Study Guide

Code Name Verity Quotes

  • Friendship

    And the story of how I came to be here starts with Maddie. I don't think I'll ever know how I ended up carrying her National Registration card and pilot's license instead of my own ID when you picked me up, but if I tell you about Maddie you'll understand why we flew here together. (1.8.XI.43.17)

    Frankly, this is an odd way to start spilling your guts about state secrets. Let me tell you about my BFF… huh? We wonder what von Linden was thinking when he started reading this.

    It's a superficial way to write about myself. I don't have to take myself seriously—or, well, only as seriously as Maddie takes me. (1.11.XI.43.15)

    Julie tells as much of her own story as she can through Maddie's eyes. How accurate or reliable do you think this is, considering that she didn't even know Maddie when she starts the story in 1938?

    Queenie squeezed Maddie around the waist and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "Kiss me, Hardy!" Weren't those Nelson's last words at the Battle of Trafalgar? Don't cry. We're still alive and we make a sensational team." (1.11.XI.43.68)

    While Maddie and Queenie have already done some impressive things together, the scene in which they take over for two dead antiaircraft gunners and (maybe) shoot down a Messerschmitt 109 is the moment that really cements their friendship. Makes our conversations in coffee shops with our besties seem a bit less cool by comparison.

    It's like being in love, discovering your best friend. (1.11.XI.43.68) 

    If there's one line that sums up the whole book, this is it. How is platonic friendship like and unlike romantic love?

    Oh Maddie.

    I am lost. I have lost the thread. I was indulging myself in details as if they were wool blankets or alcohol, escaping wholly back into the early days of our friendship. We made a sensational team. (1.16.XI.43.1-2)

    Memories of the good times, and even of the good within the bad times, are getting Julie through her captivity and interrogation by the Ormaie Gestapo. Why does Julie compare her memories of Maddie to wool blankets and alcohol?

    Maddie held her lightly, thinking she would let go when her friend stopped crying. But she cried for so long that Maddie fell asleep first. So she didn't ever let go. (1.22.XI.43.169)

    Because she's so tough and bold, it's easy to think of Julie as the "strong one" in the friendship, but here we see some of Maddie's strength. How are Julie's and Maddie's emotional strengths different?

    Maddie gave a sobbed gasp of laughter. She bent her head to the cold hand on her shoulder and kissed it warmly. The small fingers brushed her cheek, gave her shoulder one last squeeze, and retreated through the bulkhead.

    Maddie heard the rear canopy slide open. She felt the faintest dip in the aircraft's balance as the weight shifted. Then she flew alone. (1.25.XI.43.74-75)

    This is the moment in the narrative when Julie and Maddie split up—and they won't see each other again until the night Maddie is forced to kill Julie. What do you think of this as a farewell?

    I am beginning to think it was one of her less clever ideas to call herself Kitty Hawk in German. Terribly sweet, but not very practical. Though to be fair she wasn't expecting me to come along. (2.2.11)

    Now we're seeing Julie from Maddie's point of view. Does the way Maddie describes Julie reinforce or contradict what we already know about Julie from her own narrative?

    If Julie is not already dead—if she is not already dead she is counting on me. She is calling me, whispering my name to herself in the dark. What can I do—I can scarcely sleep. I just go around in circles all night trying to think what I can do. WHAT can I do? (2.7.23)

    Ugh, helplessness—we hate that feeling even when our best friends aren't being held by the Gestapo. This passage is truer than Maddie knows, though. Julie's narrative is her way of clinging to Maddie to help her get through the worst trial of her life.

    Sometimes Julie used to make me jealous—her cleverness, her ease with men, how posh she is—the grouse-shooting and the Swiss school and speaking three languages and being presented to the king in a blue silk ball gown—even her MBE after she caught those spies, like being knighted, and especially her term at Oxford—and I hate myself for ever having thought any of it was worth envying.

    Now all I can think of is where she is and how much I love her. And I start to cry again. (2.11.30-31)

    Don't feel too bad, Maddie: we're kind of jealous of Julie, too. She's had some awesome opportunities, and she herself is pretty awesome to boot. Jealousy is part of friendship: after all, we probably wouldn't be friends with people if we didn't think they were cool.

  • Manipulation

    Maddie listened as the wireless operator made her first radio call, in German, as cool and crisp as if she'd been giving radio instructions to Luftwaffe bombers all her life. The Luftwaffe boy's voice responded in a gasp of gratitude, practically weeping with relief. (1.10.XI.43.66)

    It's funny how we, and even Maddie and Julie, can feel sorry for the pilot even though we know he's fighting for the enemy. Is there something about knowing a person is being lied to that makes us feel bad for him?

    "Bear in mind," said Creighton soberly, holding the other man's magnified eyes with his own over the top of his steepled fingers, "these two work well together."

    clk/sd and w/op

    Bloody Machiavellian English Intelligence Officer playing God. (1.11.XI.43.205-207)

    This is how it starts: special duties clerk and wireless operator forming an amazing team. The wheels are spinning in Creighton's and the English Intelligence Officer's heads. We already know this ends badly. How much blame can we assign to the people who identify and train Julie for what happens to her? Are they just doing their jobs?

    I liked him—don't get me wrong—beautiful eyes behind the dreadful specs, and very lithe and powerful beneath the scholarly tweed. It was wonderful flirting with him, all that razor-edge literary banter, like Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. A battle of wit, and a test, too. But he was playing God. I noticed, I knew it, and I didn't care. It was such a thrill to be one of the archangels, the avengers, the chosen few. (1.11.XI.43.209)

    Now we know Julie was in on it, totally complicit in her handler's plans for her. Does the fact that she essentially seals her own fate make it easier or harder to accept her death?

    He pored over the pages again and produced Maddie's clothing ration coupons. Her stomach turned over. She never found out how he got them.

    He handed them to her. "Explain to your colleague you were called in here today so we could return these and give you a lecture about taking greater care with your personal papers."

    "Well, I jolly well will be more careful with them after this," she told him fiercely. (1.21.XI.43.40-42)

    Unsolved mysteries we want answers to: how did he get Maddie's ration coupons? Creeping around in her stuff? We get that there's a war on, but that's taking things too far, dude.

    It is ridiculous that you have not already guessed the nature of my Intelligence work, Amadeus von Linden. Like you, I am a wireless operator.

    Like you, I am bloody good at it.

    Our methods differ. (1.21.XI.43.141-143)

    Bombshell, Shmoopsters. (Figuratively, not literally, so no need to take cover. Sorry… too soon?) Julie is also an interrogator. That "wireless operator" business is a cover and then a metaphor. We will give the girl this: her use of literary devices is superb.

    At any rate I didn't miss a beat—this is how I operate. This is what I am so good at. Give me a hint, just one hint, and I will fake it. It's the thin end of the wedge for you, me laddie. (1.24.XI.43.11)

    Julie's a good actor who can think on her feet, and she's pretty darn proud of it. Even after being tortured, she's still pretty vain about her mad skills. We say, you go, girl.

    "I don't need papers!" I cried. "I don't need proof! I don't need electrified needles and ice water and battery acid and the threat of kerosene! All I do is ask a question, and you answer it! What more perfect proof than one lovely word out of you—Isolde? I'm a wireless operator!" (1.24.XI.43.19)

    For an interrogator, von Linden isn't very good at protecting himself from interrogation. He knows Julie is Eva Seiler, but he still spills the beans the second she asks him a question.

    How does she do it? She makes it sound like she is so cut up to be giving them this information, and it's all just bumph out of her head. She never told them ANYTHING. (2.20.1)

    We really don't know how she does it, but Julie does admit a million times that she likes to make up stories. The clues are there that all is not as it seems. Why would Julie give her captors clues not to trust what she's saying?

    Creighton is the name of the Colonel in Kim. I know, because Julie made me read it—partly, I am dead sure, as a warning about how both of us were being fine-tuned for the war machine by that Bloody Machiavellian Intelligence Officer whose real name she also knows perfectly well. (2.20.2)

    Again Julie knows what's happening. She knows what the Intelligence Officer is up to, and she's happy to go along with it, though she does warn Maddie. Can books be a warning? Is there an implicit warning for readers in Code Name Verity?

    I raised my head with a jerk and asked furiously, "Why? Why do you care whether I can come up with the coordinates out of my head? I can make up coordinates the way Julie made up code! Give me a map and I'll point it out, you don't need me to do this! What do you really want, you bloody Machiavellian BASTARD?"

    He was silent for a minute.

    "I've been asked to test you a bit," he confessed at last. "Turn up the heat, see how you respond. I'm not honestly sure what to do with you. The Air Ministry wants to take away your license and the Special Operations Executive wants to recommend you for a George Medal. They'd like you to stay with them." (2.26.39-41)

    So you just got stuck in occupied France for two months and had to kill your best friend. Welcome home, Maddie. We're just going to lay the pressure on a teensy bit more. If you were Maddie, what would you choose?

  • Warfare

    This was in the spring of 1940—the war was still in Europe. It was before the disastrous May when the Allies fled, retreating to the French beaches, before the siege that was the Battle of Britain, before the thunder and flame-filled nights of the Blitz. In the spring of 1940 our skies were alert and armed and uneasy. But they were still safe. (1.9.XI.43.93)

    This is part of Julie's flashback to the story of how Maddie became a pilot—she's also flashing back to a safer time even as she tells us it didn't stay that way. Julie does this throughout Part 1, taking us somewhere relatively safe and then reminding us that things aren't that way anymore.

    The WAAF officers were quartered in the gatehouse lodge at the edge of the estate grounds that the airfield had been built on, and Maddie and her bunk mates were so dead asleep they didn't hear the sirens. They only woke up after the first explosion. They ran through scrub woodland to the nearest shelter in their pajamas and tin hats, clutching gas masks and ID cards. There was no light to see by except the gunfire and the exploding flames—no streetlamps, no cracks of light in any doors or windows, not even the glow of a cigarette end. It was like being in hell, nothing but shadows and jumping flames and fire and stars overhead. (1.10.XI.43.89)

    Here we have the description of an air raid, which sounds like absolutely no fun at all, especially because it gets everyone out of their nice warm beds to go running around in the dark.

    Most of the protective concrete barrier and the sandbags surrounding it had been blown to bits, taking with it two of the army gunners who had been valiantly trying to keep the runway fit for the Spitfire squadron that would have to land there after the battle. One of the dead gunners was easily younger than Maddie. A third man who was still standing looked like a butcher without the apron, soaked from neck to thighs in blood. He turned wearily and said, "Thanks for the relief. I'm beat." Then he sat down on the ruined platform and closed his eyes. Maddie cowered next to him, her arms over her head, listening to the hideous rattle of the gunner sucking air into blood-filled lungs. (1.11.XI.43.41)

    Didn't think an air raid could get worse than making you go running around the woods in your pajamas? Think again: it gets much worse.

    When one of Queenie's Top Ten Fears materialized and her favorite brother Jamie the bomber pilot (the real Jamie) and his crew got shot down. Jamie spent a night floating in the North Sea and afterward had to have four frozen fingers and all his toes amputated. (1.16.XI.43.111)

    This is on the list of times Maddie and Julie see each other during the year they are separated. Put spending the night in the North Sea up there on the list of things that are about as much fun as an air raid. It's like the worst game of "Would You Rather?" ever. Would you rather spend the night in the North Sea or operate an antiaircraft gun in an air raid? Ugh. No thanks to all of it.

    "You know what they call this place?"

    I raised my eyebrows, shrugging.

    "Le Chȃteau des Bourreaux," she said.

    I laughed rather too loudly again, crossed my legs, and examined the inside of my wrist.

    (It is a pun, you see. Chȃteau de Bordeaux, Chȃteau des Bourreaux—Bordeaux Castle, Castle of Butchers.) (1.20.XI.43.27-31)

    Proof that even in war, everyone appreciates a good pun. Extra points if you get or make a pun in a language you're not a native speaker of.

    "It's not a nice job," Queenie whispered. "It's not like your job—blameless."

    "I'm not blameless," said Maddie. "Every bomber I deliver goes operational and kills people. Civilians. People like my gran and granddad. Children. Just because I don't do it myself doesn't mean I'm not responsible. I deliver you."

    "Blond bombshell," Queenie said, and spluttered with laughter at her own joke. Then she began to cry. (1.22.XI.43.166-168)

    Here we're reminded that no one is completely blameless in war, and everyone gets roped into the killing, which is perhaps a good thing to remember when it's time to pick up the pieces.

    Being a kid and worrying that a bomb might kill you is terrible. But being a kid and worrying that the police might cut your head off is something else entirely. I haven't words for it. Every fresh broken horror is something I just didn't understand until I came here. (2.13.3)

    Yeah, all our childhood fears pale in comparison to the Gestapo. We feel pretty silly for worrying about those monsters in the closet.

    That is the man who interrogated Julie, the man who will order her execution—or who already has. I don't know what I expected, but he just looked like anybody—like the sort of chap who would come into the shop and buy a motorbike for his lad's sixteenth birthday—like your headmaster. But also—he looked like he was on his knees. Dog tired, absolutely haggard with it. He looked like he hadn't slept for a week. The pilots all looked like that in September of '40, during the worst days of the Battle of Britain—the vicar's lad looked like that, running out to his plane, the day he was killed. (2.14.16)

    Maddie gives us an interesting comparison here between von Linden (a Nazi officer) and the vicar's lad (a British airman). These aren't characters we'd expect to see exhibiting similar traits. What is the effect of the comparison on our feelings about both characters?

    Paul picked them off like ducks at a funfair with his Sten submachine gun. While that was going on I was curled uselessly in a ball with my arms over my head and my teeth clenched, so I missed a bit of the action. Born to be a soldier, my foot. A raid is actually quite a lot like a battle. It is war. It's war in miniature, but it's still war. (2.17.20)

    You don't have to convince us it's like a battle, Maddie: we're with you. It sounds awful, and the smaller, more personal nature of a raid as compared to a large battle might even make it worse. What do you think?

    He drew a long, shaking breath. "'Killed in action' was what the first wire told us, and 'killed in action' the verdict shall remain," he said firmly. "She was killed in action by this account, and given the number of people who died under fire that night I don't think we need to give out details of who shot whom. Your story shall not leave this building. You've not told anyone here what happened, have you?" (2.26.29)

    Poor Maddie. She does what she can to keep her friend from suffering needlessly, and then she feels the need to confess to murder for it. Why does Maddie feel the need to confess? What would you do in the same situation?

  • Fear

    God, I tried hard last week. My God, I tried. But now I know I am a coward. After the ridiculous deal I made with SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden, I know I am a coward. (1.8.XI.43.2)

    This is one of the first things Julie tells us about herself. How does this admission affect how readers interpret her actions and motivations?

    What's in my future—a tin of kerosene poured down my throat and a match held to my lips? Scalpel and acid, like the Resistance boy who won't talk? My living skeleton packed up in a cattle wagon with two hundred desperate others, carted off God knows where, to die of thirst before we get there? No. I'm not traveling those roads. This is the easiest. The others are too frightening even to look down. (1.8.XI.43.11)

    This description is as bad as any horror movie we've ever seen. Does Julie actually choose the easiest road? What makes her path easier or harder than that of others? You might say that there just aren't any easy roads in this scenario.

    She gently pried the handle out of Maddie's trembling hand and held the ridiculous umbrella up over both their heads inside the bunker. Maddie took a drag on the offered cigarette. After a while of alternately biting her nails and smoking the borrowed cigarette down to a sliver of paper and ash, her hands stopped trembling. Maddie said hoarsely, "Thank you." (1.10.XI.43.106)

    In this excerpt, Julie helps Maddie through her fear during an air raid. Is Julie any less afraid than Maddie? Why might that be? Either way, that's what friends are for.

    "Are you scared of anything?" Maddie asked.

    "Lots of things!"

    "Name one."

    "I can name ten."

    "Go on, then." (1.10.XI.43.120-124)

    This is where Maddie and Julie begin their lists of fears. Maddie thinks of Julie as impossibly brave, but sure enough, Julie has plenty she's afraid of as well.

    Maddie waited. Queenie was right: doing something, focusing, took away the fear. (1.11.XI.43.51)

    Take note, Shmoopsters, because this is a great trick for navigating situations that super freak you out. Just roll up your sleeves, and distract yourself with something else.

    The whimpering Scot crept toward the cockpit, keeping low to the floor of the aircraft to avoid having to look out. Maddie glanced over her shoulder; she could tell her friend was manfully battling some demon or other.

    "If you're scared, do something," Maddie shouted, not without irony. (1.16.XI.43.77-78)

    This is one of the rare times in Julie and Maddie's friendship when Julie's the one who is afraid. So Maddie gives her right back the advice that Julie gave her: do something.

    I want to update my list of "10 Things I Am Afraid Of." (1.18.XI.43.6)

    If we were prisoners of the Gestapo, we'd definitely be updating our lists. Why might Julie choose to do this? What does she gain by telling her captors her fears?

    "Not me," Maddie said. "I'm one of the Always Terrified Airwomen."

    Jamie laughed. "You, terrified! My eye."

    "I don't like guns," Maddie said. "Someday I'll be fired on in the air, and I'll go down in flames just because I'm too blooming scared to fly the plane." (1.18.XI.43.106-108)

    Oh, foreshadowing. Hello, old friend. Maddie is later fired on in the air, and she lands the plane beautifully. Since she's totally under control the whole time, we think she sells herself a bit short here.

    I said I was afraid of cold. It's true cold is uncomfortable but… not really something to be afraid of, is it? What are 10 things I am afraid of now? (2.3.11)

    Now it's Maddie's turn to update her own list. What does she hope to gain by doing so? It might be interesting to consider this in comparison with Julie's decision to update her list.

    I'm trying to remember what else I told Julie I was afraid of. Most of those "fears" we talked about that first day, in the canteen, were just so stupid. Getting old! It embarrasses me to think about it. The things I told her on our bicycle adventure were better. Dogs. Hah—that reminds me. (2.3.19)

    Now that we think about it, our lists of fears has changed over time, too. What about yours? Have you ever been afraid of something that seems silly in retrospect?

  • Perseverance

    And of course—I am willing to play. How did he know? How did he know from the start, even before I told him? That I am always willing to play, addicted to the Great Game? (1.17.XI.43.15)

    And just like that, perseverance gets Julie into trouble. She just doesn't know when to quit. However, it helps her out, too, enabling her to keep fighting when she's down.

    9) Not being able to finish my story.

    10) Also of finishing it. (1.18.XI.43.15-16)

    Julie needs to finish that story because she knows, though the reader doesn't yet, that Anna Engel needs the whole thing to deliver to the Resistance in order to give them the information they need. Julie also knows, though, that when the story ends—when she has nothing more to give her captors—she'll be shipped off to a concentration camp.

    It is six weeks today since I landed here. I suppose that's quite a good innings for a wireless operator, though my success at staying alive for so long would carry more weight if I'd actually managed to set up a radio before I was caught. Now I really am living on borrowed time. Not much more to tell. (1.23.XI.43.16)

    Julie is still pretending to the Gestapo that she's in France as a wireless operator, but the key thing to note about this passage is the way the pacing picks up. We get the sense that everything really is coming to an end… and fast.

    I stood up. It is pointless backing against the wall, and I have stopped bothering about my hair. But the Wallace in me still makes me want to face the enemy on my feet. (1.24.XI.43.4)

    Julie keeps getting up, even when it's not smart, just like she keeps playing the game. We suppose stubbornness is also an element of perseverance.

    "Eva Seiler," he breathed. "You might have spared yourself a great deal of suffering if you had confessed this sooner."

    "But I wouldn't have been able to write it all down if I'd done that," I wept. "So it was worth it."
    (1.24.XI.43.37-38)

    This happens after Julie reveals she is Eva Seiler, false government liaison to Berlin. Again, it's essential to Julie that she write down her "confession," because the confession is how she's going to communicate information about the Ormaie Gestapo to Damask circuit.

    Please God. Oh why am I so coarse and thoughtless? Whatever it is now, I dread not being able to finish almost more than I dre (1.25.XI.43.47)

    Shudder. Double shudder. Unfinished sentences give us the creeps because we wonder what interrupts them. Julie's really determined to finish this confession, so determined that she wants to finish it more than she wants to avoid something that is no doubt pretty awful.

    I am finished now, so I will just sit here writing it again and again until I can no longer stay awake or someone discovers what I am doing and takes the pen away. I have told the truth. (1.28. XI.43.24)

    Julie finally finishes her narrative, and now her insane endurance kicks in. As soon as her captors know she's finished, she's, uh, literally finished, so we don't blame her for buying more time.

    "She was—she was focused. She didn't expect to hear her own code name come up in the conversation and it shook her, but she didn't—you know, she didn't hint at rescue—I think she's still dead set on completing her assignment, and has reason to believe she can do it from inside." (2.11.20)

    This is Georgia Penn, reporting back from her interview with Julie. Julie hasn't quit or turned informer at all; in fact, she's figuring out how to complete her mission while a prisoner. Respect.

    Julie put in the great-aunt story because she thought we might have to blow the place up with her inside. That there might be no other way. And she wanted us to do it anyway. (2.21.22)

    Whew, Julie really wants that mission completed, which we guess is a good quality in an SOE agent.

    It is coming down. We are still a sensational team. (2.21.24)

    Maddie's figured out how to blow the Ormaie Gestapo sky high. She's determined to complete Julie's mission and, in doing so, somewhat avenge Julie's death.

  • Betrayal

    She was anxious last night because she didn't think I'd coughed up enough facts to count as a proper little Judas yesterday. (1.9.XI.43.6)

    This does beg the question, how much betrayal is enough betrayal? At what point does one become a traitor?

    That heading looks terribly official. I feel better already. Like a proper little Judas. (1.9.XI.43.12)

    Apparently headings help with betrayal. Why does Julie say this makes her feel better?

    (That is from Macbeth. He is said to be another of my unlikely ancestors, and actually did hold court on my family's estate from time to time. He was not, by all contemporary accounts, the treacherous bastard Shakespeare makes him out to be. Will history remember me for my MBE, my British Empire honor for "chivalry," or for my cooperation with the Gestapo? I don't want to think about it. I expect they can take the MBE away if you stop being chivalrous.) (1.10.XI.43.27)

    Julie leaves these little breadcrumbs for us throughout her narrative, telling us she's not quite the traitor she's making herself out to be, either. Macbeth is a play by Shakespeare, but the title character is based on an actual historic person—and Julie tells us that the story and the truth of the matter are different, much like her own case.

    We made a deal. Another one. Truly I thought I couldn't possibly have anything left of my soul to sell to him, but we have managed to strike another bargain. (1.17.XI.43.8)

    Julie makes a lot of deals with von Linden. What are both of them trying to get out of these deals? Does either ever get what he or she is looking for?

    It is comforting to discover that I am not, after all, the only Judas to have been interned behind these desecrated hotel walls. I suppose von Linden would be sacked if his success rate were that dismal. (1.17.XI.43.14)

    Here Julie is translating and recording other prisoners' records and discovers others have given up information before her. Given the truth of what she's doing—not giving the Gestapo one thing—we can't help but wonder what she actually thinks about this.

    BUCKETS OF BLOOD, WHEN DO I GET TO FINISH MY GREAT DISSERTATION OF TREASON? (1.20.XI.43.1)

    All caps still indicates SHOUTING, even in 1943. Looks like someone really wants to finish her thoughts on treason…

    The man I interviewed that night didn't believe in me. He accused me of treachery. Treason against the Fatherland—what was I doing working for the enemy, the English? He called me a collaborator, a backstabber, a filthy English whore. (1.22.XI.43.146)

    Julie recalls that this happened while she was interrogating prisoners as Eva Seiler. It seems like no matter what she's doing or where she's doing it, someone always thinks she's a traitor to her country, even thought she actually never is. Seems like a tough role to play.

    Now the whole Damask circuit is on edge, afraid that Julie's capture will betray them.

    I mean, that Julie will betray them herself. By giving them away under pressure. The longer the silence the more certain it is that she's been caught. (2.4.2-3)

    Maddie's talking now. Everyone's afraid Julie will betray them, but she never does, which we know because we've already read her whole "confession." It's not ever clear that Julie has the information she would need to betray the Damask circuit, anyway.

    I think I probably wouldn't have cared if the old woman who lived there had turned me over to the police. ISN'T THAT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND? (2.18.36)

    Maddie feels she has betrayed Julie by killing her, so she longs to be betrayed in turn. She seeks some sort of judgment or punishment for the rest of the book, though everyone who finds out what happens thinks she did the right thing.

    If they hang me they will do it cleanly, break my neck instantly, and I will deserve it. They won't make me betray anyone. They won't make me watch it happening to anyone else. They won't incinerate my body and turn it into soap. They'll make sure Grandad knows what happened. (2.25.5)

    Maddie envisions execution for Julie's murder as a clean sort of death, cleaner than anything the Gestapo offers, anyway. It won't involve hurting anyone else, which seems to be what Maddie sees as the definition of betrayal.

  • Mortality (Death)

    That was because Mary, Queen of Scots, is another of my illustrious ancestors. She died messily as well. They all died messily. (1.11.XI.43.19)

    Julie mentions several possible ancestors (Mary, Queen of Scots; William Wallace; and Macbeth) who were all accused of treason even though whether they actually committed treason is open to interpretation. You know, kind of like Julie.

    It was bad enough Maddie suspected the reason Queenie was at her side now was because she'd had to give up on the lad whose gun they'd taken over. Bad enough. But there had also been a pilot in that ball of flame, a living young man with not much more training than Maddie herself. (1.11.XI.43.61)

    People on both sides are dying all the time. War books can be a real bummer sometimes.

    "It could." Queenie was sober now. "Unless you were doing them a favor by killing them. Then you'd let them down if you didn't. If you couldn't make yourself. My great-uncle had horrible cancers in his throat and he'd been to America twice to have the tumors taken out and they kept coming back, and finally he asked his wife to kill him, and she did. She wasn't charged with anything—it was recorded as a shooting accident, believe it or not, but she was my grandmother's sister and we all know the truth." (1.11.XI.43.166)

    After Julie's death, Maddie surmises that Julie must have included this story because she thought they would have to blow up the Ormaie Gestapo with her inside. But that's only one interpretation. Why do you think Julie tells this story? We love that it turns out to be true.

    If I am very lucky—I mean if I am clever about it—I will get myself shot. Here, soon. Engel didn't tell me this; I thought it out myself. I have given up hoping the RAF will blow this place to smithereens. (1.18.XI.43.5)

    You know you're in deep trouble when getting shot can be described as "lucky." In the end, Julie does manage to get herself shot. Do you think she's lucky? The bar for luck is certainly set pretty low in war.

    I am no longer afraid of getting old. Indeed I can't believe I ever said anything so stupid. So childish. So offensive and arrogant.

    But mainly, so very, very stupid. I desperately want to grow old. (1.18.XI.43.17-18)

    Julie's old fear of the old folks' home seems pretty distant and silly when she's faced with a concentration camp instead. We'd take shuffleboard every time, too.

    It's awful, telling it like this, isn't it? As though we didn't know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It's like watching Romeo drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, "You stupid ass, just wait a minute," and she'll open her eyes! "Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don't die this time!" But they always do. (1.23.XI.43.26)

    This is a universal truth about watching Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, and other Leonardo DiCaprio movies made in the 1990s. The end is inevitable, and we feel powerless watching, kind of like we feel when reading Code Name Verity.

    Mary Stuart had her Skye terrier—what comfort will I take with me to my execution? What comfort for any of us—Marie, Maddie, the cabbage-stealing scullion, flute girl, the Jewish doctor, alone at the guillotine or in the air or in the suffocating freight wagons?

    And why? Why? (1.28.XI.43.15-16)

    That story about Mary Stuart's dog makes us tear up every time. Poor little puppy. At least Julie gets to see Maddie right before she dies.

    Oh Julie, wouldn't I know if you were dead? Wouldn't I feel it happening, like a jolt of electricity to my heart? (2.13.1)

    Oh, Maddie. Worry not—you're going to know. Oh, how you're going to know.

    But I don't believe they killed her, either. I just don't believe it. I keep thinking of those pictures of the pilot. They must have shown Julie those pictures by now, and perhaps she thinks I'm dead. But I'm not. And it's the same for her; I'm sure of it. It might look like she's dead, but she's not.

    [...]

    I don't believe she's dead, I don't believe any of their bluff and lies and bullying threats. I don't believe she's dead and I WON'T believe she's dead until I hear the shots MYSELF and see her fall. (2.13.10,14)

    This is what we like to call foreshadowing, sports fans. Maddie is going to come closer to Julie's death than she can even imagine.

    I saw her body flinch—the blows knocked her head aside as though she'd been thumped in the face. Then she was gone.

    Gone. One moment flying in green sunlight, then the sky suddenly gray and dark. Out like a candle. Here, then gone. (2.17.63-64)

    What do you think of this as a description of death? It's awfully short, but it recalls moments from earlier in the novel that make us think of Maddie and Julie's history together.

  • Society and Class

    The bike shop whose customers were in question happened to be Maddie's granddad's bike shop that he'd had for the last thirty years. He'd done quite well out of it, well enough to keep Maddie's stylish gran in the manner to which she is accustomed, and they live in a large old house in Grove Green on the edge of the city and have a gardener and a daily girl to do the housekeeping. (1.8.XI.43.78)

    In contrast with Julie's, it's sometimes hard to remember that Maddie's family is quite solidly middle-class. Maybe there's no butler thrown in, but a gardener and a maid sound like a pretty sweet deal to us.

    She spoke in a cultured accent of money and privilege. Rather like mine, without the Scottish burr. Probably not as privileged as mine, but more moneyed. Anyway, it made Maddie instantly feel like a serving girl. (1.8.XI.43.93)

    Dympna Wythenshawe is the first female pilot Maddie meets. Does Dympna's social class give her more freedom than most other women? Does it cause people to respect her more as a legitimate pilot? Remember: these are pretty sexist times.

    "Take a pew," Dympna drawled (just imagine she's me, raised in a castle and educated at a Swiss boarding school, only a lot taller and not sniveling all the time). (1.8.XI.43.99)

    Aside from being from similar social backgrounds, do Dympna and Julie have much, or anything, in common? Why might this be?

    Maddie snorted. Queenie was devoted to careless namedropping, scattering the details of her privileged upbringing without the faintest hint of modesty or embarrassment (though, after a while Maddie began to realize she only did it with people she liked or people she detested—those who didn't mind and those she didn't care about—anyone in between, or who might have been offended, she was more cautious with). (1.11.XI.43.79)

    People do sometimes give you funny looks when you tell them you live in a castle. Don't ask us how we know. Julie scatters a ton of information about her privileged status throughout her confession, so according to Maddie here, she must either love them or loathe them.

    "Ah've nae wish tae disturb ye, Missus—" her well-bred, educated accent suddenly developed an irresistible Scottish burr. "We've come frae RAF Maidsend and Ah've had this wee spot o' bother wi' me bike. Ah wondered—" (1.11.XI.43.148)

    Here we see Julie pretending, as she loves to do, hiding her privileged background to get in good with someone who wouldn't be able to relate to it at all.

    "Och aye," Queenie agreed. It could not be a problem she ever encountered, with her educated upper-crust vowels, but being a Scot, she sympathized with any distrust of the soft Southern English. "You've only one more fear to go—make it good." (1.11.XI.43.160)

    Maddie is afraid people will make fun of her Manchester accent. Do we ever see Maddie change the way she talks for any reason, or is this talent limited to Julie?

    Here I think I should remind you that my family is long-established in rather the upper echelons of the British aristocracy. Maddie, you will recall, is the granddaughter of an immigrant tradesman. She and I would not ever have met in peacetime. Not ever, unless perhaps I'd decided to buy a motorbike in Stockport—perhaps Maddie might have served me. But if she hadn't been such a cracking radio operator and been promoted so quickly, it's not likely we'd have become friends even in wartime, because British officers don't mingle with the Lower Ranks. (1.18.XI.43.47)

    So something good came out of the war, at any rate: Maddie and Julie got to be BFFs. Given their different backgrounds, this never would have happened otherwise.

    At any rate, Maddie's growing misgivings on this particular ill-conceived railway journey were mostly based on her certainty that she simply could not go knock on the door of a Laird's Castle and ask for accommodation, or even a cup of tea while she waited for the return train. She was only Maddie Brodatt and not a descendent of Mary, Queen of Scots, or Macbeth.

    But she had not taken the War into account. I have heard a good many people say that it is leveling the British class system. Leveling is perhaps too strong a word, but it is certainly mixing us up a bit. (1.18.XI.43.49-50)

    Julie is writing this, and it seems possible that her privileged upbringing has blinded her a bit to how, though this is wartime, more doors still open for her than they do for Maddie.

    My name is a bit of a defiance against the Führer all on its own, a much more heroic name than I deserve, and I still enjoy writing it out, so I will write it again, the way I write it on my dance cards:

    Lady Julia Lindsay MacKenzie Wallace Beaufort-Stuart

    But I don't ever think of myself as Lady Julia. I think of myself as Julie. (1.28.XI.43.8-10)

    This passage is interesting because Julie makes a point of telling us her full, titled name, but then she insists that's not how she thinks of herself. Looks like someone has some complicated feelings about her identity…

    Sometimes Julie used to make me jealous—her cleverness, her ease with men, how posh she is—the grouse-shooting and the Swiss school and speaking three languages and being presented to the king in a blue silk ball gown—even her MBE after she caught those spies, like being knighted, and especially her term at Oxford—and I hate myself for ever having thought any of it was worth envying. (2.11.30)

    Many of the things Maddie has envied in Julie are things that contributed to Julie being chosen for the work that led to her capture by the Gestapo. How does her life of privilege betray or aid Julie in the end?

  • Truth

    She set about lighting the cigarettes and announced in her brisk, straightforward French, "I don't want to waste my time listening to propaganda. It's my job and I'm wise to it. I'll be frank with you—I'm looking for truth. Je cherche la vérité." (1.20.XI.43.17)

    How soon were you on to Georgia Penn's game? Could she make it any more obvious? Of course, she and Julie are the only ones in the room who know Julie's code name, so it's clearly not obvious to von Linden and Engel, who probably chalk up her slightly odd choice of words to translation difficulties.

    "Verity," I said in English, and exhaled every last molecule of nicotine and oxygen I had inside me. Then gasped: "'Truth is the daughter of time, not authority.'" And: "'This above all, to thine own self be true.'" I gibbered a bit, I confess. "Verity! I am the soul of verity." I laughed so wildly, then, that the Hauptsturmführer had to clear his throat to remind me to control myself. "I am the soul of verity," I repeated. "Je suis l'ésprit de vérité." (1.20.XI.43.25)

    For once, Julie's calm gets disturbed when she hears her code name, and she has to buy some time. And what better way to buy time than by slipping in some sweet literary quotes? That's what we always do.

    "Don't you ever lie? What the hell do you do? What do you tell your daughter? When she asks about your work, what truth does the lovely Isolde get out of you?" (1.25.XI.43.22)

    Julie asks the tough questions, no doubt. And seriously, if you're a Gestapo officer, what do you tell your kids about what you do all day? There seems to be a message here, too: everybody lies. Julie's not the only one, and in this book, we can't trust anyone to be what they seem.

    After my fiasco last night, I think they killed her for no reason other than to scare me into confessing that I have lied to them. It is my fault she is dead—one of my worst fears realized.

    But I have not lied. (1.25.XI.43.61-62)

    The Ormaie Gestapo is at the point where they've finally worked out that Julie has led them down all sorts of false paths. She knows she's lied, and they know she's lied… So why does she insist she hasn't?

    But I have told the truth. Isn't that ironic? They sent me because I am so good at telling lies. But I have told the truth. (1.28.XI.43.18)

    Three days after Marie's execution, Julie's still insisting that she's told them the truth. However, as Julie admits many times, she's great at lying and pretending.

    I have told the truth. (1.28.XI.43.25)

    Okay, we get it. This is the phrase Julie chooses to write over and over when she is done with her confession. For all she knows, these will be the last words anyone knows she has said. So why choose these?

    Verity, Verity, must remember to call her Verity. Bother. (2.4.1)

    It seems like everyone else in Operation Dogstar has code names from Peter Pan—everyone except for Julie, that is. But then again, she's not quite like the rest of them.

    Mitraillette gently unlocked my fingers from the Colt .32 and made me put it away. She whispered, "C'était la Vérité?" Was that Verity?

    Or perhaps she just meant, Was that the truth? Was it true? Did any of it really happen? Were the last three hours real?

    "Yes," I whispered back. "Oui. C'était la vérité." (2.18.7-9)

    We love us a good double meaning, and here we get verity as a person and verity as a concept, not that these are necessarily separate concepts for Maddie.

    What's strange about the whole thing is that although it's riddled with nonsense, altogether it's true—Julie's told our story, mine and hers, our friendship, so truthfully. It is us. We even had the same dream at the same time. How could we have had the same dream at the same time? How can something so wonderful and mysterious be true? But it is. (2.20.5)

    Ah, an answer at last to the question of how all Julie's lies could be true. The Gestapo wanted a confession, which is exactly what they got—just not a confession about the British war effort. Instead Julie wrote them a true story about her friendship with Maddie, using that cover story to hide the fact that she wasn't giving anything away.

    Even started off blubbing just listening to the radio message that let us know they were going to pick me up that night. "After a while, all children tell the truth"—in French it's "Assez bientôt, tous les enfants disent la vérité." I am sure they stuck the word vérité in there on purpose, but they couldn't have known it would make me think of the last page Julie wrote—I have told the truth, over and over. (2.25.54)

    Does everyone in the novel eventually tell the truth? Is anyone still lying at the end? Or lying about some things and telling the truth about others?