Meanwhile Marie-Laure’s great-uncle Etienne is cowering inside the Fort National, just outside of the city. The bombs are seconds away from being dropped. Suddenly, there’s a loud roar—loud enough to turn people deaf. Werner and the Austrians fire their guns, but hit nothing. In her room, Marie-Laure cowers and holds the tiny stone close to her chest. In the cellar where Werner is sitting, the light bulb in the ceiling goes out.
The first part of the novel ends with a poignant image: a light bulb going out. It’s fitting that this is the last image in the prologue, as Doerr has created an impression of characters who are, symbolically or literally, “blind” to much of reality. The title of the novel suggests a similar thing—a chaotic world in which nobody is able to understand what’s going on. There might be “light,” hope, and connection after all, but we usually can’t see it.