All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See


Anthony Doerr

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All the Light We Cannot See: 9. Sea of Flames Summary & Analysis

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 of its reputation of doom. Marie-Laure tries to convince herself that the diamond’s “curse” is just a story—it’s no different from any of the other carbon stones in the Earth’s mantle.
Throughout the book, there’s been a noticeable conflict between the ordinary and extraordinary, or between fate and random chance. The diamond is an apt symbol of this ambiguity. It is a priceless gem but also just a lump of carbon—a cursed object, but also totally powerless and meaningless.
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Late at night, Etienne wakes up and goes into Marie-Laure’s room. He explains that he’s going out, but will be back very soon. Marie-Laure points out that the Allies could begin bombing the city any day now—he could be caught in the middle of an air raid. Marie-Laure then asks him a question that’s been disturbing her for some time—does he regret having to take care of her? Without a second of hesitation, Etienne replies, “You are the best thing that has ever come into my life.” With this, he leaves the house.
Etienne’s words to Marie-Laure are touching—we can sense that he’s been feeling these sentiments for a while—but also a little sad. His parting has an elegiac tone, as if this is the last time he’s ever going to see his beloved grand-niece. For her part, Marie-Laure’s question suggests that she too is now sucked into the idea of the diamond’s curse, and wonders if she has doomed Etienne and Saint-Malo itself by possessing the stone.
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