Etienne’s reflections while he is imprisoned inside Fort National speak to the horror of war. He remembers how in WWI he knew artillerymen who could tell by the color of a shell’s impact whether they had hit stone, soil, or human flesh. War reduces humanity to a color of an explosion. As Etienne looks at all the fires burning in Saint-Malo, he thinks, “The universe is full of fuel.” In other words, if the attitude that prevails on enemy soil in a time of war were to prevail everywhere, everything in the world would be seen simply as more things to destroy, as fuel for a fire.
When Marie-Laure turns on her music and prepares herself for possible death, she takes comfort in the beautiful complexity of the world and the notion of worlds within worlds. “What mazes there are in this world,” she thinks to herself. She envisions the mind as a cosmos of its own, a space with its own complexity and its own beauty.
Finally, Volkheimer’s reaction to the music that Marie-Laure plays speaks both to the power of an intangible realm in general, and to the power of music in particular, to inspire hope.