All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

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Daniel LeBlanc Character Analysis

Marie Laure’s father, Daniel LeBlanc, is selflessly devoted to his daughter—indeed, he spends long hours teaching her Braille and crafting elaborate models of Paris (and later Saint-Malo) to teach her how to walk through the city without her eyesight. In general, Daniel is clever and good with his hands—a talent that makes him an accomplished locksmith at the Museum of Natural History before he’s forced to flee the Germans along with his daughter. Because his employers at the Museum have tasked him with the protection of a priceless diamond, the Sea of Flames, Daniel leaves his daughter in Saint-Malo, is later imprisoned, and eventually dies of influenza. Daniel’s absence in Marie-Laure’s life is one of the defining and most tragic themes of the novel—a sign of their sincere love for one another.

Daniel LeBlanc Quotes in All the Light We Cannot See

The All the Light We Cannot See quotes below are all either spoken by Daniel LeBlanc or refer to Daniel LeBlanc . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Fourth Estate edition of All the Light We Cannot See published in 2015.
Zero (August 7, 1944): Number 4 rue Vauborel Quotes

Marie-Laure twists the chimney of the miniature house ninety degrees. Then she slides off three wooden panels that make up its roof, and turns it over. A stone drops into her palm. It’s cold. The size of a pigeon’s egg. The shape of a teardrop. Marie-Laure clutches the tiny house in one hand and the stone in the other. The room feels flimsy, tenuous. Giant fingertips seem about to punch through its walls. “Papa?” she whispers.

Related Characters: Marie-Laure LeBlanc (speaker), Daniel LeBlanc
Related Symbols: The Sea of Flames, The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Marie-Laure--trapped in a house in a town that's about to be bombed by airplanes--stumbles upon a precious stone, hidden inside a tiny model of the house. The passage is especially confusing, considering that at this point in the book, we have no idea what the stone is, who Marie-Laure's father is, why she's trapped in the house, etc. Essentially, the passage is like a "cold-open" in a TV show--it draws our attention because we need to lean in just to figure out what's going on.

One important thing to notice about the passage, even before we're aware what's going on, is that Marie-Laure draws a connection between the stone and her father; she seems to feel his presence, even when he's nowhere in sight. The ambiguous presence of Marie-Laure's father, Daniel, points to an ongoing theme of the book--the sense of deep, uncertain longing that family members feel for one another. Notice as well the analogy Doerr draws between the tiny house being pried open by Marie-Laure's fingers, and the literal house seeming to be pried open by "giant fingertips." Right away, Doerr is implying a connection between the tiny house and the house itself--perhaps suggesting that Marie-Laure (and we, the readers) can learn about big, complicated historical events by studying tiny, model-size objects like the model house.

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One (1934): Key Pound Quotes

He sweeps her hair back from her ears; he swings her above his head. He says she is his émerveillement. He says he will never leave her, not in a million years.

Related Characters: Marie-Laure LeBlanc , Daniel LeBlanc
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

In this early scene, Daniel, the happy father of Marie-Laure, tells his daughter that he'll never leave her. Because we've read the Prologue to Doerr's novel, however, we know that in just a few years Marie-Laure will be on her own, with her father nowhere nearby. Right away, then, Daniel's promise to his daughter comes across as bittersweet--we know he's not going to be able to keep it.

The quotation is important because it establishes the close bond between father and daughter--a bond that will continue to motivate both characters throughout the book. Even after she loses contact with Daniel, Marie-Laure will try to find him; her love for her father will give her strength throughout some of the darkest years of World War II. Without this initial portrayal of the two's relationship, Marie-Laure's actions later in the novel wouldn't make much sense: we can't understand her unless we recognize that she adores her father.

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Daniel LeBlanc Character Timeline in All the Light We Cannot See

The timeline below shows where the character Daniel LeBlanc appears in All the Light We Cannot See. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
One (1934): Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
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...LeBlanc is a tall, pretty 6-year-old living in Paris. She’s slowly going blind. Her father Daniel works in the Natural History Museum, and decides to send his daughter on a children’s... (full context)
One (1934): Key Pound
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...can do nothing for her. Everyone in Marie-Laure’s community pities her—indeed, they even pity her Marie-Laure’s father , who’s had a tough life. His own father died in World War I, and... (full context)
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Marie-Laure’s father tries to stay optimistic about Marie-Laure’s condition. He trains her to guide herself without the... (full context)
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Marie-Laure’s father makes sure that his daughter is given as good an education as he can get... (full context)
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On weekends, Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father walk around Paris, enjoying all the things in it that cannot be seen: delicious smells... (full context)
One (1934): Take Us Home
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Growing up, Marie-Laure loves to solve the puzzles her father (Daniel) gives her on her birthdays. Each puzzle is a beautifully carved wooden object—often a box,... (full context)
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One day, Marie-Laure’s father presents her with a beautiful model of Paris. He instructs her to study the model... (full context)
One (1934): Light
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Over the following weeks, Marie-Laure’s father forces her to practice moving about the city with her cane. She studies the model... (full context)
One (1934): Around the World in Eighty Days
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...She also starts to imagine everyone and everything in her life in a different color. Marie-Laure’s father is olive-green, her mother is white, the kitchen in her house is red, etc. (full context)
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...novel, savoring its fanciful plot and charismatic characters, like Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout. Because Marie-Laure’s father is too poor to buy her many other books, she reads Around the World in... (full context)
One (1934): Sea of Flames
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...anything. She reads whatever she can find, and especially enjoys the last book her father Daniel bought her: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. (full context)
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Marie-Laure, remembering the stories of the cursed Sea of Flames, asks her father Daniel if he believes the curse is real. Marie-Laure’s father replies that he doesn’t believe it... (full context)
One (1934): Fade
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...diamond will curse her beloved father. She tries to convince herself that Dr. Geffard and Marie-Laure’s father are right—the diamond is just another rock, albeit a very pretty one. (full context)
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...up find two new boxes. The first is a wooden puzzle-box, which she solves easily— Marie-Laure’s father is highly impressed. The second box contains her newest book, a copy of Part 1... (full context)
One (1934): Rumors
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...father if he’s concerned about the German invasion. Although the Germans have already invaded Austria, Marie-Laure’s father insists that there’s nothing to be concerned about. Marie-Laure tries to calm herself by reading... (full context)
One (1934): Mark of the Beast
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...blind girls before they take the gimps.” This episode disturbs Marie-Laure greatly, and she asks Marie-Laure’s father what will happen if there’s a war in France. Her father tries to reassure her... (full context)
One (1934): Bye-bye, Blind Girl
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...trying to keep their exhibits safe from damage. On the morning that Marie-Laure turns twelve, Marie-Laure’s father gives her the second volume of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but no puzzle-box. Marie... (full context)
One (1934): Flight
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...late. Marie-Laure sits at home, trying to concentrate on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Suddenly, Marie-Laure’s father comes home from the museum and tells her that they need to leave, quickly. He... (full context)
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Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father quickly walk through the streets of Paris. Marie-Laure counts her steps, carefully keeping track of... (full context)
One (1934): Exodus
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Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father walk through Paris, trying to find a way out of the city before the Germans... (full context)
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That night, Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father sleep outside in the woods. When Marie-Laure falls asleep, her father takes out a small... (full context)
Two (8 August 1944): Number 4 rue Vauborel
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...alone in her room, clutching the stone in her fist. She calls her father’s name, Daniel, and wonders if her great-uncle Etienne has managed to survive the bombing as well. She... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Château
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Two days have gone by since Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father fled Paris. They enter the town of Evreux, which is in a state of chaos.... (full context)
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Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father continue walking through the city. They decide to go to a hotel on the outskirts... (full context)
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Marie-Laure’s father explains to Marie-Laure that they’re trying to find his uncle, Etienne, Marie-Laure’s great-uncle. Etienne is... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Brittany
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Marie-Laure and Marie-Laure’s father make their way to the town of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s Great-Uncle Etienne lives. As the... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Madame Manec
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As the chapter begins, Marie-Laure’s father is introducing her to an old woman named Madame Manec. Manec seems overjoyed to meet... (full context)
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...is so famished that she eats everything she’s given in only a few minutes. Meanwhile, Marie-Laure’s father discusses Etienne with Manec. Marie-Laure comes to understand that Manec is her great-uncle’s maid and... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Occupier
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In the following days, Marie-Laure asks Marie-Laure’s father about the German invasion of Paris. He explains that the soldiers have occupied the city,... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Etienne
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...Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. As Etienne and Marie-Laure get to know each other, Marie-Laure’s father is walking down the streets, watching Nazi soldiers keep patrol. (full context)
Three (June 1940): The Boches
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...French foods, stimulating the local economy. Nevertheless, Marie-Laure is becoming homesick for Paris. She asks Marie-Laure’s father when they’ll return—he replies that he doesn’t know. Marie-Laure’s father also warns her not to... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Time of the Ostriches
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Time goes by, and still Marie-Laure and her father Daniel don’t return to Paris. Marie-Laure is eager to return, and calculates that she’s spent about... (full context)
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...is the “time of the ostriches”—everyone’s head is buried in the sand. All this time, Marie-Laure’s father continues whittling models of the buildings. (full context)
Three (June 1940): Mandatory Surrender
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Marie-Laure’s father has just learned that the people of Saint-Malo must surrender their radios immediately—anyone who refuses... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Letter #5: to Daniel LeBlanc
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On December 10, 1940, a man named Daniel LeBlanc, living in Saint-Malo, receives a telegraph telling him to return to Paris at the... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Bath
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...the city—eventually she’ll be able to move about freely through the streets. Meanwhile Marie-Laure’s father (Daniel) has been going through a crisis lately. He obsesses over the diamond he’s been carrying... (full context)
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...a pang of guilt: he’ll be leaving without her. Marie-Laure asks, “You’re leaving, aren’t you?” Daniel reluctantly replies that he is, and insists that he’ll only be gone for about ten... (full context)
Three (June 1940): The Arrest of the Locksmith
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Daniel LeBlanc is arrested just outside of Paris. Police officers look through his possessions, and find... (full context)
Four (8 August 1944): Two Cans
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...to find a set of cans. She remembers going to the Panthéon with her father Daniel, years ago. There, they watched Foucault’s pendulum spinning across the floor, “grooving and regrooving its... (full context)
Five (January 1941): He Is Not Coming Back
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Marie-Laure wakes up one day, thinking that her father Daniel has returned from Paris. But this is only the wind—her father has been gone from... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Plage du Môle
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Marie-Laure’s father has been gone from her life for 29 days. One day, Marie-Laure hears Madame Manec... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Letter #6: To Marie-Laure, from Daniel
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Daniel LeBlanc sends his daughter a letter. He explains that he is in Germany. He claims... (full context)
Five (January 1941): The Rounds
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Marie-Laure wonders what has become of Daniel. She feels the model city he built for her, and wonders about the letter he... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Letter #7: Daniel LeBlanc to His Daughter
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In this letter, Daniel tells his daughter that the people in his cell are very kind, and entertain him... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Visitors
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...in Paris. Marie-Laure notices that the officers smell like they’ve “been feasting.” They explain that Marie-Laure’s father has been convicted of conspiracy and theft, and sent to prison. They add that they... (full context)
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...officers ask Marie-Laure, Manec, and Etienne more questions. They ask to see the letters that Daniel sent to Marie-Laure. Etienne produces these, and they read them carefully. The officers also ask... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Letter #10: Daniel LeBlanc to His Daughter
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Daniel LeBlanc sends Marie-Laure a letter in which he tells her that her parcels have arrived,... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Heaven
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...to rest for a while. Manec tells Marie-Laure that she must continue to believe that Marie-Laure’s father will return to her. Manec insists that people should never stop believing in what’s important... (full context)
Six (8 August 1944): Sixth-floor Bedroom
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...daughters, and wishes he could have built beautiful models for them, of the kind that Daniel built for his daughter. As he looks for the stone, the city is very quiet. (full context)
Seven (August 1942): The Wardrobe
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...the sixth floor of the house. Then he tells Marie-Laure what he’s been contemplating. Although Daniel has begged him to keep Marie-Laure safe, Etienne wants Marie-Laure to help him fight alongside... (full context)
Seven (August 1942): Grotto
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...Although she’s exhilarated by her participation in the resistance, she can’t help but think of Daniel as well. She imagines reuniting with him one day. She remembers him saying, “I will... (full context)
Seven (August 1942): The Messages
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Marie-Laure receives another letter from Daniel. The letter contains the line, “If you ever wish to understand, look inside Etienne’s house,... (full context)
Seven (August 1942): Rue des Patriarches
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Von Rumpel inspects the large model of Paris he sees in the middle of Daniel’s apartment. As he stares more closely at the model, he remembers the intricate designs of... (full context)
Eight (9 August 1944): In the Attic
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...house, but she knows that this is foolish—she’ll be safest here. She imagines talking to Daniel. In her imagination, her father encourages her to stay where she is, even though she’s... (full context)
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...fehlt, wo bist du Häuschen?” but Marie-Laure doesn’t know what this means. In her imagination, Marie-Laure’s father tells her not to open the cans for fear that the intruder will hear her.... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Numbers
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...from a man named Jean Brignon. Brignon had previously agreed to tell von Rumpel about Daniel Leblanc, on the condition that von Rumpel help Jean Brignon’s cousin. Brignon now tells von... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Big Claude
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...and is rewarded with food and money. When von Rumpel arrives in Saint-Malo, looking for Daniel LeBlanc, he talks to Claude. Claude points von Rumpel to Etienne’s house. (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Grotto
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...collected any snails—she’s lying. The man asks Marie-Laure to answer some questions about her father Daniel, and he tells her that Daniel is in prison 500 kilometers away. Marie-Laure’s heart sinks.... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Nothing
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...is standing in the grotto, answering the man’s questions. He has asked her about what Daniel was doing during his six months in Saint-Malo. As the man talks to her, Marie-Laure... (full context)
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...Marie-Laure that he’s been searching for “treasures” for many years. He wants to know what Daniel left behind for Marie-Laure. Marie-Laure immediately answers, “Nothing.” Surprised by Marie-Laure’s boldness, the man falls... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Little House
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...also remembers what her interrogator in the grotto asked her: he wanted to know if Marie-Laure’s father was carrying anything for the museum. Finally, Marie-Laure remembers the letters her father sent her.... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Sea of Flames
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Marie-Laure studies the Sea of Flames, which she has just discovered inside Daniel’s model of Saint-Malo. She can tell that the stone is beautiful, but it intimidates her... (full context)
Ten (12 August 1944): Fort National
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...eyes and tries to remember his past. He thinks about his house, about his nephew Daniel, and about Madame Manec. He thinks of Marie-Laure and her love for 20,000 Leagues Under... (full context)
Ten (12 August 1944): Are You There?
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...ask, in French, “Are you there?” The mysterious person might as well be Madame Manec, Marie-Laure’s father , or Etienne—he symbolizes everyone who’s ever abandoned her. The man whispers, in clumsy French,... (full context)
Eleven (1945): 177. Paris
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...the same apartment where Marie-Laure used to live. Every day he looks for news of Daniel, but never finds any. Marie-Laure reunites with Dr. Geffard. She thinks about what’s become of... (full context)
Twelve (1974): Laboratory
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...passed away, but before his death he and Marie-Laure tried to determine what happened to Daniel. They hired a private investigator, who learned that Daniel was sent to a labor camp... (full context)
Thirteen (2014)
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...walk the streets as well: the souls of Etienne, Madame Manec, Werner Pfennig, and even Marie-Laure’s father . Perhaps their souls are walking the streets, but the living just don’t know it. (full context)