"To really touch something, she is learning - the bark of a sycamore tree in the gardens; a painted stag beetle in the Department of Entomology; the exquisitely polished interior of a scallop shell in Dr. Geffard's workshop - is to love it."

In the chapter entitled “Key Pound” from Part One, the reader learns the story of Marie-Laure’s blindness and her father’s attempts to teach her about the world in a new way. Touch becomes one of the main ways in which she takes in new information, and this detail suggests the value of experience when it comes to learning. Marie-Laure feels a deep connection to the world that lies at her fingertips which empowers her to confidently move forward despite her lack of sight.

"Open your eyes, concludes the man, and see what you can do with them before they close forever, and then a piano comes on, playing a lonely song that sounds to Werner like a golden boat traveling a dark river, a progression of harmonies that transfigures Zollverein…" 

This quotation, which comes from the chapter “The Professor” in Part One, highlights the transformative power that education can have, especially for disadvantaged children like Werner and Jutta. When they listen to the French professor over the radio, they are able to indulge their natural curiosities and imagine a world of possibilities. The professor’s instructions to “open your eyes…and see what you can do with them” further encourages the association between education and opportunity, inspiring Werner to seek out a life of learning.

"Radio: it ties a million ears to a single mouth. Out of loudspeakers all around Zollverein, the staccato voice of the Reich grows like some imperturbable tree; its subjects lean toward its branches as if toward the lips of God." 

Although much of the novel depicts the virtues of knowledge, this quotation, which comes from the chapter “Bigger Faster Brighter” in Part One, highlights the dangers of educating through propaganda. The Nazi regime uses radio broadcasts to communicate information to German citizens, but the knowledge they gain has no basis in reality. Ironically, Werner, who has a natural desire to learn, enables the Nazi’s misinformation campaign by repairing radios, a detail which reflects the multifaceted power of knowledge.

"A line comes back to Marie Laure from Jules Verne: Science my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which is it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth."

As Marie-Laure and Etienne make their first radio broadcast from the attic in “One Ordinary Loaf” from Part Seven, she recalls this line from A Journey to the Center of the Earth which emphasizes the value inherent in the process of learning. The idea that making mistakes is necessary in order to uncover the truth suggests that knowledge is a lifelong pursuit shaped by each discovery along the way. Recalling this line at such a pivotal moment in the novel allows Doerr to highlight the importance of Marie-Laure and Etienne’s choice to broadcast, especially since they do not know what consequences lie ahead.

“He entertains pipeline dreams: the Frenchman will invite him in. They’ll drink coffee, discuss his long-ago broadcasts. Maybe they’ll investigate some important empirical problem that has been troubling him for years. Maybe he’ll show Werner the transmitter.”

After identifying the professor’s broadcast as the illegal radio signal in Saint-Malo, Werner wonders in “Boulangerie” from Part Nine if he will have the opportunity to meet the man behind the engaging science lectures of his childhood. He quickly admits to himself that such a meeting is unlikely, but the eagerness with which he imagines the moment reflects the enduring power of a love of learning. Despite the horrors Werner has witnessed throughout the war, the opportunity to learn brings him back to the purest version of himself.