As one might expect, hands and handholding represent intimacy and connection in Sarah’s Key. Although the symbolism here is simple, this image is moving given the intense loneliness and longing for connection that both Sarah and Julia experience. Sarah is struggling to survive the horrifying circumstances of the Holocaust, and holding hands with people like Armelle, Rachel, and her mother, Rywka, gives Sarah a feeling of solidarity and comfort. Furthermore, the gesture of extending a hand to someone speaks to Sarah’s deep-held hope that people are still good. This can be seen in the moment after the French policeman helps Sarah and Rachel escape from Beaune-la-Rolande: before turning to run, Sarah wishes she could “hold her hand out to him.” Handholding also represents deep connection in Julia’s story. The most sensual moment of the novel occurs not between Julia and Bertrand (her husband), but between Julia and William. At the end of the novel, when Julia tells William she has named her new daughter after his mother, both William and Julia begin to cry. Julia closes her eyes and holds William’s hand against her cheek even as it “grow[s] wet with her tears.” Handholding thus becomes a gesture of vulnerability and shared emotion, reflecting the comfort and encouragement that comes from physically and emotionally connecting with other people.
Hands Quotes in Sarah’s Key
She held his gaze, not glancing down once. His eyes were a strange, yellowish color, like gold. His face was red with embarrassment, and she thought she felt him tremble. She said nothing, staring at him with all the contempt she could muster.
He could only look back at her, motionless. The girl smiled, a bitter smile for a child of ten, and brushed off his heavy hands.