Study Guide

Code Name Verity Truth

By Elizabeth Wein


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?

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