All the Light We Cannot See Major Character Analysis

Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

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All the Light We Cannot See Major Character Analysis

Marie-Laure LeBlanc

Marie-Laure LeBlanc is one of the protagonists of the novel. Age 16 during the siege of Saint-Malo in August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc has been blind since age 6. Her father, Daniel, a genius locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, raises her by himself. He encourages Marie-Laure to navigate the world without fear, despite her blindness. He teaches her to read Braille, which opens a new, imaginary world to her. Daniel is the chief influence in Marie-Laure’s life, even after his arrest and disappearance during the war.

Other influences in Marie-Laure’s life include her great-uncle Etienne, who escapes occupied France with her through imaginative play and reading books such as Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle together. Though he encourages learning, and gives Marie-Laure her treasured copies of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, perhaps the greatest influence of all on Marie-Laure’s character and outlook is Madame Manec. Madame Manec teaches Marie-Laure to live as much as she can, for as long as she can.

Marie-Laure takes Madame’s advice. She has a successful career, a daughter, a grandson, and as happy a life as she can. Marie-Laure’s life is testament to the fact that a person can endure great hardship and live a satisfying life, even if they never completely escape the scars of the past.

Werner Pfennig

Werner Pfennig is the second protagonist of the novel. Werner is age 18 during the siege of Saint-Malo, when he rescues Marie-Laure and helps her escape the city during a brief cease-fire.

As a child, Werner’s interest in science is encouraged by a Frenchman’s broadcasts: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever” (282). The drive to see and learn all that he can is the major theme of Werner’s life and a significant key to his character.

Intelligent, gentle, creative, and determined, Werner finds a way out of the coal mines which killed his father through admission to a Reich-sponsored school, where he can learn the higher math and science necessary for him to become a scientist or an engineer. Originally, Werner sought entrance to the school…

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