Chapter 0

Protagonist/s:  Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner Pfennig

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Antagonist/s:

Time: 7th August 1944

Summary: Hours before the bombs are dropped in the city of
Saint-Malo; leaflets are dropped to inform the inhabitants to evacuate. The
story’s protagonists, 16-year-old Marie-Laure and 18-year-old Werner Pfennig
both have not yet evacuated.

Marie-Laure is a blind girl and is
alone in her great-uncle, Etienne’s house.

Werner is a soldier in the
German army, staying at “the Hotel of Bees”.

Marie-Laure is fumbling with a
model her father made of the city of Saint-Malo. The model carries a sacred
diamond inside named the Sea of Flames. Werner on the other hand takes shelter
with his fellow soldiers in the cellar.

The bombing then begins.

Theme: The audience first feels a little confused, as there is very
little information provided of why everything is happening. This chapter
clearly has not introduced the characters properly and the story starts during
the climax. The uncertainty the audience first feels is used on purpose to
intensify the feelings of chaos and confusement the characters in the book
feel. Throughout this chapter there is a sense of loneliness; as danger is
coming, both characters long for their family. For Marie-Laure, it is her father, for Werner it is his sister and the orphanage that he grew up in.

Chapter Zero is a very tense.

 

Chapter 1

Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner Pfennig

Antagonist/s:

Time: 1934

Summary: Chapter one goes back 10 years.

Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives in Paris. Her father is a locksmith who works
in a museum, in this chapter she learns about a diamond named the “Sea of
Flames”. The stone is supposedly cursed so the owner of it will live an eternal
life however all his/hers loved ones be ruined from misfortune. Marie-Laure
soon later loses her sight completely. Marie-Laure’s father built a model of
the neighborhood so that Marie-Laure would learn to navigate the city by
herself. Marie-Laure becomes a fan of science because it helps her rationalize
and understand what is going on. She learns by reading books in Braille.

Marie-Laure and her father are to evacuate Paris because there are rumors that
Germany is invading France. Daniel LeBlanc carries the “Sea of Flame”, he is
told that there is 3 replicas given to different people but does not know if he
is carrying the real diamond.   

Werner Pfennig and his younger sister, Jutta live in an
orphanage in Zollverein, Germany. They live near a coal mine where we learn
that their father died in. Werner is a very intelligent and curious boy. While
Werner and Jutta were out exploring together, they found a broken radio and brought
it back to the orphanage. Werner studied the machine and fixed it. Through the
radio, they listen to Nazi propaganda and science. Werner also found a book
about mechanics and it is soon confiscated from him because the author is
Jewish. He is told that he is going to work in the mines just like all the boys
in Zollverein when he turns 15. However, he gets an unexpected chance to escape
the coalmines when he fixes the radio of rich and powerful man named Rudolf
Siedler. Siedler is impressed by the boy and writes a letter of recommendation
to the school for Nazi youngsters.

Theme: Firstly, there is an important theme of relationship in this
chapter. The audience starts to understand the importance of the antagonists is
to the protagonist. Marie-Laure’s relationship with her father is very
important, they both had to suffer through a lot: The death of Marie-Laure’s
mother, Marie Laure’s eyesight deterioration etc. You can clearly sense the
seemingly strong and unbreakable bond between them, this leads to the audience
to wonder where Daniel LeBlanc is during the chapter 0. Werner Pfennig
has an important relationship with his sister. They deeply care for each other
and have always been there for each other.

Another theme that some of the audience might have noticed is that
both of the treasured objects are like a way to escape for both of the
protagonists. Marie-Laure is finally able to go outside and explore a
completely different world, while Werner’s radio is able to get in
contact with the things beyond the little city he lives in.

However, they soon learn that the world is different from the
information that is given to them. Marie-Laure not only has to learn
what is where from the model, but also learns the size difference, the smell,
sound and feel of the real world. Werner starts to question about what
is ethnically correct, the Nazi propaganda has influenced him to think that
Germany cannot do anything wrong and that Jews criminals.

The next theme this chapter has brought is a theme of selfishness.

While learning about the “Sea of Flames” Marie-Laure asked “Why not just
take the diamond and throw it into the sea”(Chapter 1, 23) to which one of the
children reply with “When is the last time you saw someone throw five Eiffel
Towers into the sea?” (23, chapter 1). These quotes show that people would
rather risk hurting others for their own selfish gain. The stone symbolizes how
people’s selfishness can unintentionally harm others. This theme is also shown
when Marie-Laure evacuates Paris. The books states that the people at the train
stations were so desperate to leave that they would create chaos, which results
in Marie-Laure and her father needing to walk. For Werner he is forced
to do things that he thinks are wrong because everyone else is doing it too. He
has to be selfish to fit in, to distance himself from danger. Avoiding the
mines means that he must be fully committed to the Nazi cause even thought he
knows it is wrong.

Lastly, there is the theme of choice. Because war is approaching,
both Werner and Marie-Laure do not have much choice in anything anymore. Marie-Laure
does not have the choice but to leave Paris. Werner has no choice
but to join the Hitler Youth and to listen to German propaganda because the
government makes sure that it is the only things the citizens can listen to.

This makes the audience feel helpless, both characters want independence but
the chaos around them does not allow it.  

This chapter is full of realization for the audience. The audience
gets to understand about both characters in another level, and also read about
each characters growth. The audience is able to connect the dots and learn that
the diamond, which Marie-Laure carried, was indeed the Sea of Flame and
understand its importance to the plot. The audience feels sympathy for the
characters since they are both likable and pure children who have already have
had to live in such terrible conditions.  

 

Chapter 2

Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner Pfennig

Antagonist/s:

Time:  8th August 1944

Summary:

Werner is in the cellar of the
Hotel of Bee where they are struck by a bomb. He is temporarily knocked out,
and temporarily deafened by the noise. The cellar had collapsed and the three
men are trapped.

Marie-Laure is in Etienne’s house,
there is broken glass everywhere but the house hasn’t been bombed yet.

Marie-Laure climbs down from the sixth floor to the cellar underneath the
kitchen.

Theme: Main theme of this chapter is disorientation and mess. Both
Marie-Laure and Werner are not only physically hurt but also mentally. Marie-Laure says that she felt detached
from her body, unable to speak, and Werner’s
senses are all in chaos, he is unable to see because of the darkness, hear from
the loud sound the bomb created, or even stand up because the ceiling had been
lowered during the bombing. Both protagonists are stuck in some way. Marie-Laure is uncertain about where
she should be, given that her blindness makes her incapable of making a safe
choice: if she stays in the cellar she might burn to death, if she leaves she
might be shot, arrested or bombed. Werner
is stuck in the basement; they have very little resources left. The audience
during this chapter feels panicky as both characters are in sticky situations.

 

Chapter 3

Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner Pfennig

Antagonist/s:

Time: June 1940

Summary:

Marie-Laure and her father travel
to Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s great uncle Etienne lives. After days of
endless walking, Etienne’s housekeeper, Madam Manec, finally greets them with
food and shelter.  Marie-Laure and her father settle into her
great-uncles house. They soon learn that the Germans are occupying France.

After 3 days in the house, she finally meets Etienne, who is very kind but
rather pensive and dreamy.

Werner goes for the 8-day
entrance. Unlike all the other boys, he performed a perfect jump, followed by
shouting “Hail Hitler”, which gets him accepted. He gets a letter soon and everyone
is overjoyed except his sister Jutta, who refuses to speak to him. Werner
prepares to leave for his school in Schulpforta. He finally talks to Jutta on
his last day. She worries that the school will make him brutal like the other
Nazi youths. She tells him that the foreign radio reports that Germans are
devils, that they are bombing other countries. Werner leaves to Schulpforta.

Life is harsh there; his classmates are cruel and mean. He shares are bunk with
Frederick. Frederick loves birds and is often picked on. He becomes Werner’s
only friend.

Reinhold von Rumpel is introduced in this
chapter. He is a Nazi sergeant major. He is introduced as an overseer of the
Nazi confiscation of precious gems. He is searching for the legendary “Sea of
Flames” diamond.

The Germans arrive in Saint-Malo. Marie-Laure is desperate to leave the house. She begs her father but
he refuses, claiming that it is too dangerous. Marie-Laure spends a lot of time
with her great-uncle, and together they imagine places he reads. One day,
Etienne shows Marie-Laure a radio transmitter stored in the attic. Etienne and
his brother Henri (Marie-Laure’s grandfather) used to record radio shows about
science until Henri died in WWI, and broadcasted them after Henri’s death. Etienne
locks himself in his room for a few days. During this period, the French
citizens are ordered to surrender their radios. All the radios are gathered
except for the one in the attic, which no one knows about, but Marie-Laure and
Etienne. Etienne learns about the radios, and initially wanted to surrender it
to the Germans, but Marie-Laure said it was too late. He becomes paranoid so he
moved a large wardrobe in front of the attic.

Dr.Hauptmann, the technical sciences teacher discovers Werner’s aptitude for technology. The
professor orders Werner to go to his laboratory every night to teach him about
trigonometry. A giant older student named Frank Volkheimer is there to
supervise him.

Claude Levitte, a perfumer in the neighborhood Marie-Laure lives in notices that
Daniel LeBlanc had been taking measurements of the streets. He reports this odd
behavior to the Germans.

During Werner’s training
in Schulpforta, a commandant asks the student who they think is the weakest out
of the group. The boy who is chosen is given a head start running, and then the
others chase him. The boy isn’t caught, but this part is clearly rising action,
as the readers can sense that something terrible is about to happen. This happened
again, but the boy who was chosen was Werner’s friend Frederick. He gets caught
and beaten. Werner helplessly watches him.

Von Rumpel goes to the Museum of
Natural History. He demands to see the Sea of Flames, but the museum claims to
not know of it. Von Rumpel then threatens them, leading him to the safe where a
replica of the diamond stored.

Marie-Laure father receives a letter
to be a summoned to return to Paris. He finishes the model of Saint-Malo and
hides the Sea of Flames inside it.  On
his way, he gets arrested, and sent to a prison camp.

 

Theme:

The readers first are given a
description of Marie-Laure’s great uncle, Etienne as a mentally ill,
insane character, and later when properly introduced to the character, they
realize that their image of him is completely inaccurate. Similarly, with Werner’s
side of the story, the author tells many rumors of Volkheimer, that he “has
carried three first years across the river by holding them above his head:
supposedly he has lifted the tail end of the commandants automobile high enough
to slip a jack under the axle.”(152, Chapter 3)etc. The reader’s later learn
that he is a gentle giant. He becomes Werner’s protection.

Again, this chapter challenges the
meaning of ethics and morality. Jutta listens to the broadcast from the other
side, the Germans are devils and are committing “atrocities”(133, Chapter 3). Werner
has his doubts, but he ignores her. In school, he watches his friend get beaten
and knows it is wrong but does not know how to respond so he just simply stood
by. Werner is symbolic here of the many Germans during WWII who were troubled
by their nations action but did not know what to do. Werner’s character shows
that this could happen to anyone.

This chapter is also full of dramatic
irony. When Etienne describes his radio show to Marie-Laure, the readers
know that it is the same radio broadcast Werner and his sister used to listen
to as children. What seems like am insignificant action to Etienne changed Werner’s
life. Readers also know that the measurement taken of the city Daniel LeBlanc
was for the model for his daughter. This scene is clearly the rising action.

The readers can sense danger (climax) approaching.