The Student Room Logo

Un sac de billes chapter by chapter

I did un sac de billes for A level french and wrote out a chapter by chapter (in english) and figured I'd put it online because there aren't many resources for it. Apologies if I missed any important points.

Chapter I

Joseph and Maurice play marbles, say a little about where they live, and play a joke on two german officers on two german officers- by covering up the 'jewish shop' sign so they go in to have their hair cut

Chapter 2
The Germans have a very tense haircut and say the war is Jewish people's fault, then amend their statement to only the 'rich jews fault' when they learn they are in a jewish shop. Joseph and Maurice get in trouble for their trick, and are tucked into bed with stories of their very impressive sounding grandfather (stories that are partially based off real life)
Chapter 3

Jews now have to wear yellow stars and Joseph and Maurice go to school with them on, with Joseph being slightly embarrased about his. His friend Zérati finds it cool and tells everyone to look, and he is then insulted. He is ignored by his teacher and beaten up at break, when he then goes home and has the afternoon off with his brother (who also got beaten up). They roam around Paris and have fun, deciding to steal a little money from the till and buy eucalyptus cigarettes. At night, their dad tells them they must now escape, like him and his ancestors have all had to do. He gives them 5,000 francs to make it to the free zone on the train. He says he and their mother will follow.

Chapter 4

Maurice and Joseph find the train station packed with people, and buy a ticket without problem. They also find the train is packed with nowhere to sit so, avoiding carriages with german soldiers, they on the floor. They inspect their lunches (ham sandwiches). Joseph laments about having so much money but not being able to buy so much as a grenadine They talk too an old lady 'grandma' and lie about why they're travelling and she offers them a drink of lemonade. He sees a priest which makes him feel safe. He has a nightmare, but wakes up for Dax. The train is emptier, People having jumped off as it slowed to avoid the german guards. They avoid them by finding a place next to the Priest but see a man being shot for trying to run away. The old lady is arrested

Chapter 5
They go to a nearby village and eat at a cafe, which is seemingly full of other Jewish people waiting to cross the border. They meet a young teen who says he can get them across the border for cheaper than the other smuggler. They do his job of delivering parcels and love the freedom it brings. Maurice also remembers the route across the forest and leads other refugees across for more money. They set off after the farmer of the barn they slept in gives them breakfast. Maurice is exhausted and Jo has an awful blister, so when they finally stop, Jo takes intiative and hitches a ride for them from 'le compte de V' who takes them to catch the train for Marseille.

Chapter 6

They see the sea for the first time and love everything avaliable in the big city eg. the cinema. They take the train to their brothers Henry & Albert and decide to get jobs, to help with their upkeep.Jo gets a job with a farmer and his wife, but has to quit to go back to school. However his is told parents have been arrested. Hengst leaves to attempt to save them and manages to save them! Their parents now live in Nice. However, more bad news in the form of a work mandate (STO), meaning they would have to work for the germans, arrives for Henri and Albert and so to avoid this they all head to Nice.

Chapter 7

In Nice, the boys have set up trade for certain black market goods and are friendly with the Italian soldeirs. Theur older brothers have jobs as hairdressers. Maurice and Jo reluctantly head to school again and more misfortune occurs as Italy leaves occupied zones and soldeirs desert in droves. The gestapo and german soldiers then arrive.

Chapter 8

The Joffo family must split up once again, Maurice and JO head to camp 'moisson Nouvelle' run by M. Subinagi, where they try their hand at pottery but ultimately find a job in the kitchen. There are many other Jewish kids there who all pretend to be German supporters. They pick a cover story, inspired by their friend Ange who claims he came from Algeria on holiday and left his documents at home. They then travel down to Nice with a camp leader but get arrested and taken to the Hotel Excelsior.

Chapter 9
The camp leader admits easily to being Jewish and Maurice and Jo uphold that they aren't Jewish, even when separated and interrogated- saying they were circumcised for medical reasons etc... They pretend to be catholic. They are kept for a long time and slowly loose hope. They see a friend from camp, Masso, among others, who says the camp had been raided by the germans and many people had been arrested, although Subinagi gave out safe addresses. Jo gets meningitis and collapses and has to go to hospital. When he recovers, Maurice is told he must fetch their baptism certificates and return in 48 hours or they will kill Joseph. He asks the local priest and their parents for help who procure faked certificates. The germans are angry and try to trick them into running away so they can shoot them. They don't fall for the trick and after the local preist petitions for their release multiple times they are set free.

Chapter 10

They return to Moisson Nouvelle and call their father, only to learn they must go on the run again as he has been arrested. They go to their sister, Rosette and her husband and are unhappy to be away from the sea. A kindly lady feed them and lets them stay in her shop overnight on theri way to theri sister. In theri short time at their sisters village they learn there is a spy who will alert the germans of Jews so they must leave.

Chapter 11

After briefly living with their family, they once again separate for a village where Jo has a job with the Mancelier family in a bookshop and Maurice works in a hotel. M. Mancelier is a 'Pétaniste' and the village dislikes him but he doesnt know Jo is Jewish. Jo experiences going to church and also trades ration coupons. Maurice and Jo try to join the resistance but can't as they're too young. They are estatic when they hear France has been liberated and he defends M. Mancelier from the justice/mob rage of the village by saying he's been hiding a Jew for a year. He then catches the nearest train to Paris to be with his family. His father has died in a concentration camp but the rest of his family are ok
Reply 1
omg thank youuu. this is such a life saver

Quick Reply