All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo Symbol Analysis

The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo Symbol Icon

Because Marie-Laure is blind, her father, Daniel LeBlanc, builds elaborate models of the cities where she lives—first Paris, then Saint-Malo—to give her a way of training herself to navigate through the city without consulting street signs or using her eyesight at all. In one sense, these models are symbolic of the powerful, intimate love between Marie-Laure and Daniel, but in a broader sense, the city models symbolize humans’ attempts to reduce the big, complicated world to a set of predictable laws. We can see this theme again and again in the novel—Werner thinks that he has things “figured out” because he studies physics; Marie-Laure thinks that her faith in her father’s love will eventually be rewarded by his return; von Rumpel thinks that he can cure his cancer by finding the Sea of Flames, etc. But in the end, Doerr makes it painfully clear that no amount of intelligence and studiousness can help people survive the world’s unpredictability. By the end of the novel, Marie-Laure’s beautiful, “reasonable” model of Saint-Malo is still intact, but now useless, as the city itself is in ruins, bombed by Allied airplanes.

The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo Quotes in All the Light We Cannot See

The All the Light We Cannot See quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo. 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.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other All the Light We Cannot See quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire All the Light LitChart as a printable PDF.
All the light we cannot see.pdf.medium

The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo Symbol Timeline in All the Light We Cannot See

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Models of Paris and Saint-Malo appears in All the Light We Cannot See. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Zero (August 7, 1944): The Girl
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...city that’s about to be bombed. She sits inside her home, next to a beautiful model of the city. Her name is Marie-Laure, and she runs her hands over the model,... (full context)
Zero (August 7, 1944): Number 4 rue Vauborel
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
...is full of loud noises—the noises of sirens and aircraft engines. Marie-Laure feels the city model in her bedroom, as the dozen bombers roar toward her city. (full context)
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...of the aircraft grows louder, Marie-Laure feels for one of the miniature houses in her model. She takes off the “roof” of the tiny house, and finds a small stone underneath... (full context)
One (1934): Take Us Home
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
One day, Marie-Laure’s father presents her with a beautiful model of Paris. He instructs her to study the model carefully, and she does so for... (full context)
One (1934): Light
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...father forces her to practice moving about the city with her cane. She studies the model of the city and then tries to walk around the actual city, but finds it... (full context)
Two (8 August 1944): Down Six Flights
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...and make her way out of her house. She puts the stone back inside the model house, puts the house in her dress pocket, and looks for her shoes. Unable to... (full context)
Three (June 1940): Time of the Ostriches
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...In the meantime, however, she’s become close with Etienne. Her father spends his days making models for her so that she can walk through the streets safely—and in the meantime he... (full context)
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
...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): Bath
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
Marie-Laure’s father has completed his model of Saint-Malo. The model will serve as a way for Marie-Laure to study the city—eventually... (full context)
Three (June 1940): The Arrest of the Locksmith
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...as well as tiny saws. Daniel tries to explain that the saws are for making models for his blind daughter, but he’s thrown in jail anyway. The officers accuse him of... (full context)
Four (8 August 1944): Two Cans
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...delirious sleep in the cellar beneath the house. She finds that she’s still holding the model house, and still wearing Etienne’s coat. She wonders what’s going on outside—if the Germans are... (full context)
Five (January 1941): The Rounds
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
Marie-Laure wonders what has become of Daniel. She feels the model city he built for her, and wonders about the letter he sent her. She hopes... (full context)
Five (January 1941): The Disappearance of Harold Bazin
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...few weeks. Marie-Laure senses that the city of Saint-Malo is slowly being converted into the model in her room—that is, it’s being cleared of all people. (full context)
Five (January 1941): Letter #10: Daniel LeBlanc to His Daughter
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...his daughter that he dreams about being back in the museum. He remembers making Marie-Laure models for her birthday, and ends the letter by thanking the “brave soul” who takes his... (full context)
Six (8 August 1944): Sixth-floor Bedroom
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...been hunting. Rumpel thinks about his own daughters, and wishes he could have built beautiful models for them, of the kind that Daniel built for his daughter. As he looks for... (full context)
Seven (August 1942): Rue des Patriarches
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...mentions that the man had a blind daughter. Inside the apartment, von Rumpel finds tiny models, bottles of glue, and small saws. (full context)
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
Von Rumpel inspects the large model of Paris he sees in the middle of Daniel’s apartment. As he stares more closely... (full context)
Eight (9 August 1944): Delirium
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
...by finding the Sea of Flames. With this in mind, he staggers back to the model of the city—he’s sure the stone is there somewhere. (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Little House
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...the house.” Suddenly, it becomes obvious to Marie-Laure what this means. She rushes to the model of the city of Saint-Malo that her father designed, picks up the model of Etienne’s... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Sea of Flames
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
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 because... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): 7 August 1944
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...eat some breakfast—the loaf of bread Madame Ruelle gave Etienne yesterday. Marie-Laure picks up the model of the house with the Sea of Flames inside it, and hides it under her... (full context)
Ten (12 August 1944): Captain Nemo’s Last Words
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...She can hear the intruder shouting in frustration downstairs. Marie-Laure considers simply giving him the model house with the Sea of Flames in it, but decides that she’ll finish reading Verne... (full context)
Twelve (1974): Volkheimer
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...and P. Immediately, Volkheimer remembers Werner Pfennig. He also sees a photograph of a small model house, which he doesn’t recognize. (full context)
Twelve (1974): Saint-Malo
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...left Essen by train for Saint-Malo. Jutta is carrying Werner’s notebook, along with the tiny model house (which was also in the duffel bag). As the train approaches the town, Jutta... (full context)
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...Max with her. As they walk, Jutta wonders aloud why anyone would have a miniature model of the house. Max suggests that the house is a puzzle that can be opened. (full context)
Twelve (1974): Laboratory
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...replies that the woman has very white hair, and wants to see her about a “model house.” Marie-Laure begins to shake. (full context)
Twelve (1974): Visitor
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...Marie-Laure explains that she left Werner with the key to the grotto, which guarded the model house. She wants to know how Jutta came to acquire the model house—Jutta doesn’t know... (full context)
Twelve (1974): The Key
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...Werner must have gone back to open the gate to the grotto and find the model house. Marie-Laure takes her model house and twists it open. Inside, she finds an iron... (full context)