Study Guide

Verity in Code Name Verity

By Elizabeth Wein

Verity

The Many Names of Verity

  • The Narrator
  • Queenie
  • Scottie
  • Eva Seiler
  • Flight Officer Beaufort-Stuart
  • Lady Julia Lindsay MacKenzie Wallace Beaufort-Stewart
  • Julie
  • Verity
  • Katherina Habicht

The Many Faces of Verity

Whew, that's a lot of names, but such is life for a spy during World War II. This character, whom we know only as the novel's narrator when the book opens, reveals her identity very slowly.

First she shows us Queenie, the clever and composed wireless operator Maddie befriends; then we see Eva Seiler, the false and severe identity the narrator takes on when she interrogates German prisoners as a Berlin government liaison. Because we've had indications of her code name from the title, which (spoiler alert) kind of gives it away, we recognize her as the title character when Georgia Penn says "Je cherche la verité" (1.20.XI.43) in her interview. Katherina Habicht is the name on the fake identity papers she loses on her way into France.

Finally—and we do mean finally—we learn the narrator's real name at the very end of Part 1, when she acknowledges that the Gestapo knows her as Flight Officer Beaufort-Stuart but that they do not know who she really is. She tells us:

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 out 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.

I am not Scottie. I am not Eva. I am not Queenie. I have answered to all three, but I never introduce myself by those names.

[...]

I am Julie.

That is what my brothers call me, what Maddie called me always, and that is what I call myself. That is what I told Marie my name is.
(1.28.XI.43.8-11, 13-14)

At the end of her story, the narrator claims the name she wants, the name by which she lives and knows she will probably go to her death under: Julie.

A Privileged Life Prepares You for Spy Duty

From the first page, Julie's frequent references to history and literature indicate that she is extremely well educated, but—like her name—she reveals the full extent of her privilege very slowly.

The first indication of her upper-crust upbringing is in her Maidsend nickname: Queenie. In her conversations with Maddie, Queenie reveals that she went to school in Switzerland, was presented to the king, and grew up in a castle. Of course, all this privilege comes back to bite her because her perfect French and German and lifetime of playing make-believe about her illustrious ancestors mean she is perfectly suited for undercover work for the SOE.

As von Linden and Julie herself observe, there are lots of things about Julie that are unexpected in someone of her background. "I am sure that part of the reason I am treated as such a dangerous lunatic, apart from biting that policeman when I was arrested, is because I am always so foul-mouthed and foul-tempered. […] And I really can't help my foul temper" (1.16.XI.43.28). Further, "Hauptsturmführer von Linden says he has never known an educated person so foul-mouthed as I am" (1.25.XI.43.1). We say cut the girl some slack, dude—if the Gestapo had us, we'd probably be in a bad mood, too.

This Isn't Funny… Or Is It?

Perhaps the aspect of Julie's character most incongruous with her being held prisoner by the Gestapo is her obvious and nearly implacable sense of humor. Granted, most of it is gallows humor, but it's rather amazing that she's able to have any sense of humor at all. Early on, she identifies Queenie as "given to fits of madness" (1.10.XI.43.103), which one would have to be to be as excited about working for the SOE as Julie obviously is, at least early on.

She often talks about her love for flirting, for pretending to be someone she's not, for "the Great Game," as she and the Bloody Machiavellian English Intelligence Officer playing God describe it, quoting Kipling (1.11.XI.43.191). Maddie warns her that she enjoys the game too much. Julie laughs it off, but she plays the game until the end, flirting with the same German soldiers who will eventually cause her death.

Maddie sums up Julie's character this way: "Gloriously daft, drop-dead charming, full of bookish nonsense and foul language, brave and generous" (2.20.6). Best friends know each other well, so we'll take Maddie's word for it.

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