Volkheimer has just detonated a grenade. Werner looks up and sees a mound of stone and wood falling down. The barricade that Volkheimer has built for them breaks apart, and pieces of brick hit Werner’s helmet. Then, slowly, Werner looks up, and finds that he can see the night sky. Volkheimer, who’s apparently unharmed, grabs his rifle and climbs out from under the rubble, pulling Werner with him. They’re amazed to find that they’re standing in the street, staring at the ruins of the once-beautiful Hotel of Bees.
Miraculously, Volkheimer’s plan worked, and he and Werner are seemingly unharmed by the explosion. It could be that it’s just a happy coincidence that Werner and Volkheimer weren’t hurt, but it could also be a kind of miracle, or fate ensuring that Werner and Marie-Laure should finally meet and communicate with each other. As usual, the ambiguity between the sacred and the banal is apparent throughout All the Light We Cannot See.
Volkheimer and Werner stagger through Saint-Malo, barely able to believe that they’re still alive. Volkheimer passes Werner his gun and says, “Go.” He tells Werner that he’s going to search for food. Werner stares into Volkheimer’s eyes—the eyes of a man who’s always looked out for Werner, and, it seems, kept secret the fact that Werner knew about the French broadcast in Saint-Malo. Werner senses that Volkheimer wants him to go to protect the girl in the radio building. Werner turns and runs to Etienne’s house.
Once again, it’s not clear if Werner is accurately interpreting Volkheimer’s expression, or if he’s only projecting his own feelings onto his friend. In any case, Werner runs off to protect Marie-Laure—an unambiguous gesture of support for the French, the supposed enemies of the Germans. Werner is finally a free agent, acting on his own conscience and free will, and no longer feels any fear of or duty to the Nazis.