All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See Three (June 1940): Etienne Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It takes Marie-Laure three days before she meets Etienne. On the third day, she finds a whelk shell in her new bathroom. To her amazement, she then discovers a long trail of shells, stretching from the bathroom to the fifth floor of the building. A voice calls Marie-Laure to come in to a room. There, Marie-Laure finds her great-uncle.
Before Marie-Laure meets Etienne, she already forms an impression of him. Etienne seems whimsical, clever, and prone to playing games—just like Marie-Laure’s father. Etienne also immediately associates himself with shells and whelks, already a source of interest for Marie-Laure and symbolism for the novel itself.
Themes
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
Etienne greets Marie-Laure, and asks her if she’d like to see his collection of radios. He shows her stereos, and radios he’s built with his own hands. Marie-Laure instinctively like Etienne—he seems calm, like a great, old tree. Etienne shows Marie-Laure books, including Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. As Etienne and Marie-Laure get to know each other, Marie-Laure’s father is walking down the streets, watching Nazi soldiers keep patrol.
Etienne shares many of his great-niece’s interests, including science and exploration, and is clearly clever and skilled with his hands, like Marie-Laure’s father. Etienne also owns many radios, reminding us of the connections between Marie-Laure’s life and Werner’s—radio seems a crucial aspect of this connection. The presence of the Nazi occupiers disrupts this otherwise idyllic scene.
Themes
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Interconnectedness and Separation Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon