Why Ordinary People are the Focus in Doerr's Novel, All the Light We Cannot See

Prompt: ‘There are no heroes or villains in Doerr’s novel, only ordinary people.’

In ‘All the Light we cannot See’ Anthony Doerr highlights how even in the extreme circumstances of World War II, people still retain their human nature, with all its faults. Through Werner Pfennig’s life in particular, the author illustrates that poor judgement, not intrinsic cruelty made him into a tool of the Nazi war machine. Similarly, through Marie-Laure LeBlanc we see that necessity and good will, not inborn ‘bravery’ made her into the hero of Saint Malo.

However, in Von-Rumpel we see how the less forgivable side of human nature: selfishness, can become the driving force in a malevolent single-minded attack on innocent peoples’ lives. Through these characters’ lives the author shows the audience that war brings out not only the best, but the worst in people as well and that the true nature of a person’s character will eventually shine through regardless of the situation.

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By carefully selecting the elements of Werner’s life that the author describes, Doerr emphasises how the attributes that Werner has as child before the war ultimately shine through years later regardless of the machinations of the Third Reich and the brainwashing of the Hitler Youth. Perhaps Werner’s most notable attribute as an ‘eight [year] old’ is his single-minded dedication, ‘when perhaps every other child in Zollverein is out doors’ Werner is repairing his first radio after three weeks’ of trying. This single-mindedness is similarly reflected in his curiosity with maths and how, ‘all [he] wants to do are mathematics problems.

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Unfortunately, it is this vision that actually blinds him to the truth, that his nation is committing ‘atrocities.’ When to opportunity arises to become an engineer he blindly follows the promise of ‘code breaking, rocket propulsion, all the latest.’ It is only years later that he realizes how blind he has been and finally redeems himself. However, throughout the book the author eludes to Werner’s redeemable nature: how he had ‘[shoved … back’ the doubts that have been ‘slipping in like eels’ over the years ‘by memorizing lyrics or the routes to classrooms.’ In this way Doerr shows the audience that it even common human traits that can lead us down a dark path and at the same time other similarly common traits no more or less admirable can redeem us.

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Why Ordinary People are the Focus in Doerr's Novel, All the Light We Cannot See. (2022, Apr 07). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/why-ordinary-people-are-the-focus-in-doerr-s-novel-all-the-light-we-cannot-see-essay

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