Summary: Hours before the bombs are dropped in the city of Saint-Malo; leaflets are dropped to inform the inhabitants to evacuate. The story’s main characters/protagonists, 16-year-old Marie-Laure and 18-year-old Werner Pfennig both have not yet evacuated.

Marie-Laure is a blind girl. She is alone in her great-uncle, Etienne’s house.

Werner is a soldier in the German army, staying at “the Hotel of Bees”.

Marie-Laure is fumbling with a model her father made of the city of Saint-Malo. The model carries a sacred diamond inside named the Sea of Flames. Werner on the other hand takes shelter with his fellow soldiers in the cellar.

The bombing then begins.

Theme: The audience first feels a little confused, as there is very little information provided of why everything is happening. This chapter clearly has not introduced the characters properly and the story starts during the climax, the crisis. The uncertainty the audience first feels is used on purpose to intensify the feelings of chaos and confusement the characters in the book feel. Throughout this chapter there is a sense of loneliness; as danger is coming, 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 1

Protagonist/s: Marie-Laure LeBlanc/ Werner Pfennig

Time: 1934

Antagonists: Germans

Setting: Paris, France/ Zollverein, Germany

Summary: Chapter one goes back 10 years.

Marie-Laure LeBlanc lives in Paris. Her father is a locksmith who works in a museum, in this chapter she learns about a diamond named the “Sea of Flames”. The stone is rumored to be cursed so the owner of it will live an eternal life however all his/hers loved ones be ruined from misfortune. Marie-Laure’s father built a model of the neighborhood so that Marie-Laure would learn to navigate the city by herself since she is blind. Marie-Laure becomes a fan of science because it helps her rationalize and 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 that Germany is invading France. Daniel LeBlanc carries the “Sea of Flame”, he is told that there is 3 replicas given to different people but does not know if he is carrying the real diamond.

Werner Pfennig and his younger sister, Jutta live in an orphanage in Zollverein, Germany. They live near a coal mine. Werner is curious and intelligent. While Werner and Jutta were out exploring together, they found a broken radio and brought it back to the orphanage. Werner studied the machine and fixed it. Every night they would listen to Nazi propaganda and science. Werner also found a book about mechanics, he is fascinated by it however it is confiscated from him because the author is Jewish. He is told that he is going to work in the mines just like all the boys in Zollverein when he turns 15. However, he gets an unexpected chance to escape the coalmines when he fixes the radio of rich and powerful man named Rudolf Siedler. Siedler is impressed by the boy and writes a letter of recommendation to the school for Nazi youngsters.


From the climax in chapter 1, the readers are now reading the opening, where the characters are introduced properly. This is the exposition of the story, the status quo.