The vast majority of All the Light We Cannot See takes place during World War II. Although the novel itself covers many of the major European events of the era—the Holocaust, the Russian sieges, the invasion of Paris, the Allied invasion of France, etc.—Doerr doesn’t do much summarizing, and he assumes that his readers have a certain amount of knowledge of World War II. With this in mind, it’s important to consider more details about…(read full theme analysis)
All the Light We Cannot See is written in an unusual style. The novel consists of almost two hundred chapters (no more than two or three pages each), narrated in the present tense, usually from the perspectives of Werner Pfennig, a German boy, or Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a French girl. For the majority of the book, these two plots aren’t connected in any strong way—it’s only toward the end that Werner and Marie-Laure meet…(read full theme analysis)
One of the key similarities between the two plots in All the Light We Cannot See is the existence of an exceptionally strong, loving family relationship. Werner Pfennig is extremely close with his sister, Jutta Pfennig, just as Marie-Laure LeBlanc is extremely close with her father, Daniel LeBlanc. In the novel, these family ties are different from other kinds of relationships, and they play unique roles in the characters’ lives.
In the case…(read full theme analysis)
All the important characters in All the Light We Cannot See are invested in a certain “way of seeing”—a worldview that allows them to make sense of the complex world. Sometimes, a character chooses one way of seeing in order to compensate for not having access to another. The clearest example of this is Marie-Laure, who turns to marine biology and reading largely because, as a blind person, she doesn’t have access to…(read full theme analysis)