All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doer
Analysis of “All the Light we Cannot See” by Anthony DoerrIn this book, Anthony Doerr tried to knit a story set on the holocaust, and World War II. It has everything to be a good novel, but also has elements to that show some flaws. In this essay, we intend to do an analysis of the book in order to gain a thorough knowledge of the relations we can see in it. For instance, in the relation between Marie-Laure and Werner, we will see a budding love that could not be. In the relationship of Marie-Laure and her father, we can see a man so preoccupied for her child. A preoccupation that leads him to construct a replica of the town so Marie could wander safely (Vollman 1). Also, we shall do an analysis of the elements of the book that called our attention, and to finish, we shall do a brief critic of the book. Concerning the book’s theme, we cannot say that this history is only about love, or even about separation, but love is surely one of the moving gears that get the book moving.
Author’s Biography. Anthony Doerr is an American writer born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 27, 1973. He became interested in writing when he was 8 years old, and took odd jobs to support himself while writing (Alter 1). He finished his B.A. in History at Bowdoin College in 199. In his mid-twenties, he published some pieces of writing in magazines. After that, he finished his M.F.A. in writing from Bowling Green University in 1999. (Flanagan 1). After receiving his degree, Doerr decided to pursue his writing career and gets his first literary success with the book “The Shell Collector” in 2002. Doerr is a passionate writer and explores the scientific connection between humanity, and the natural world. The rest of his books intend to capture the notions of connection between people and environment. After “All the Light we cannot see” Doerr gained the fame he deserved. Before that, Doerr used to work in everything that gave him enough money to support himself (Alter 1)
Book Summary. In order to do a thorough analysis, we shall divide the book in different parts. The first part, at the beginning of the book, on where Marie-Laure is presented, the author describes her and speaks about her blindness. The author aims to show a girl that despite her blindness, can easily get by, and live a fulfilling life. Also, this part presents us her father, Daniel, the master of locks for the National Museum of Natural History. Daniel built a representation of the town so her daughter could learn how to move around. The second part happens when both Daniel and Marie-Laure are forced to leave Paris and take shelter in Saint-Malo. In this part, the character of Etienne, Mari-Laure’s Great uncle is presented. Daniel promises to build her a model, as he did in Paris, to help her adapt. Here the book does a twist, and the setting changes completely and the character of Werner appears. Werner is an albino German orphan who has a knack for building, and repairing radios. The kid’s counterpart to Marie’s father is Jutta. Werner’s small sister, whose moral compass sets him apart from his brother, who seizes the opportunity of going to a polytechnic institute to help her from the distance (Vollman 1). Besides it was Jutta who discovered the wire that allowed him to tune the radio and listen to foreign broadcasts.
His prowess got known, and he was invited to attend an institute. However, he felt unhappy there. Because of his abiliies, his superiors ask him to build a transceiver capable of finding all the French illegal radios, so the Nazis can destroy them. The third part starts after Daniel is arrested and sent to a work camp. Marie-Laure discovers the Sea of Flames, the stone her father was hiding and manages to locate the rest of them. In the same way, there is another person looking for the stones, the major von Rumpel, who is dying and wants the powers of the stone to cure his cancer. Etienne, her uncle, is detained for his radio broadcasts and Marie-Laure is left alone. Werner saves the girl from the major von Rumpel. Werner leads Marie-Laure into safety, but steps in a landmine, and dies. 30 years later, Jutta, Werner’s sister is given one of the gems that Marie-Laure’s father had made. Later she travels to France to find Marie-Laure, who now works in the museum as her father did. Both Jutta and Marie discover that Werner had hidden the real Sea of Flames after dying. After the revelation, the book ends with Marie walking around the Paris she knew, along her grandson
Book Analysis. This book is an example of normalization, a process the culture does to cope with images that might be too hard to cope by themselves. In this case we see the Holocaust, and all the horrors of the World War II put in a book in a different way but, in the same way, referring to a situation that caused grief to millions (Rosenfeld 53). Normalization is completely normal and is a part of coming to terms with the past by turning exceptional experiences into banal; amusing; or interesting stories (Kampe 62). “All the Light We Cannot See” might not show some subjects too bluntly, but they are present. For instance, Marie-Laure’s blindness, and her willing to succeed, and follow her father’s footsteps. Her father, who helped are and carried through the worst, and Werner and albino gifted kid. All of them mean something and are present in the story in order to glue parts of it. Without her father’s care, Marie-Laure would have been a regular blind kid, frightened by she cannot see, and unable to live a fulfilling life. In the same way, without her Great-uncle, Werner would not have been able to learn about radios, and would have never built one. (Flood 1) If he would have never built a radio, he and Marie-Laure would not have been able to meet, thus, destroying the book’s premise. In the same way, without Etienne’s help Marie-Laure would have died, or gotten captured by von Rumpel. The book is a series of fortunate consequences, and the development of each situations, and its consequences. The plot is solid, but the author goes back and forth so many times, that it gets confusing, and annoying after a while. In the book, Doerr’s talent is showcased and displayed into the book. His descriptions are pretty complete, and the environment he describes is rich in details and pretty descriptive. We can see glimpses of an influence of the Russian literature in Doerr’s way of describing what surrounds the characters. What really bothers us is that the plot is jagged, and broken into fragments, and it is not after careful reading that the pieces come together. Instead of following a traditional path, the author carries on and goes through the timeline like if he did not care. First we are with Marie-Laure, an adolescent in Saint-Malo, and an 18-year-old Werner, and then the book leaps to Marie’s childhood, and then again to her adolescence, and then again. After all those leaps, the reader gets a little tired, and might be lost. However, the sheer beauty of the descriptions done by Doerr, make us stay put and finish the book from the “beginning” to the actual end. Nevertheless, we would have wanted it to be a little different, with a classical timeline.
If Doerr deserved a Pulitzer, that is not us to decide. All that we can say is that his novel is a great piece of writing that can be confusing sometimes. What surprises us is the way Doerr gave such an intricate book, a format so readable that kept us passing page after page without boredom. It might have to be with the extremely short chapters that have as little as a page and a half. The author was able to sew together many pieces and turn them into something great, weird, but great.
Book Critique. If we were critics, which we are not, we might argue that “All the Light we cannot See” was extremely well written, but it is not of our liking. We would have rather a book with a classical approach and more narrative-driven. What we can see is that Doerr is prefers the prose, rather than the narrative qualities of the book (Callil 1). The history is well-knit, but it is not just quite there, in our opinion. Nevertheless, the structure used by the author, proposes a paradigm shift in the writing profession. This shift might come handy if some other prospective writers are interested in trying something similar. In that case, Doerr is the flag bearer of a new generation of writers who are inclined toward the prose, and the descriptions. Writers who are capable of show us gorgeous environments, without making the book unreadable.
Works CitedAlter, A. “Literary Jackpot, Against the Odds Anthony’s Doerr’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ Hits It Big.” N.Y. Times 26 Dec. 2014. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/27/books/anthonys-doerrs-all-the-light-we-cannot-see-hits-it-big.html?ref=books>.
Callil, C. “All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr Review – a Story of Morality, Science and Nazi Occupation.” The Guardian 17 May 2014. Web. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/17/all-the-light-we-cannot-see-anthony-doerr-review>.
Doerr, Anthony. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel. Scribner Export ed. New York: Scribner, 2014. Print.
Flood, A. “Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Goes to All the Light We Cannot See.” The Guardian 21 Apr. 2015. Web. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/21/pulitzer-prize-fiction-all-the-light-we-cannot-see-anthony-doerr>.
Kampe, Norbert. “Normalizing The Holocaust? The Recent Historians’ Debate In The Federal Republic Of Germany.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 2.1 (1987): 61-80. Print.
Rosenfeld, G. Hi Hitler!: How the Nazi past Is Being Normalized in Contemporary Culture. Cambridge UP, 2014. Print.
Vollman, W. “Darkness Visible ‘All the Light We Cannot See,’ by Anthony Doerr.” N.Y. Times 8 May 2014. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/books/review/all-the-light-we-cannot-see-by-anthony-doerr.html>.