"Von Rumpel feels as if he has come triumphantly to the end of a long journey, and as he sits of the edge of the bed, twin flares of pain riding up from his groin, he has the curious sensation of having been here before…He thinks of his own daughters, how much they would love to see a city on a table."

In the “Sixth-floor Bedroom” chapter of Part Six, von Rumpel explores Etienne’s house searching for Marie-Laure’s model of Saint-Malo. This quotation, which captures the moment he finds the model, offers two contrasting images of who von Rumpel truly is. Referencing his illness, a symbol of his moral corruption, reinforces his identity as the novel’s primary antagonist, but his fond thoughts of his daughters work to humanize him. These two characterizations suggest that even forces of evil are more complex than they appear.

"The house is, he realizes, a container. A receptacle. He plays with it awhile, trying to solve it…His heart rate soars. Something wet and feverish rises onto his tongue. Do you have something inside of you? Von Rumpel sets the little house on the floor, raises his foot, and crushes it."

This quotation, which appears in the “Rue des Patriarches” chapter from Part Seven, highlights how greed and desperation have turned von Rumpel into a monster-like figure. His instinctual, physical response to discovering what he believes to be the hiding place of the Sea of Flames reflects just how deeply his desire to obtain the stone runs. As a result of this uncontrollable need, von Rumple looms over the tiny house and crushes it under his foot. This image, which relies on the disparity between his size and the model’s, makes him appear monstrous both physically and morally.

“That the house stands while so many others have been destroyed is evidence enough. The stone must be inside. He simply needs to find it while there is time. Clamp it to his heart and wait for the goddess to thrust her fiery hand through its planes and burn away his afflictions. Burn his way out of this citadel, out of this siege, out of this disease. He will be saved.”

In the chapter titled “Delirium” from Part Eight, von Rumpel becomes increasingly desperate to find the Sea of Flames due to his belief that it will save his life. The irony in this pursuit is that the brutal methods he uses to try to save his physical life contribute to his moral decline, dooming him to a harsh judgement. Von Rumple’s obsession with finding the Sea of Flames blinds him to the impact of his actions and emphasizes his selfish nature.