 Quotes

I cannot bear the weight of my past.
Yet I cannot throw away the key to your cupboard.
It is the only concrete thing that links me to you, apart from your grave.

Related Characters: Sarah “Sirka” Starzynski (speaker), Michel Starzynski
Related Symbols: The Key
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Michel Starzynski Character Timeline in Sarah’s Key

The timeline below shows where the character Michel Starzynski appears in Sarah’s Key. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Guilt Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
Back in 1942, Sarah’s mother orders her to fetch her younger brother, Michel. She does, but her brother insists he is going to their “secret place,” a cupboard... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 13
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
...her best friend, Armelle. Sarah also recalls a family trip to the seaside, and how Michel, a toddler at the time, loved the ocean. Sarah looks up and notices her mother... (full context)
Chapter 15
Identity Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...the early morning, Wladyslaw begs the policemen to allow him to return home to fetch Michel, but his appeal is denied. Sarah drifts off to sleep and awakens to a kind... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...you never explained, you never told me about the danger, never!” Wladyslaw tells Sarah that Michel is “in our prayers, in our hearts.” The Starzynskis are then pushed onto a covered... (full context)
Chapter 21
Guilt Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
...been in the camp for about a week, and she is haunted by thoughts of Michel. One day she overhears a rumor that the women of the camp are going to... (full context)
Chapter 25
Bravery Theme Icon
...Instead, she feels “a strange pity for him.” Sarah asks the policeman if he remembers Michel, “the little blond boy with the curly hair.” When he nods, Sarah tells him that... (full context)
Chapter 31
Identity Theme Icon
...name is revealed. Sarah introduces herself with her nickname, Sirka. She also tells Geneviève about Michel, breaking down in anguish. Geneviève comforts Sarah and puts her to bed. (full context)
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...the items. Sarah explains that the key is to the cupboard where she has left Michel and inquires how she can get to Paris. Jules and Geneviève inform Sarah that she... (full context)
Chapter 35
Guilt Theme Icon
Identity Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
The evening after Rachel’s capture, Sarah sleeps poorly, unable to take her mind off Michel. The next morning Sarah announces to Jules and Geneviève that she is leaving for Paris... (full context)
Chapter 39
Guilt Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Chapter 40
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...describes the day of Sarah’s return to Julia. He can’t remember what was done with Michel’s body but he recalls his father, André Tézac, weeping after Sarah, Jules, and Geneviève left.... (full context)
Chapter 69
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...renovated, and wonders if she will be able to bear living in the place where Michel died. One day in November, when Julia is visiting the apartment to make some decorating... (full context)
Chapter 71
Guilt Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...as she is unable to leave her past behind her. In her dreams, she writes, Michel takes her by the hand and leads her away. (full context)