When Marie-Laure comes through the front door with the bread, when he’s opening the tiny scroll with his fingers, lowering his mouth to the microphone, he feels unshakeable; he feels alive.

This quotation occurs in Part 7 and describes how Etienne feels revitalized once he begins to participate in acts of resistance against the German occupation. Etienne has spent much of his life feeling afraid because of the trauma he suffered during the first World War. He is haunted by his memories, and terrified to even leave his house. As such, initially, Etienne is too afraid to take part in the resistance that Madame Manec organizes. It is not until after she dies that Etienne decides to honor her memory by using his radio equipment to broadcast secret messages to thwart the German war effort. Though it was the deaths he witnessed in the first World War that traumatized Etienne, it is also a death that liberates him. When Madame Manec dies, Etienne realizes that he honors no one with his passivity, and he finds the will to begin to resist.

Though taking part in high-risk resistance efforts would make most people more fearful, the effect on Etienne is the opposite. He begins to feel stronger and more confident once he is playing an active role in standing up for his principles. This change in his character is significant because it shows that individuals have a deep need to live in alignment with their moral values, and to use their talents and skills as a force for good in the world. As Werner has been suppressing his moral qualms about the Nazi party in order to serve his ambitions, Etienne has also been suppressing his desire to stand up for his principles by resisting the Germans. By participating in the resistance, Etienne goes from passive to active, and is finally able to reclaim a place for himself in the world.