“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr is a luminous and poignant novel that weaves together the lives of two distinct characters during the tumultuous period of World War II. Marie-Laure, a blind French girl, and Werner, a German orphan, find their paths intersecting in the war-torn city of Saint-Malo.
Marie-Laure, living with her father in Paris, flees to Saint-Malo when the Nazis occupy Paris, bringing with her a valuable and dangerous jewel. Werner, a gifted young boy with a knack for fixing radios, is swept into the brutal realities of war as he joins the Hitler Youth and later, the German army.
The novel is a mesmerizing tapestry of human resilience, the brutality of war, and the enduring power of hope and humanity. Doerr masterfully crafts a narrative that is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking, exploring themes of survival, moral ambiguity, and the impact of war on the innocent.
The quotes from the book resonate deeply, reflecting the profound and often harrowing experiences of its characters. They speak to the universal truths of human existence – the quest for understanding, the nature of fear, the complexities of bravery, and the omnipresent yet often unseen light that guides us through our darkest times.
“All the Light We Cannot See” is not just a story about the physical realities of World War II; it’s a meditation on the invisible forces that bind our lives – love, loss, and fate. Doerr’s language is evocative and lyrical, turning each page into a vivid scene that stays with the reader long after the book is closed. This novel is a remarkable achievement, a reminder of the light we can find even in the darkest of times.
All the Light We Cannot See Quotes
Here are some stand-out quotes from All the Light We Cannot See:
1. How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?”
2. “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
3. “We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.”
4. “You know the greatest lesson of history? It’s that history is whatever the victors say it is. That’s the lesson. Whoever wins, that’s who decides the history. We act in our own self-interest. Of course we do. Name me a person or a nation who does not. The trick is figuring out where your interests are.”
5. “Don’t you want to be alive before you die?.”
6. “A line comes back to Marie-Laure from Jules Verne: Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.”
7. “She walks like a ballerina in dance slippers, her feet as articulate as hands, a little vessel of grace moving out into the fog.”
8. “Every outcome has its cause, and every predicament has its solution.”
9. “We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”
10. “What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father recreated in his models… None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.”
11. “But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?.”
12. “The brain is locked in total darkness, of course, children, says the voice. It floats in a clear liquid inside the skull, never in the light. And yet the world it constructs in the mind is full of light. It brims with color and movement. So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?.”
13. “This, she realizes, is the basis of all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.”
14. “It’s embarrassingly plain how inadequate language is.”
15. “I am only alive because I have not yet died.”
16. “Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.”
17. “When I lost my sight, Werner, people said I was brave. When my father left, people said I was brave. But it is not bravery; I have no choice. I wake up and live my life. Don’t you do the same?”
18. “What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.”
19. “To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.”
20. “Sometimes the eye of a hurricane is the safest place to be.”
21. “To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness. Beneath your world of skies and faces and buildings exists a rawer and older world, a place where surface planes disintegrate and sounds ribbon in shoals through the air.”
22. “Do you know what happens, Etienne,” says Madame Manec from the other side of the kitchen, “when you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water?” “You will tell us, I am sure.” “It jumps out. But do you know what happens when you put the frog in a pot of cool water and then slowly bring it to a boil? You know what happens then?” Marie-Laure waits. The potatoes steam. Madame Manec says, “The frog cooks.”
23. “War is a bazaar where lives are traded like any other commodity: chocolate or bullets or parachute silk.”
24. “Is it right,” Jutta says, “to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”
In conclusion, the quotes from “All the Light We Cannot See” encapsulate the essence of Anthony Doerr’s masterful storytelling, vividly portraying the poignant journey of its characters through the harrowing times of World War II. Each quote is a window into the novel’s soul, reflecting the deep themes of resilience, moral complexity, and the indomitable human spirit.
Doerr’s words weave a rich tapestry of emotions and experiences, capturing the heartache and beauty of life amidst chaos and destruction. The novel, through these powerful quotes, not only tells a compelling story of two individuals caught in the tide of war but also offers profound insights into the human condition. It’s a testament to the power of hope, the resilience of the human heart, and the unseen light that guides us through darkness, making it a timeless read that resonates with a profound and universal truth.