Striving New Light in Big Idea


I don’t really remember whether someone asking me a question or I do it by myself, but it is intriguing to discuss about moral of the story. When an author writes a storyline, do they put moral of the story as priority? Positively, what kind of impact to the storyline itself? If not, do they just define the theme and then continued by determining some characters? When I wrote my own story, I let my mind doing their job: selecting the idea, choosing some characters, sometimes preparing mind map sometimes not. Moral probably is something that I prefer my characters to find by theirselves. However, reading some books especially those that bring up big idea, having numerous storylines and conflicts and at the end of the story ended smoothly by closing statements/chapter that trying to provide kind of conclusion, increase my curiosity on how the author starting the story by.

World war absolutely is a very big idea. Accordingly, everybody has their own version as well as every writer has their own weapon to shoot which part is potential to develop into a story. Anthony Doerr, a short story winner prize, showed his capability in writing a novel about Nazis invasion in Saint Malo, an important district in France. He spent some times in Saint Malo to observe the roads and buildings, comparing the present situation to era 40’s when the invasion happened. A big work that paid by Pulitzer Prize in 2015.

Using third point of view, Doerr brings the readers to a living of blind girl, Marie-Laure, who is spending her childhood with her father in Paris. In 1944, during Nazis invasion, Marie-Laure and her father escaped to St. Malo and stayed at her grand uncle house. The house where all the hidden activity arranged to transmit codes to outside area seeking possibility of help. Meanwhile, an albino boy namely Werner Pfennig, living in the mining area of Germany is chosen to be transferred to the camp of Youth Hitler when he fix a broken radio of Nazis army. As a poor young boy, Werner continue his life in the camp by holding memories of his sister Jutta who left behind in children house of Zollverein with Frau Elena. A lot of things happened to Marie and Werner before finally they meet in a chaos situation of St. Malo. Story of diamond in France National Museum; implementation of radio transmission in the war for the first time; how miniature of the city made by Marie father successfully help this girl to understand the situation are only parts of the important storyline that move the story up to the end.

The most interesting part for me during exploring various ‘big ideas’ inside the book is everything related to the diamond that secured in high level protection in the National Museum of France.  It’s found first time in Borneo, it is a magic stone, and Nazis want it badly. I tried googling to get some more information about this diamond but found nothing except reviews of this book. So it’s presumed that this part probably is a key that differ this book from other historical fiction novel. Doerr successfully polished the “diamond” to look so shiny for readers. It’s a brilliant idea.

A big and magnificent World War II has been split into several ideas or the other way that is those smaller ideas come first then combined into one story. Which one is coming first is difficult to identify. Each character brings ‘big story’. When those big stories having same level of important combined into one book, it is like seeing bricks intend to be used to build a castle that painted by interesting different color in which we must put every brick carefully so every color could be support each other properly. Small mistake would cause dull combination. In this case, the good news is, the author could manage it properly. At least, at the end of the story, every information related in their own portion. If there is information’s bias, it is not the thing that reader put their attention to.

When an author decides to choose big historical idea that has been written by so many author before, even there are still a lot of angles to be brought up, this kind of author is like having responsibility to find something new and fresh which is not easy. Reader will always ready to prey the story. They are criticizing the facts, historical backgrounds, variety of the conflicts, character chosen and so on. Accordingly, searching of the brand new idea become more frustrating. However, that difficulties should not always push an author to the situation of collecting numerous important cases and information that finally burdened the story. Giving one example, Angela’s Ashes (winner of Pulitzer Prize for the year of 1997) showing different sight of how to construct a story using time frame based on important historical record. As memoir, Angela’s Ashes potential to tell a lot of author experience during Catholic and Protestant conflict era in Ireland. Instead, he focused only to one storyline which can be developed deeply and widely. Focusing only to the relationship between mother and her children during that time in fact has been emotionally provoked readers mind to the grief and craziness happened.

Title                 : All the Light We Cannot See

Author             : Anthony Doerr

Published         : 2014

Pages               : 520

Publisher          : Fourth Estate An Imprint of Harper CollinsPublishers