Chapter 0Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner PfennigAntagonist/s: Time: 7th August 1944Summary: Hours before the bombs are dropped in the city ofSaint-Malo; leaflets are dropped to inform the inhabitants to evacuate.
Thestory’s protagonists, 16-year-old Marie-Laure and 18-year-old Werner Pfennigboth have not yet evacuated. Marie-Laure is a blind girl and isalone in her great-uncle, Etienne’s house. Werner is a soldier in theGerman army, staying at “the Hotel of Bees”.
Marie-Laure is fumbling with amodel her father made of the city of Saint-Malo. The model carries a sacreddiamond inside named the Sea of Flames. Werner on the other hand takes shelterwith his fellow soldiers in the cellar. The bombing then begins.
Theme: The audience first feels a little confused, as there is verylittle information provided of why everything is happening. This chapterclearly has not introduced the characters properly and the story starts duringthe climax. The uncertainty the audience first feels is used on purpose tointensify the feelings of chaos and confusement the characters in the bookfeel. Throughout this chapter there is a sense of loneliness; as danger iscoming, 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 1Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner PfennigAntagonist/s: Time: 1934Summary: Chapter one goes back 10 years. Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives in Paris. Her father is a locksmith who worksin a museum, in this chapter she learns about a diamond named the “Sea ofFlames”. The stone is supposedly cursed so the owner of it will live an eternallife however all his/hers loved ones be ruined from misfortune.
Marie-Lauresoon later loses her sight completely. Marie-Laure’s father built a model ofthe neighborhood so that Marie-Laure would learn to navigate the city byherself. Marie-Laure becomes a fan of science because it helps her rationalizeand 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 thatGermany is invading France. Daniel LeBlanc carries the “Sea of Flame”, he istold that there is 3 replicas given to different people but does not know if heis carrying the real diamond. Werner Pfennig and his younger sister, Jutta live in anorphanage in Zollverein, Germany.
They live near a coal mine where we learnthat their father died in. Werner is a very intelligent and curious boy. WhileWerner and Jutta were out exploring together, they found a broken radio and broughtit back to the orphanage. Werner studied the machine and fixed it.
Through theradio, they listen to Nazi propaganda and science. Werner also found a bookabout mechanics and it is soon confiscated from him because the author isJewish. He is told that he is going to work in the mines just like all the boysin Zollverein when he turns 15.
However, he gets an unexpected chance to escapethe coalmines when he fixes the radio of rich and powerful man named RudolfSiedler. Siedler is impressed by the boy and writes a letter of recommendationto the school for Nazi youngsters. Theme: Firstly, there is an important theme of relationship in thischapter. The audience starts to understand the importance of the antagonists isto the protagonist. Marie-Laure’s relationship with her father is veryimportant, they both had to suffer through a lot: The death of Marie-Laure’smother, Marie Laure’s eyesight deterioration etc. You can clearly sense theseemingly strong and unbreakable bond between them, this leads to the audienceto wonder where Daniel LeBlanc is during the chapter 0. Werner Pfennighas an important relationship with his sister. They deeply care for each otherand have always been there for each other.
Another theme that some of the audience might have noticed is thatboth of the treasured objects are like a way to escape for both of theprotagonists. Marie-Laure is finally able to go outside and explore acompletely different world, while Werner’s radio is able to get incontact with the things beyond the little city he lives in. However, they soon learn that the world is different from theinformation that is given to them.
Marie-Laure not only has to learnwhat 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 whatis ethnically correct, the Nazi propaganda has influenced him to think thatGermany 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 justtake the diamond and throw it into the sea”(Chapter 1, 23) to which one of thechildren reply with “When is the last time you saw someone throw five EiffelTowers into the sea?” (23, chapter 1). These quotes show that people wouldrather risk hurting others for their own selfish gain. The stone symbolizes howpeople’s selfishness can unintentionally harm others. This theme is also shownwhen Marie-Laure evacuates Paris. The books states that the people at the trainstations were so desperate to leave that they would create chaos, which resultsin Marie-Laure and her father needing to walk.
For Werner he is forcedto do things that he thinks are wrong because everyone else is doing it too. Hehas to be selfish to fit in, to distance himself from danger. Avoiding themines means that he must be fully committed to the Nazi cause even thought heknows 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-Lauredoes not have the choice but to leave Paris. Werner has no choicebut to join the Hitler Youth and to listen to German propaganda because thegovernment makes sure that it is the only things the citizens can listen to.This makes the audience feel helpless, both characters want independence butthe chaos around them does not allow it.
This chapter is full of realization for the audience. The audiencegets to understand about both characters in another level, and also read abouteach characters growth. The audience is able to connect the dots and learn thatthe diamond, which Marie-Laure carried, was indeed the Sea of Flame andunderstand its importance to the plot. The audience feels sympathy for thecharacters since they are both likable and pure children who have already havehad to live in such terrible conditions. Chapter 2Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner PfennigAntagonist/s: Time: 8th August 1944Summary:Werner is in the cellar of theHotel 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 threemen 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 thekitchen. Theme: Main theme of this chapter is disorientation and mess. BothMarie-Laure and Werner are not only physically hurt but also mentally. Marie-Laure says that she felt detachedfrom her body, unable to speak, and Werner’ssenses are all in chaos, he is unable to see because of the darkness, hear fromthe loud sound the bomb created, or even stand up because the ceiling had beenlowered during the bombing.
Both protagonists are stuck in some way. Marie-Laure is uncertain about whereshe should be, given that her blindness makes her incapable of making a safechoice: if she stays in the cellar she might burn to death, if she leaves shemight be shot, arrested or bombed. Werneris stuck in the basement; they have very little resources left. The audienceduring this chapter feels panicky as both characters are in sticky situations. Chapter 3Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner PfennigAntagonist/s: Time: June 1940Summary: Marie-Laure and her father travelto Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s great uncle Etienne lives.
After days ofendless walking, Etienne’s housekeeper, Madam Manec, finally greets them withfood and shelter. Marie-Laure and her father settle into hergreat-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 butrather pensive and dreamy. Werner goes for the 8-dayentrance. Unlike all the other boys, he performed a perfect jump, followed byshouting “Hail Hitler”, which gets him accepted.
He gets a letter soon and everyoneis overjoyed except his sister Jutta, who refuses to speak to him. Wernerprepares to leave for his school in Schulpforta. He finally talks to Jutta onhis last day. She worries that the school will make him brutal like the otherNazi youths. She tells him that the foreign radio reports that Germans aredevils, that they are bombing other countries.
Werner leaves to Schulpforta.Life is harsh there; his classmates are cruel and mean. He shares are bunk withFrederick. Frederick loves birds and is often picked on. He becomes Werner’sonly friend. Reinhold von Rumpel is introduced in thischapter.
He is a Nazi sergeant major. He is introduced as an overseer of theNazi confiscation of precious gems. He is searching for the legendary “Sea ofFlames” diamond. The Germans arrive in Saint-Malo. Marie-Laure is desperate to leave the house. She begs her father buthe refuses, claiming that it is too dangerous. Marie-Laure spends a lot of timewith her great-uncle, and together they imagine places he reads.
One day,Etienne shows Marie-Laure a radio transmitter stored in the attic. Etienne andhis brother Henri (Marie-Laure’s grandfather) used to record radio shows aboutscience until Henri died in WWI, and broadcasted them after Henri’s death. Etiennelocks himself in his room for a few days. During this period, the Frenchcitizens are ordered to surrender their radios. All the radios are gatheredexcept for the one in the attic, which no one knows about, but Marie-Laure andEtienne.
Etienne learns about the radios, and initially wanted to surrender itto the Germans, but Marie-Laure said it was too late. He becomes paranoid so hemoved a large wardrobe in front of the attic.Dr.Hauptmann, the technical sciences teacher discovers Werner’s aptitude for technology.
Theprofessor orders Werner to go to his laboratory every night to teach him abouttrigonometry. A giant older student named Frank Volkheimer is there tosupervise him. Claude Levitte, a perfumer in the neighborhood Marie-Laure lives in notices thatDaniel LeBlanc had been taking measurements of the streets. He reports this oddbehavior to the Germans. During Werner’s trainingin Schulpforta, a commandant asks the student who they think is the weakest outof the group.
The boy who is chosen is given a head start running, and then theothers 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 happenedagain, but the boy who was chosen was Werner’s friend Frederick. He gets caughtand beaten. Werner helplessly watches him. Von Rumpel goes to the Museum ofNatural History.
He demands to see the Sea of Flames, but the museum claims tonot know of it. Von Rumpel then threatens them, leading him to the safe where areplica of the diamond stored. Marie-Laure father receives a letterto be a summoned to return to Paris.
He finishes the model of Saint-Malo andhides the Sea of Flames inside it. Onhis way, he gets arrested, and sent to a prison camp. Theme: The readers first are given adescription of Marie-Laure’s great uncle, Etienne as a mentally ill,insane character, and later when properly introduced to the character, theyrealize that their image of him is completely inaccurate. Similarly, with Werner’sside of the story, the author tells many rumors of Volkheimer, that he “hascarried three first years across the river by holding them above his head:supposedly he has lifted the tail end of the commandants automobile high enoughto slip a jack under the axle.
“(152, Chapter 3)etc. The reader’s later learnthat he is a gentle giant. He becomes Werner’s protection. Again, this chapter challenges themeaning of ethics and morality. Jutta listens to the broadcast from the otherside, the Germans are devils and are committing “atrocities”(133, Chapter 3). Wernerhas his doubts, but he ignores her.
In school, he watches his friend get beatenand knows it is wrong but does not know how to respond so he just simply stoodby. Werner is symbolic here of the many Germans during WWII who were troubledby their nations action but did not know what to do. Werner’s character showsthat this could happen to anyone.
This chapter is also full of dramaticirony. When Etienne describes his radio show to Marie-Laure, the readersknow that it is the same radio broadcast Werner and his sister used to listento as children. What seems like am insignificant action to Etienne changed Werner’slife. Readers also know that the measurement taken of the city Daniel LeBlancwas for the model for his daughter.
This scene is clearly the rising action.The readers can sense danger (climax) approaching.