All The Light We Cannot See is the perfect story for those who love emotional tales and history. The series landed on Netflix in November 2023 and is based on the bestseller book published by Anthony Doerr in 2014: a beautiful story set in World War II during the liberation of France from the Nazi occupation, a novel that disclosed the true story of the Battle of Saint-Malo. The book has a deeper meaning, though, and what we see at the ending of the series marks an essential difference from the original story. Will Marie and Werner meet again? Let’s discover it.
All The Light We Cannot See: Werner, Marie & the book ending
All The Light We Cannot See tells the story of two young individuals crossing their paths in a French city occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II: Werner and Marie belong to two opposite sides, one is a Nazi soldier, and the other is a blind girl helping the resistance. However, they both share a good heart that makes them see how war is awful, and that creates a connection between them the moment they meet.
Werner is an intelligent German orphan who gets abducted by the Nazi military when he was a boy, forced to join the army and help with his talent for radios. He’s forced to fight in World War II, using his unique skills, but the conflict never changes what he believes in: he considers war an absurdity created by “old men,” something that only brings blind destruction. His sensitive heart will create a virtual connection with a girl he hears on the radio, on the same frequency where a French professor was broadcasting his messages of science and reason in the years preceding the Nazi invasion.
The girl on the radio is Marie, a bling young woman who lost her father in the resistance. The professor is her Great-Uncle Etienne, Marie lives with him and, progressively, will help Etienne escape his isolation. Their joined action will help the French Resistance, and Marie’s broadcasting will send vital hidden messages that the American army will use for their attack.
In the Netflix series All The Light We Cannot See, we see Werner saving Marie from von Rumpel’s evil plans. The American army enters the city, while Werner and Marie promise each other to meet again after the war is over. Werner surrenders to the Americans, and Marie throws the Sea of Flames into the ocean, breaking its curse. However, the ending of All The Light We Cannot See marks an essential difference between the series and the book: what happens in the novel, will Werner and Marie really meet again?
The book ending is more tragic than the Netflix series: in the novel All The Light We Cannot See, Werner becomes ill after surrendering to the Americans, and one night, he walks out of his tent in a confusional state, and a German landmine will explode, killing him. Werner’s death in the book is highly symbolic: as a soldier who never approved the war he was fighting, Werner represents the way war indiscriminately destroys everything. There is no lesson to learn, no good people being rewarded or evil individuals being punished: a war kills hopes and human beings with no distinctions.
This means that Werner and Marie will never meet again in the book All The Light We Cannot See: the novel’s ending will continue until, thirty years later, Werner’s sister Jutta goes to France and meets Marie. They’ve been both missing Werner for years, as one of the many victims of a meaningless war.