All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See


Anthony Doerr

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All the Light We Cannot See: 1. Mark of the Beast Summary & Analysis

It is November 1939. Marie-Laure is reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in a park. As she reads, she hears a group of older boys (early teenagers) walking by. One of the boys says, “They’ll probably take the blind girls before they take the gimps.” This episode disturbs Marie-Laure greatly, and she asks Marie-Laure’s father what will happen if there’s a war in France. Her father tries to reassure her that everything will be fine, but at night, Marie-Laure has nightmares about Nazis walking through the streets of Paris.
Marie-Laure and Werner’s storylines are both becoming increasingly influenced by larger political forces, particularly the rise of Fascism. We know that the Germans will eventually invade France and seize Paris, and here, some French children clearly sense that this is about to happen (meaning that there must be plenty of adults who’ve resigned themselves to the possibility). It is true that part of the Nazi agenda came to involve enforced euthanasia for many people with disabilities (“mercy deaths” for those arbitrarily deemed to be drains on society), so this might be a real danger for Marie-Laure in the future.
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