Study Guide

Paul in Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein

Paul

Ugh, Paul. The English SOE operative in charge of Damask circuit, Paul (not his real name, which we don't ever know) is one of those characters we hate and then feel bad for hating because he did have his good points, and then gets killed by Nazis, and we can't help but feel bad for anyone who gets killed by Nazis.

The main thing we learn about Paul early on is that he can't keep his grabby hands to himself around women—and he knows there's really not much they can do about it under the circumstances, which makes this quality all the worse. He makes sexist jokes to other men within earshot of ladies, too. If only he'd lived a few decades longer, there's no doubt he would've found himself in the middle of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Maddie writes of him after his death:

Must remember Paul—Paul, who I also hated.

He was marvelous. I have to say it. He planned it all on the fly, made it up as we went along. The carnage wasn't his fault. Mustered an army of a dozen men and two women in about an hour.
(2.17.10-11)

Paul represents the unfortunate truth that not all the good guys are entirely good, but that they're often valuable enough to the overall mission for their shortcomings to be overlooked.

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