Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity

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Code Name Verity Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature.  This 37-page guide for “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 2 parts, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Friendship and Valor.

Plot Summary

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, operates on several levels: as a historical novel detailing the WWII exploits of two British women—a spy and a pilot—behind enemy lines in occupied France; as a thriller, with a twisting plot; and as a coming of age story for two women, who are still teenagers when they meet and become friends during the course of their war work.

The first part of the novel is told by Verity, AKA Julie Beaufort-Stuart, a Scottish aristocrat and spy, currently being held by the Nazi’s in the city of Ormaie inside occupied France. In epistolary form, she writes her “confession,” laying out all she knows of the British war effort,in exchange for better treatment. From the beginning, she confesses that she is a coward, and that she is going to tell the Nazis everything she knows to avoid further interrogation. She has suffered extreme and terrible tortures. She is given two weeks to write her confession, after which she will be executed or sent to a concentration camp.

In explaining what she knows about the British war effort, particularly their air force, Julie begins telling the story of her best friend, Maddie, a pilot.

The two women meet in the course of their war work as radio operators, and soon become best friends. Because of their talents, both women are eventually marked for secret work. Maddie becomes a pilot with the Secret Operations Executive or SOE, and Julie becomes a translator for secret interrogations, or so Maddie thinks. Julie later confesses to Maddie that she is actually the lead interrogator who ferrets out double-agents, working under the name Eva Seiler.

Because of her success at interrogation, the SOE marks Julie for work behind enemy lines as a spy. They train her, and when the time comes to drop her behind enemy lines, Maddie is the pilot who flies her to France. Their plane is damaged by anti-aircraft fire, so Maddie holds the plane steady while Julie parachutes out.

Julie is shown pictures of Maddie’s burned out plane, and she clearly believes that Maddie is dead. Julie’s part of the narrative ends when she runs out of time. Julie’s narrativeis marked by the underlining of certain sentences and conflicting details that lead the reader to believe that there is more to her confession than meets the eye.

The second part of the novel is narrated by Maddie—code name Kittyhawk—as she writes her story after the crash landing in France. She is not killed in the crash; in fact, she is taken in, hidden by, and works with the French Resistance to help find Julie and complete her mission. Julie’s original mission is to blow up the Gestapo HQ in Ormaie—the prison in which she is being held.

The Resistance discovers that Julie is to be transported to a concentration camp and they sabotage the prison transfer. When they see that they will not be able to free Julie, Maddie faces an impossible choice. Julie asks her to kill her quickly rather than let her continue to suffer at the hands of the Nazis. Maddie helps her friend to freedom by killing her.

To avenge her friend’s death, Maddie vows to complete her mission. She receives Julie’s “confession” and reads it; Maddie immediately understands that Julie didn’t give the Nazis any information at all. Far from being a coward, Julie played an elaborate double game by pretending to be a collaborator while trying to find a way to complete her mission from inside the prison.

The members of the Resistance circuit, Damask, succeed in blowing up the Gestapo HQ. Maddie returns to England, and she sends the written record of their undertakings in France to Julie’s mother, believing that her mother deserves to know exactly what happened to Julie.

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