There are, he assures her, no such things as curses. There is luck, maybe, bad or good. A slight inclination of each day toward success or failure. But no curses.
This quotation occurs in Part 1, after Marie-Laure goes blind and her father tries to motivate and inspire her. Understandably, Marie-Laure is frustrated and frightened by the prospect of living the rest of her life as a person with a disability. She does not understand why she must suffer in this way when she has never done anything wrong, and she starts to blame fate for what has happened to her. This quotation shows the way in which her father challenges this viewpoint and how he encourages her to view life in a new way. Daniel Leblanc does not deny that some circumstances are easier or more challenging than others, but he believes individuals always have agency to decide how to handle the challenges they encounter. This perspective is particularly powerful because Daniel could also easily blame fate for many sad circumstances in his own life. Still, he never wallows, and he encourages his daughter to be resilient, like him.
The philosophy that Daniel shares with his daughter in this quotation is both undermined and upheld throughout the rest of the novel. Individuals are affected by events over which they have no control, whether those events are huge historical events like a war or simple coincidences like Werner listening to radio programs which turn out to have been broadcast by Marie-Laure’s great-uncle. Despite their best efforts, whether individuals survive or die seems to be unrelated to whether they were good people who tried to help themselves and others. Many unjust things happen to good characters, which makes it appear that some events may simply be fated. However, the novel also suggests that individuals have moral agency and can choose to use what power they have to make the world a better or worse place. Marie-Laure herself always tries to live by the philosophy her father teaches her and tries to make the most of every opportunity she can. Her choice to become involved in the resistance, for example, inspires Etienne to action and gives her a sense of purpose.