All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See


Anthony Doerr

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Henri LeBlanc Character Analysis

Marie-Laure LeBlanc’s grandfather and Etienne LeBlanc’s brother, Henri LeBlanc was a bright, intelligent young man who was killed in World War I. Although he’s rarely mentioned in the novel, he exerts a powerful influence on both of the main characters: his radio broadcasts on scientific topics inspire Werner to become a scientist, while his commitment to broadcasting information partly inspires Marie-Laure to enter the French Resistance and bravely oppose the Nazis in her city.

Henri LeBlanc Quotes in All the Light We Cannot See

The All the Light We Cannot See quotes below are all either spoken by Henri LeBlanc or refer to Henri 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Fourth Estate edition of All the Light We Cannot See published in 2015.
1. The Professor Quotes

Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can with them before they close forever, and then a piano comes on, playing a lonely song that sounds to Werner like a golden boat traveling a dark river, a progression of harmonies that transfigures Zollverein: the houses turned to mist, the mines filled in, the smokestacks fallen, an ancient sea spilling through the streets, and the air streaming with possibility.

Related Characters: Werner Pfennig (speaker), Henri LeBlanc (speaker)
Related Symbols: Vision, Radio
Page Number: 48-49
Explanation and Analysis:
1. Open Your Eyes Quotes

The voice, the piano again. Perhaps it’s Werner’s imagination, but each time he hears one of the programs, the quality seems to degrade a bit more, the sound growing fainter: as though the Frenchman broadcasts from a ship that is slowly traveling farther away.

Related Characters: Werner Pfennig, Henri LeBlanc
Related Symbols: Radio
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
7. The Bridge Quotes

He says, “The war that killed your grandfather killed sixteen million others. One and a half million French boys alone, most of them younger than I was. Two million on the German side. March the dead in a single-file line, and for eleven days and eleven nights, they’d walk past our door. This is not rearranging street signs, what we’re doing, Marie. This is not misplacing a letter at the post office. These numbers, they’re more than numbers. Do you understand?”
“But we are the good guys. Aren’t we, Uncle?”
“I hope so. I hope we are.”

Related Characters: Marie-Laure LeBlanc (speaker), Great-Uncle Etienne LeBlanc (speaker), Henri LeBlanc
Page Number: 360
Explanation and Analysis:
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All the Light We Cannot See PDF

Henri LeBlanc Character Timeline in All the Light We Cannot See

The timeline below shows where the character Henri LeBlanc appears in All the Light We Cannot See. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Three (June 1940): The Professor
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...radios and books. Marie-Laure also asks Etienne about the mysterious locked bedroom where her grandfather Henri supposedly lived. Etienne takes Marie-Laure to the bedroom, and opens the door. He leads her... (full context)
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...the same lecture Werner and Jutta listened to years before). Etienne explains that his brother, Henri (Mari-Laure’s grandfather) was good at everything. Years ago, during World War I, Etienne and Henri... (full context)
Five (January 1941): Grotto
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
...Marie-Laure that he used to play in this area, along with Etienne and Marie-Laure’s grandfather Henri. Manec insists that they must go back to the house, and Bazin agrees. But he... (full context)
Nine (May 1944): Forty Minutes
Family Theme Icon Suddenly, he realizes where she must be—the grotto where he played with his brother, Henri, years ago. Etienne runs to the grotto, where he finds Marie-Laure, sitting on the ground,... (full context)