Sarah’s Key

Sarah’s Key

Wladyslaw Starzynski Character Analysis

Sarah’s father, originally from Poland. Wladyslaw is a kind man who is devoted to his family. He is hiding in the cellar on the night of the roundup, but when his wife, Rywka, screams for him as she and Sarah are being lead away by the French police, he emerges and insists he be arrested along with his family. Although Sarah expresses anger with her father for shielding her from the political reality of the Second World War rather than explaining it to her, she is nevertheless very close Wladyslaw and feels safer when he is around. Wladyslaw encourages Sarah to be brave and when the family is deported from Paris to the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp, he tells her, “I am here with you. And we are with your brother. He is in our prayers, in our hearts.” Wladyslaw is separated from Sarah and her mother upon arrival at Beaune-la-Rolande, so Sarah is not able to say goodbye to him. Julia learns that Wladyslaw was transported from Beaune-la-Rolande on convoy 15, which infamously travelled to Auschwitz.

Wladyslaw Starzynski Quotes in Sarah’s Key

The Sarah’s Key quotes below are all either spoken by Wladyslaw Starzynski or refer to Wladyslaw 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 9 Quotes

Her father looked down at her. He said her name again, very softly. His eyes were still wet, his eyelashes spiked with tears. He put his hand on the back of her neck.
“Be brave, my sweet love. Be brave, as brave as you can.”
She could not cry. Her fear was so great it seemed to engulf everything else, it seemed to suck up every single emotion within her, like a monstrous, powerful vacuum.

Related Characters: Wladyslaw Starzynski (speaker), Sarah “Sirka” Starzynski
Related Symbols: The Key
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 11 Quotes

But she had seen. She knew what it was. A young woman, her mother’s age, and a small child. The woman had jumped, her child held close, from the highest railing.
From where the girl sat, she could see the dislocated body of the woman, the bloody skull of the child, sliced open like a ripe tomato.
The girl bent her head and cried.

Related Characters: Sarah “Sirka” Starzynski (speaker), Wladyslaw Starzynski
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 13 Quotes

As she looked at Eva and her mother, the girl wondered if her parents had been right to protect her from everything, if they had been right to keep disturbing, bad news away fro her. If they had been right not to explain why so many things had changed from them since the beginning of the war. Like when Eva’s husband never came back last year. He had disappeared. Where? Nobody would tell her. Nobody would explain. She hated being treated like a baby. She hated the voices being lowered when she entered the room.

If they had told her, if they had told her everything they knew, wouldn’t that have made today easier?

Page Number: 40
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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Wladyslaw Starzynski Character Timeline in Sarah’s Key

The timeline below shows where the character Wladyslaw Starzynski appears in Sarah’s Key. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
...knocking on her apartment door. Sarah worries that the police might have found her father, Wladyslaw, who has been spending nights hiding in the family’s cellar due to recent arrests of... (full context)
Chapter 5
Identity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...but he ultimately falls silent, too. Rywka breaks down sobbing and shouts for her husband. Wladyslaw emerges from his hiding spot in the cellar and tells the policemen, “Take me with... (full context)
Chapter 9
Identity Theme Icon
Bravery Theme Icon
Sarah, Rywka, and Wladyslaw are led into a large garage, where they wait along with many other families. Sarah... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 15
Identity Theme Icon
The Limits of Love Theme Icon
...birth to a stillborn baby and wailed in anguish for hours. In the early morning, Wladyslaw begs the policemen to allow him to return home to fetch Michel, but his appeal... (full context)
Chapter 17
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
Guilt Theme Icon
...never told me, Papa, 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... (full context)
Chapter 19
Identity Theme Icon
...women and children are allowed to remain together but the policemen order the men, including Wladyslaw, to separate from their families. Sarah gets one last glimpse of her father before he... (full context)
Chapter 32
Remembrance and History Theme Icon
The Power of Silence Theme Icon
...that Julia will not publish the information. Lévy is able to find information that indicates Wladyslaw and Rywka were transported from the Beaune-la-Rolande internment camp on convoy 15, which Julia knows... (full context)