The Alteration of One's Mind: Book All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

World War II was an atrocious war fought between the Allied Powers—France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and less important China—and Axis Powers—Germany, Italy, and Japan. Although both sides proved themselves to be corrupt, the Axis Powers did the bare minimum to cover their actions that demonstrate their corruption. The Axis Powers set up prison camps which belittled human beings by stripping them from their clothes, starving them, and, most present, killing them. All of these actions, while more present on the Axis Powered side, seemed to have negatively affected people's minds in which it impacted.

In All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr proved the importance of how war negatively altered the minds it came across.

Marie-Laure and Werner Pfennig were extremely separated. Marie-Laure and Pfenning were both very restricted at the moment, which just further symbolized the separation between the two protagonists. Even if they had a chance of being united, they would not have had the ability to.

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When in the cellar, Werner started to think back to his somewhat positive childhood. At first, he thought of his brother Frau Elena, then the shimmering stars that passed the window at night, and lastly his sister, Jutta. Suddenly the next thing he remembered was a radio voice of his childhood, which brought him back to present time when he began to think of negative images. “He sees a forest of dying sunflowers. He sees a flock of blackbirds explode out of a tree” (15).

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The imaginations were evidence proving that just the little portion of the war that Werner suffered through negatively shocked his memory into thinking of nightmarish pictures. Werner thoroughly described a good childhood filled with positive memories, when, all of a sudden, images related to war replaced the memories. The nightmares may have led Werner to obey the Nazi’s in order to never recreate them.

Werner Pfennig began to obey the Nazi’s in order to fit in with the rest of the crowd. This moment marked the turning point in Werner’s behavior—while his close friend disobeyed the Nazi’s, he continued to mimic the crowd and do his “duty”. Werner had a lot more to lose than Fredrick, which is why he did what he did. Werner had a strong compassion to be a scientist, which would not be accomplished if he was sent to war or back to the mines by disobeying the authorities. On the other hand, Frederick had a rich family to go home to, allowing him more freedom to express his own beliefs. When Werner was granted his turn to torment innocent people, he does exactly as the rest of his colleagues did.

Werner “throws the water like all the other and the splash hits the prisoner in the chest and a perfunctory cheer rises. He joins the cadets waiting to be released. Wet boots, wet cuffs; his hands have become so numb, they do not seem his own” (229). The war had led authorities to force him into hurting innocent prisoners which he would have never done before hand. All of the stress built up on Werner pressured him into doing what he knew wasn’t himself in doing so.

After doing everything in his will to support the greater good, Werner still felt he was in the wrong. Werner covered up barely helping Frederick by doing other good deeds. More directly, rather than helping him in public or opposing the authorities in general, he only encouraged him in private. Werner feels something is o

Updated: Aug 17, 2022
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The Alteration of One's Mind: Book All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. (2022, Mar 31). Retrieved from

The Alteration of One's Mind: Book All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr essay
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