As Kael makes clear, this country bumpkin—who falls in love with the daughter of a Jewish tailor, Albert Horn, who is attempting to keep our of Gestapo sights, but nonetheless is forced to dress some of its men and women—doesn’t really intend to become a brutal traitor, responsible for many deaths; like so many Europeans, he simply complied to Nazi demands the same way he had been taught to comply with school teachers and the local bourgeoise. When he introduces himself to France Horn, he replies as he has been taught to, expressing his name with the conformance of a schoolboy: Lacombe, Lucien. Like so very many peasant bullies, he sees nothing wrong with taking out his slingshot and killing a beautiful bird singing out its heart in a tree next to the hospital where he scrubs floors. Chickens are kept to have their necks wrung, rabbits exist to be shot. As a farm boy, he sees no brutality in their killing. So how might he possibly be expected to comprehend the politics swirling around him?
I would not describe Lucien, as does Kael, as another representation of the banality of evil—evil is never totally banal given its horrific results—but rather evidence of stupidity and rigidity of class distinctions which so often lay under those who embrace and accept that evil, much like those who strongly voted for Trump. Those folk are anything but banal; they specifically embraced the president’s politics of hatred because they, too, had been rejected and felt left out of the American Dream.