He would walk anywhere to make it happen, bear anything; in a year, or three years or ten, France and Germany would not mean what they meant now; they could leave the house and walk to a tourists’ restaurant and order a simple meal together and eat it in silence, the comfortable kind of silence lovers are supposed to share.

This quotation occurs in Part 10, as Werner fantasizes about a possible future in which he and Marie-Laure could build a life together. The two of them have only a few hours together before they must go their separate ways, but Werner has already fallen in love with her. He would be willing to do anything if only he could have the opportunity to spend more time with her. Werner does not long for anything grand or fancy. He wishes only for the simple pleasures of life which have become impossible due to the violence and trauma of war. Werner’s daydream shows that while he has spent years serving as a Nazi soldier, he is still at heart very much an innocent and romantic young boy. He can easily fall in love and imagine the future he would like to have. War has not corrupted Werner’s heart, but it has made it impossible for him to experience simple pleasures that can easily be taken for granted.

The quotation also shows how outside conflict creates barriers between people. Werner and Marie-Laure have much in common and could easily become good friends, or even lovers. However, because he is German and she is French, they are expected to be enemies. Werner takes a risk by going to her house, and he has to separate from her for the sake of her own safety. There is nothing fundamentally different about them, and neither of them has strong political loyalties to any particular nation or system. Still, these abstract political conflicts stop any chance the two young people might have had of getting to know each other better. All Werner is left with are a few idle fantasies of what he wishes his life could have been like. In this way, the novel makes clear that the destruction war wreaks is not only on people’s bodies and minds, but also on their futures.