Symbolism In 'The Sea Of Flames'

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In addition to mirroring life, the Sea of Flames sets the stage for Doerr’s most pervasive yet inconspicuous analogy. When asked what he wants readers to take away from his novel, Doerr replies “that war is more complicated than they [the readers] might have thought, that there were civilians on both sides making really complicated moral decisions, [...] [that] little miracles” sprouted in the least expected of places (Schulman 27). The Sea of Flames is a central messenger for this theme at individual points of the novel but also in its overarching structure. The reader is first introduced to the Sea of Flames when it is housed at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, marked only by “an iron door with a single keyhole,” a series ending with a “thirteenth [...] no bigger than a shoe.” (Doerr 19-20). All the Light We Cannot See is partitioned into fourteen fragments- but it is labeled zero through thirteen. Just as passing through each door brings one closer to the gem, Doerr seeks to guide his reader through the locked gates of compassion and conflict to arrive at his own gem, which is revealed after passing through the thirteenth gate, into the last chapter of the novel, as Marie-Laure contemplates all the invisible electromagnetic waves, “ten thousand I miss yous, fifty thousand I love yous” passing “over the scarred and ever-shifting landscapes.” Transient messages connecting ephemeral people who eventually fall away, like the Sea of Flames, and “rise again

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