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The Effects of War on One’s Life in All The Light We Cannot See

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Despite disabilities, everyone is affected by warfare one way or another. Anthony Doerr touches on this topic in his novel, All The Light We Cannot See. It focuses on Marie-Laure Leblanc, a French girl who loses her eyesight at the age of six. After fleeing from Paris with her father named Monsieur Leblanc, she quickly learns how to adapt to the new town of Saint-Malo with the help from the model of the town that her father has carved out for her, along with her cane. Doerr supports the idea of how tragedies do not put an end to an individual’s way of life through Marie-Laure’s speech, thoughts, and actions.

Doerr describes how the tragedy of war does not change the way Marie-Laure feels about her safeness. Chaos strikes Paris and her father rushes home informing her that they must leave by train. Marie-Laure can be seen in fear as she asks questions at the train station. She goes on to ask “And the armies?” which her father answers, “There are no armies, Marie.” Doerr states, “His hand finds hers. Her fear settles slightly. Rain trickles through a downspout”. As tragedy is striking Paris, Marie-Laure fears that the army of Germans will arrive before they get onto the train. Her father reassures her that there are no armies and continues on to hold her hand and let her ease. Despite all the warfare in Paris, Marie-Laure does not let her fears become a force that is beyond her control. As the ongoing tragedies on Marie-Laure’s life continue, she learns that certain disabilities do not stop her from living the life she desires.

The way an individual thinks can change the outcome of the situation. Marie-Laure does not let her loss of eyesight put an end to the life she desires. Her imagination is her way of ‘seeing’ things and she lets it take the place of her eyesight. For her ninth birthday, Marie-Laure receives a large braille book. She spends her time working her way through the novel, suggesting its imaginative plot and charismatic characters. Marie reads and “imagines Jules Verne’s characters walking along the streets, chatting in shops…across the room is a miniature girl, an open book in her lap; inside her chest pulses something huge. Something unafraid.” As Marie-Laure begins to read, she connects and aspires to the characters in it. Her imaginative mind enables her to visualize the book in her head. Her ambition is to understand the world using her creative imagination. She also aspires to do the same act as Phileas Fogg, someone in the book who uses their imaginative mindset to understand the world. Marie-Laure not being able to see does not disable her from imagining a life she desires. The loss of eyesight does not change her way of life.

Anthony Doerr enhances his idea of how tragedies do not put an end to an individual’s way of life through Marie-Laure’s actions. Marie-Laure’s instincts of survival do not fail her. As bombs are dropping over her head, she uses her navigation skills to navigate her way to safety despite not being able to see. She says to herself, “Six paces to the stairwell…eight curving stairs to the bottom…eight paces down the hall into the third-floor bathroom.” Marie-Laure forces herself out of bed, out of the house and makes her way down to the cellar. While someone used to relying on their vision might be disoriented by the bombing, Marie-Laure’s training with navigation gives her a huge advantage as she makes her way down to the cellar. With Marie-Laure’s determined mindset, she does not let her loss of eyesight cease her from possessing the same abilities as someone who could see.

All in all, Anthony Doerr utilizes these characterizations to further communicate his theme that tragedies, whether national or personal, does not stop an individual’s way of living life. Doerr reveals this theme using the speech, thoughts, and actions of Marie-Laure Leblanc. Marie-Laure Leblanc encounters many tragedies in her life that include war at her hometown and her loss of eyesight. These tragedies, however, do not put an end to the way she lives life. Her struggles have proven that tragedies do not stop someone from being ordinary.           

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The Effects Of War On One’s Life In All The Light We Cannot See. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 22, 2022, from
“The Effects Of War On One’s Life In All The Light We Cannot See.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021,
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