All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See


Anthony Doerr

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on All the Light can help.

All the Light We Cannot See: 5. Proposal Summary & Analysis

One day in Saint-Malo, Marie-Laure is sitting in her home while Madame Manec and her friends criticize the Nazi tyranny. The Nazis in Saint-Malo tax everything excessively—for instance, Manec’s friend’s daughter wants to get married, but can’t pay the tax for a gold ring. Manec proposes that she and her friends do small things to undermine the Nazi authorities. Many of Manec’s friends refuse to help, reasoning that they have responsibilities to their children and grandchildren, and thus don’t want to endanger their lives. Marie-Laure listens, fascinated, and wonders who will be brave enough to fight back against the Germans.
At the same time that Werner is giving in to the Nazis’ intimidation and authority, Madame Manec is bravely choosing to oppose them in France. Of course, this is an easier choice for Manec than it is for Werner—the Nazis are actively antagonistic to Manec and her peers, and she has very little to lose—she is old and seemingly has no close family she’s responsible for. Werner, on the other hand, is being actively praised and pressured by the authorities and his peers, and he is unwilling to give up his dream of becoming a scientist for the sake of his morals. Nevertheless, Manec appears as an inspiring example of the French Resistance, and how people of all ages and walks of life can find small ways of changing things and asserting their agency—if they are brave enough and choose to do so.
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Fate, Duty, and Free Will Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon