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Sarah Ozcandarli
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Betty Confetti When Werner participated in the torture and execution of the Jewish man who was tied in the common area of the training camp, I knew that Werner was destined to die. At that point int he novel, Werner was a tragic figure. He participated as he was told and let his inner feelings of repulsion be overwhelmed by worry about challenging authority. He chose silence over action. We have the contrast of his childhood pal who refused to douse the victim with water. The friend was bullied, ostracized, and then turned into a vegetable. To be truly heroic given Werner's evil choice (or really sin of omission), Werner had to be redeemed in some way. The path to redemption--which was clearly coming as the novel was reaching denouement--was by becoming savior to our blind hero. Werner stood up to the Evil (representing Nazi-ism) who valued a jewel more than a human being. Werner's death is what happens in great literature when a hero fails to be pristine throughout a story.... Werner goes on to make a heroic choice and he pays the ultimate price. What is different is the sort of Das Boot ending--hey, they finally get back to shore after the most tense life and death situation, but then get killed in a plane attack on the naval base. This is what happens to Werner--he dies a senseless death at the hands of his own people. A Friendly Fire incident exemplifies the inane reality of war, this particular war, and the bankrupt ideology of this fascist regime. This is great literature, and this is what happens to tainted heroes in great literature. By dying, Werner is redeemed, and we can hope that God will grant him mercy for his stupidity in aiding the Nazi's and reward him for saving the blind girl.
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Sarah My mother is a holocaust survivor from Dresden. This book resonated so much for me. People who were touched by the war on both sides lost so much. its hard to be sympathetic to Nazi's but they lost their own humanity-something so precious.
I hated the ending but loved that it was true to the real experience. There is no happy ending in war.
John R
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Deborah A. Longbons I felt as though the ending was very representative of what living in Europe following the war. All of life was colored by the loss and death not only of individuals but of the way of life. The war had shown the true nature of people....some good and strong....somewhat and/ or evil.
Elaina Marie The richness of the writing: lavish, artistic, detailed and metaphorical is what drew me into the story. The fact that images, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch were all so well rendered made me feel like I was there. The sudden death of Werner was pretty much the way death was in the war: millions of lives - no matter how familiar or important - were just snuffed out.

I also liked how Marie-Laure in her elder years saw the analogy of the invisible qualities of electromagnetics (while sitting with her grandson who was playing a game on his phone) like the souls of the deceased that move through you and around you. It was sort of metaphysical and lovely.
Janice Kohl I was saddened at Werner's death and hoped right up to the sentence describing the explosion that he would live.. But I think his living would have distracted mightily from the previous actions of the character's brave selfless actions and would not of brought out the reason the story is written as well as it did. His dying made the story very real and like life. No Doerr was not done with him! Werner lives on because he died and the goodness in this story lives on.
Michael Weaver I've been processing the ending myself - I was also unsatisfied, because for most of the book, I thought I was being led to expect a happy ending. Not in the cheap sense, but it seemed like a refreshingly idealistic story about how love and humanity can triumph in the most dire circumstances. Werner and Marie Laure seem to be presented as a remarkably good match for each other, and the events of their respective lives seem to prepare them for each other. Yes, had they ended up as lovers they would have had plenty of issues to work through, but it would have been conceivable, had the author wanted to write that kind of story.

I do understand why we got a more true-to-life ending instead. It gives us a healthy disillusionment with warfare. In addition to taking the lives of innocents, it brings two people together only to tear them apart. A very important theme, just not the one I thought I was getting. I was also a bit thrown off by the epilogue that brings the storyline up to 2014. To me, it kind of destroyed the immediacy of the rest of the story.

Given that the author wanted this kind of ending, I would have suggested opening the book with a post-war scene with Marie Laure, giving some kind of indication that Werner is no longer around. There would still be plenty of unresolved aspects of the story to make for a compelling read, but I think it would have been a more satisfying story, even with all the tragedy.
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Tanaz Masaba "Disappointed"? More like heartbroken! I read that part like a week ago and I still can't bring myself to continue reading it.
Elaine Dreher
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Susan The short answer is he died because he threw the stone into the ocean when he retrieved the house. All of the people he cared about survived the war.

But, yes, I was very sad too.
Damian He threw the Diamond into the sea.. if he had held on to it, everyone close to him would have died through its curse. By throwing it away, he lost the protection of the diamond. Of course, he didn't specifically know this, but I like how Doerr implies Werner's love and self-sacrifice for Marie extends beyond his own self preservation. In a way, he becomes a metaphorical atonement for Germany's sins during the war.
Sharon I was more upset by the WAY he died. I mean it was foreshadowed earlier when he walked on Juno (?) beach, but to come through all he managed to survive only to die like that (at his own hands, finally phased by all the crap that was his "youth", among strangers) made me angry. I think maybe if he had died from an illness or something, I would have been more...at ease.
Micah I wasn't disappointed at all, because as the title of the book "all the light we cannot see", it's about the small things happening in real life. It reflects the fact that good people, bad people, kind people, cruel people all die in the war in some way. Is it fair for Frederick to be named as the weakest? Is it fair for Jutta to be raped during the war? I would say that's what this book want to tell us about, the true nature of war.
Emily H. There are a few realistic resolutions, but they're all hopeless

If he hadn't been killed, he would be tried and sentenced for Nazi crimes
If he fled back home, he would be executed for deserting (the fate of the 16 and 17 year old boys)
He considered suicide
Although Werner's ending was tragic, it was effective because of the irony. He died at the hands of his own people, the Reich, the people he served.
Sue I too found his death disappointing; I found the whole ending disappointing. Maybe all the metaphor and symbolism makes it good literature - I'm not arguing that point - but I had my hopes up that it would also be a good story. As a story, for me, it just petered out.
Chandré De Wet It seems like Werners death was suicidal. Am I the only one who felt like that is what the author was hinting at.

I was dissappointed in Werner's death, suicidal or not. But maybe I'm one of those readers where I feel just sometimes a book that I sat on the edge of my seat the whole way, would have a "happy ending"
Walker I was very disappointed with the ending in general, it did not seem to follow the pattern of the rest of the book. I had planned to recommend it to my two mature 13 year old grand children to read but decided not to as it was a bit confusing and not particularly satisfying. Otherwise, I loved the book and will recommend it in a couple of years for them.
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Mary Yes, I was disappointed. I got the impression - as you'll see from my review - that the author set this up only to hint at a later miracle/meeting that does not happen. I grant you, it's hard to imagine a satisfying ending for Werner, I grant you. The poor boy was so stricken by guilt. But so many characters he is in contact with find some sort or redemption. Then why not him?
Amanda When I look at how Volkheimer survives, I wonder if Werner didn't get the better end. After all, how would his life continue, after it had been so ruined? What I can't decide is this.... Did Werner know he was stepping onto the minefield? I feel that he may have done so intentionally, knowing that he could have been so much more, had the war never happened. Although it gave him his "out" from a life in the mines, it also ruined him. How would he live with all he did, helping Volkheimer to kill with radio triangulations, and the death of the innocent girl?
Lisa Mayo Eisenberg
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Sharyn I was disappointed and also have a question. I missed it I guess. What happened to the diamond?
Melodyz_07 No I think the ending is beautiful because he died. If he had lived, he would have lived a miserable life like Volkheimer haunted by his ghosts. Besides, this is a war story, I would have been disappointed if all the main characters lived and had their happy ending. It wouldn't have been realistic. Werner's death is a more fitting and realistic ending to such a story. Besides, he had a beautiful ending. He didn't die in a painful way and he died after redeeming himself.
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Sue Quinlan What happened to the diamond
Diane Kerrison I hate it that he dies. He was central to the book and it really ruined the story for me. I don't believe at all that he 'needed to pay for the sins of his people'. I would like to think we are beyond such simplistic notions of morality in times of war and horror. It's as if Doerr had to kill of every German that existed in the novel so no reviewer could accuse him of being a Nazi sympathiser. He was basically a child in the hands of very powerful forces, without many choices available to him. We see the arc of his story as he realises the evil of what he is participating in and then helps Marie. I see no need to kill of his character except to appease the readers who cannot believe there were ordinary German people who lived and suffered in the war like everyone else.
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Whit In the very beginning before chapter 1 Werner remembers a song lyric from his childhood. “Only through the hottest fires can purification be achieved.” This scene occurs right before the hotel is bombed, so not far from his death. When he died I kind of wondered if he did it on purpose or accident, and it seems clear after retreading this line that it was no accident. Maybe he wanted to purify his sins by sacrificing himself on the land mine.
Bianca Cevenini
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LaBae The unexpectedness of Werner's death made the ending much more palpable. I all but assumed Jutta and Werner would live happily ever after with the the Sea of Flames fortune. Happy the ending was not readily predictable.
Rebecca Davis Yes! I wanted to quit reading at that point. I wasn't disappointed that it happened (it was a book about war after all), I was disappointed by how abruptly it happened. I liked his character and felt like, as such a central part of the story, his character deserved more than a sentence. I know it was meant to be tragic, but it made the rest of the ending feel deeply unsatisfying to me.
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by Anthony Doerr (Goodreads Author)
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