All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

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All the Light We Cannot See Five (January 1941): Frederick Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Werner has been transferred to the German army. Before he’s shipped out, however, he makes a trip to Berlin, using the last of his savings. In Berlin, he goes to Frederick’s house, and meets Frederick’s mother for the first time in nearly a year. Frederick’s mother tells Werner to be careful when talking to Frederick—Frederick might not remember Werner at all.
Werner goes out of his way (even spending the last of his money) to try and make things better with Frederick. After finally trying to stand up to the Nazis and finding himself powerless, Werner still feels tremendously guilty about betraying his friend. Werner recognizes that even if he himself never bullied Frederick, he didn’t stop anyone else from doing it.
Themes
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
Werner goes to see Frederick, who is sitting in bed, being fed his meal. Frederick seems only dimly aware of who Werner is. Werner mentions Frederick’s collection of bird drawings, but Frederick doesn’t remember this collection at all. He then confuses Werner with his own mother. Upset and uncertain, Werner leaves Frederick’s house and walks through Berlin. The city is empty and quiet, not at all like the city Werner dreamed of as a child.
This is an early sign that the scenes of reconciliation and reunion in All the Light We Cannot See are nearly always anticlimactic, or even tragic. Werner tries to apologize to Frederick, but it’s too late—there will never be a true reconciliation between Frederick and Werner, because Frederick no longer remembers who Werner is.
Themes
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon