Remember, I’m giving the first three weeks of school to you to complete this assignment. It has a hard deadline of 9/6.
We are reading the novel All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It is a story about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History where he works. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris, and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea.
In a German mining town, an orphan named Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. He becomes expert at fixing these new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the Resistance.
Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.
Before you start reading, you may want to check out these resources explaining the background of the novel.
First, the novel takes place during World War II, but the reader only learns things as the characters do, so the progression and reasoning of the war is never explicitly outlined. The reader is meant to draw on previously acquired background knowledge of the war to fully understand what is happening at points. If you do not know much about WWII, you may want to look through some of these resources below before you begin reading, otherwise you may miss many of the allusions in the novel.
A Brief History of WWII: Obviously, a general knowledge of how the war came to be, who fought on which side, how the war advanced and ultimately ended are all beneficial to know, as this novel will stretch over almost the entirety of the war. The History Channel has put together a comprehensive outline of the war, which you may find here:
Nazi Propaganda: Ever wonder how a whole nation ended up backing Hitler? Propaganda was a large contributor. In the novel, we will see these narratives be woven for one of the characters, Werner, as he grows up under Hitler. This link gives rich background to the purpose and thought behind the propaganda:
Second, it may be easier for you to picture what is going on in the story if you are able to picture it. Saint-Malo, France is a real place, and below you can find some resources that may help you picture where a large part of the story is going on (although, Doerr’s imagery is so vivid, you may not even need these pictures.
Setting of Saint-Malo: The French port-city of Saint Malo is a key setting in the novel. It is the city that is pictured on the front of the novel.
Click and drag in the pictures above and below to experience all 360°
It is highly recommended that you acquire your own physical copy of the novel.
Here is a convenient link where you can order it off of Amazon (do not order anything without your parents’ permission): www.amazon.com/All-Light-We-Cannot-See/dp/1501173219/ref=cm_sw_em_r_dp_v_dc_x0IizbPJ9FK5K_lm
If you cannot acquire your own physical copy of the novel, you may find a full PDF version here (it works best if downloaded and used with an eBook reader, such as Kindle or iBooks, especially if being read on a smartphone):
After you finish reading this novel, you will complete the following assignment. This will be due at the start of the fall semester.
You may either download and print out the attached assignment and work through the assignment on the print out, or you may copy the questions onto notebook paper and turn it in that way. Please make sure you read all directions and answer every part in full.
Here are some supplemental videos you may enjoy.
First, the author, Anthony Doerr, talking about how he came up with this story and what his main purposes in writing it were:
Second, the song “Clair De Lune” by Debussy appears frequently in the novel. This is what it sounds like:
Third, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is also repeated. If you are unfamiliar with the story, here is a short video summary: study.com/academy/lesson/20-000-leagues-under-the-sea-summary-quotes-characters.html