All the Light We Cannot See | Study Guide

Anthony Doerr

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All the Light We Cannot See | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1934

    Marie-Laure LeBlanc, age 6, lives in Paris with her father.

    Part 1
  • Same year

    Werner Pfennig, age 8, lives in the Children's House orphanage in Zollverein, Germany.

    Part 1
  • Same year

    Marie-Laure hears the tale of a cursed diamond kept in the museum vault.

    Part 1
  • Later that year

    Marie-Laure loses her eyesight.

    Part 1
  • About the same time

    Werner finds and fixes his first radio, revealing a gift for complex mechanics.

    Part 1
  • June 3, 1940

    As the Germans bomb Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to Saint-Malo.

    Part 1
  • About the same time

    Werner begins his training at the National Political Institute.

    Part 3
  • Some weeks later

    Etienne shows Marie-Laure his secret radio transmitter in the attic.

    Part 3
  • During this time

    Von Rumpel begins hunting for the cursed diamond, the Sea of Flames.

    Part 3
  • December 1940

    Marie-Laure's father is arrested by German police and imprisoned.

    Part 3
  • Winter 1941

    Werner helps develop and test a new device for tracing secret radio transmissions.

    Part 3
  • About the same time

    Madame Manec organizes a French resistance group in Saint-Malo.

    Part 5
  • Spring 1942

    Werner joins a team to hunt and destroy enemy radio transmitters and their operators.

    Part 5
  • June 1942

    After Madame Manec dies, Etienne uses his radio to broadcast codes for the resistance.

    Part 7
  • April 1944

    Werner and his team are sent to Saint-Malo to track down enemy transmissions.

    Part 7
  • Summer 1944

    Von Rumpel comes to Saint-Malo to seize the Sea of Flames.

    Part 4
  • August 6, 1944

    Marie-Laure discovers the diamond hidden in a carved model of Etienne's house.

    Part 9
  • August 7–8, 1944

    At midnight American forces begin to bomb Saint-Malo's citadel.

    Part Zero
  • Four days later

    Saved by Werner, Marie-Laure throws the diamond in the sea.

    Part 10
  • Later in August

    Werner is killed when he steps on a landmine planted by German troops.

    Part 10

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Epigraphs The novel opens with two epigraphs, or short quotations setting the stage for the story to come. The first is a quote fr... Read More
Part Zero At dusk, leaflets pour from the sky, warning residents of a walled town to head for the open country. Later that night... Read More
Part 1 In 1934 Marie-Laure is "a tall and freckled six-year-old" living in Paris. Her eyesight is rapidly failing. One day, o... Read More
Part 2 The fortress city of Saint-Malo shatters, crumbles, and erupts in flames as the bombers finish their work, peel away, ... Read More
Part 3 In June 1940 Marie-Laure and her father reach the town of Evreux two days after fleeing Paris. The town is in chaos, a... Read More
Part 4 From the peninsular fortress just outside Saint-Malo, Sergeant Major von Rumpel views the bombed and burning city. He ... Read More
Part 5 The school is in recess, and Frederick invites Werner to spend it at his home in Berlin. It is clear to Werner that hi... Read More
Part 6 Marie-Laure sits very still on the third-floor landing, listening to someone enter the house. She does not know if it ... Read More
Part 7 At dawn a "dangerously underweight corporal" named Neumann Two—to distinguish him from the driver, Neumann One—comes t... Read More
Part 8 On the afternoon of August 9, 1944, the shelling of Saint-Malo abruptly stops. About 4:00 p.m., a single shell from an... Read More
Part 9 In a flashback to May 1944, Werner is haunted by the image of the red-haired child in the velvet cape shot in Vienna. ... Read More
Part 10 Still trapped in the cellar, Werner is listening again to Marie-Laure's voice on the radio, reading. Impulsively he cl... Read More
Part 11 In January 1945 only four girls are still living at Children's House: Hannah and Susanne Gerlitz, Claudia Förster, and... Read More
Part 12 Frank Volkheimer lives in West Germany, in the suburbs of Pforzheim. He lives in a third-floor walk-up, and installs a... Read More
Part 13 On a Saturday morning in March, an elderly Marie-Laure and her grandson, Michel, walk through the Jardin des Plantes. Ic... Read More
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