The majority of the action in All the Light We Cannot See takes place during World War II, from the early 1930s to 1945. The reader sees the war from the perspectives of two young people: the French girl Marie and the German boy Werner.
The war has an overwhelming influence on every character. Though not sympathetic to the Nazi ideology, Werner is forced to employ his talents for their cause, not rebelling until he saves Marie during the climax. Marie's father is forced to go into hiding and then eventually leave his daughter due to being in bad graces with the Nazi authorities. Marie's uncle Etienne is traumatized permanently from World War I, unable to leave his home due to shell shock (PTSD).
While the sections dealing with the post-war period are comparatively brief, they are important. Just because the gunfire ended does not mean that the effects of the war did not linger. In the post-war chaos, Jutta is raped by Russian soldiers and left without her brother. Marie is left without her...
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