"He rehearses in his head the argument he will present to his sister. Pflicht. It means duty. Obligation. Every German fulfilling his function. Put on your boots and go to work. Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer. We all have parts to play, little sister."

This quotation comes from the chapter entitled “You Have Been Called” in Part Three, and it offers a glimpse as to why Werner joins the war effort in the first place. Driven to apply for admission to the state school by a genuine love of learning, he turns a blind eye to the brutality of the entrance exams and instead convinces himself that he has a moral obligation to study for the benefit of his country. This attitude reflects Werner’s misguided optimism and emphasizes the respect he has for figures of authority. Unlike his bold and defiant sister Jutta, Werner finds himself following the lead of others.

"Werner is succeeding. He is being loyal. He is being what everybody agrees is good. And yet every time he wakes and buttons his tunic, he feels he is betraying something." 

In the chapter “You Have Other Friends” from Part Five, Werner admits to feeling torn between public definitions of goodness and his own personal moral code. He may not have a clear understanding of what this distinction truly means, but witnessing other students mercilessly bully Frederick and slowly discovering the dark purpose of his work with Hauptmann pushes him to question what it means to be a good person. This quotation also emphasizes Werner’s position as a malleable character in a highly regimented world.

“Frederick said we don’t have choices, don’t own our lives, but in the end it was Werner who pretended there were no choices, Werner who watched Frederick dump the pail of water at his feet—I will not—Werner who stood by as the consequences came raining down.”

This quotation, which occurs in the “Claire de Lune” chapter from Part Nine, reflects the moment of Werner’s moral reckoning as he decides to go against orders to protect Marie-Laure from harm. After witnessing countless tragedies resulting from his own work, his sense of humanity finally overpowers his desire for belonging and success. The fact that he thinks back to Frederick in this moment suggests that he realizes the power inherent in existing as an individual on the outskirts of a group, a position which gives him the courage to act on his own terms.