All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See


Anthony Doerr

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All the Light We Cannot See: 3. Jungmänner Summary & Analysis

Werner has arrived at the National Institute, a huge, imposing building where he’ll spend the next two years of his life. The masters at the Institute are aggressive, imposing people. They tell the boys that they’ll “breathe nation” for the next two years. Werner, still fourteen years old, makes friends with a bookish boy named Frederick who likes animals.
Werner is both an insider and an outsider at his new school. He’s admired for his Aryan appearance, but seems to align himself with the nerdiest and least Nazi-like student there, Frederick. Frederick is similar to Werner—they both have a love for science and understanding how the world works.
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon
In class, Werner and Frederick study biology, and learn from an old “scientist” who tells them about the German’s superiority to the Jew. They also study Goethe, and learn science. Everyone is taught how to load and fire a rifle. They rejoice in the glory of the Führer, and of Germany.
The education Werner receives at school is disturbing, because it mixes racist pseudoscience with legitimate facts, so that the students can’t tell the difference. For the students, the fact that force equals mass times acceleration is no different from the fact that the German race is superior to others. “Führer” means “leader” in German, but the word is now forever associated with Hitler, as it was his usual title during his rule.
World War II, the Nazis, and the French Resistance Theme Icon
Science and “Ways of Seeing” Theme Icon