All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See


Anthony Doerr

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All the Light We Cannot See: 7. Prisoners Summary & Analysis

In the summer of 1942, Werner has just begun his tour of the German army. A corporal welcomes Werner—now wearing a helmet and uniform—to the army by saying, “You’re little.” He’s sent to a train which will take him out to the frontlines. On the way, the train passes by another train. To Werner’s horror, he sees that the train is carrying huge numbers of naked, hungry-looking men. Another soldier, “Neumann Two,” explains that they are prisoners. They’ve been captured, and now are being sent to be murdered.
Of course Werner is little—he’s two years younger than the army believes him to be, and he’s always been small for his age as well. Our first impressions of the German army are chilling: the soldiers are blank-faced and seemingly oblivious to the horrific sight of thousands of prisoners being moved around them. Perhaps this was the point of the bucket of water test at the National Institute—training soldiers to become desensitized to suffering.
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