The Unknown Soldier is another favorite of mine in Dimanche and Other Stories. Set during WWII following the German invasion of Belgium, the story takes place at a railway station in France, where two French soldiers, Claude and Francois who had come home for their sister’s wedding are waiting to return to the front. While they are waiting, Claude the elder brother of the two decides to tell Francois about a German soldier he had killed in an ambush during reconnaissance duty. The identity of the German soldier had revealed a secret about their father leaving the two brothers to confront their past and the implications the revelation has brought.
I liked what Némirovsky implied in The Unknown Soldier. People tend to think in terms of us vs. them, and it is heightened during war times and in politics. We are blinded by the differences among us to a point where we don’t see how trivial these distinctions are. So we let them divide us instead of realizing how much we have in common with each other. We may have different skin colors, believe in different religions, be from various cultures, but at the end of the day we all are human beings trying to lead peaceful and happy lives with our loved ones. Némirovsky uses her plot twist to remind us it is time to get over this us vs. them mentality which is pitting us against each other.