In the days leading up to the Sea of Flames’ display at the museum, Marie-Laure is terrified that the 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.
Marie-Laure is intelligent enough to know that she should believe that the curse is nonsense, but she’s simply not confident enough to believe this—there’s still a part of her that accepts that people are powerless to fight destiny.
On her eleventh birthday, Marie-Laure walks 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 of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. Marie-Laure begins reading it at once, and falls in love with the exotic plot. The main character, a biologist named Pierre Aronnax, insists that science and observation are the key to the universe, not “fables and fairy tales.”
This chapter consists largely of a contrast between superstition and science. The curse of the diamond is a superstition, while the book by Jules Verne is exemplary of science. And yet even if science seems more “correct” than superstition, there’s a sense that science by itself isn’t enough. Marie-Laure’s life seems to be shaped by forces too large and complex to be understood—forces that we might term Fate. After all, even Verne’s work is science fiction—subject to both the laws of science and the whims and fantasies of its author.