To put it bluntly, I’m anxious of heights. Everyone has a phobia about something. It can be trivial, it may sound foolish, but it’s a phobia nonetheless. Ever heard of Anatidaephobia? It’s the irrational fear that one is being watched by a duck. It may be ludicrous, but think about it. If you DO have Anatidaephobia, it’s no longer in the boundary of laughable anymore. But how to get over a fear? It takes many years and willpower, but the result is always promising in the end.
Marie-Laurie Le Blanc had extremely deteriorating eye-sight and by the time she reached her sixth or seventh year, she was completely blind. It was because of cataracts, something the doctors said could never be cured even today, one century later after Marie’s time. Being blind is apparently not simple. For a year, Marie couldn’t go outside her house in France, with the fear of getting lost because of her blindness. It took many months of her father to coax her outside, and to try and build up her bravery to be able to come back home safely.
“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
To do that, he built her a miniature model of the city they live in and told her to go over it again and again every day. It was incredibly detailed, with every model of house put together with as much accuracy as possible. Marie took years, learning it and building up her fear of going outside. But finally, a few years of being shut in forever darkness, Marie was finally able to go around blindly. She got used to blindness. She got used to reading Braille and the fear that she would never see again.
Meanwhile, in German, there was a boy named Werner Pfennig who was eight years old at the time he was introduced into the story. He lived with his sister Jutta in the orphanage, never knowing his real father or mother. Werner and Jutta shared white-hair genes, meaning that they had lots of white hair. Werner was extremely talented, and even at the age of eight was able to fix a broken radio that he found. He used it to listen to simplified science broadcasts from a French guy out there.
Marie and Werner both lived in the era of the Second World War. Marie was forced to make a run from Paris with her father when it was bombed, and Werner became recruited into the Hitler’s youth camp because of his natural skills. The two grew up in completely different environments, with Marie living with great-uncle and her father in Saint Marlo, while Werner was complete trained with military. He spent his life working in a lab, and struggling to understand what being weak really was.
“Some people are weak in some ways, sir. Others in other ways.”
To me, weakness happens where you’re in doubt and can’t stand up for yourself. That is called mental weakness, anyways. Physical weakness is pretty common ailment. It happens to people who doesn’t exercise much or are born with a physical deflect. Everything related to pain is a physical weakness. But when you’re mentally weak, you easily give things up. Everything you own will become someone else’s things. Remember the theory the Survival of the Fittest? That were the things Werner learnt in camp.
Werner then graduated, earning as a job of a tracker of illegal radio transmissions. Understandingly, it was a war. Many things were forbidden to avoid spies from the other side. But somehow, this brings me towards the topic of censorship. Indonesia is currently going through many forms of censorship today. Conservative reasoning is applied because of many religious things currently going on.
This story was based on two characters who were changing from the beginning to end. Both Marie and Werner were struggling through really hard times. Marie constantly believed that her father (who shortly disappeared after they reached Saint Marlo) would come back, and she always hoped that the war would end. She also believed that one day she would return to Paris, France. Werner always hoped that he would return to the orphanage one day and met his sister Jutta after many years of being separated, and he hoped he could understand the meaning of life.
“How do you ever know for certain that you are doing the right thing?”
Anthony Doerr is an American author of novels and short stories. He gained widespread recognition for his 2014 novel All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
“We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.”