Summary and Analysis
PART THIRTEEN: 2014
Marie-Laure is now an old woman. At a park with her grandson, Michel, she watches as he plays a computer game in which he “dies,” but he tells her that that’s alright because he can always “begin again.” Michel, who will soon turn 12, asks Marie-Laure what she wanted for her twelfth birthday, and she tells him about getting the novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. She thinks about all the intangible electromagnetic waves in the air around her and wonders if the souls of her loved ones are in those waves, if she might be able to hear them by listening closely. Her grandson walks her home and bids her farewell. She stands outside listening to the sounds of the world.
This final part offers hope for fresh beginnings. When Michel, playing a video game, tells his grandmother that he is “dead,” she asks, “In the game?” This question calls attention to the fact that, for Marie-Laure, death is not primarily a fiction in a video game; it is a painful, lived experience. Michel’s response that he can always begin a new game is significant: This hope for beginning again, although it means something much different in the video game context than it does to Marie-Laure, nonetheless mirrors the new life she sees around her in 2014, new life that is embodied in her grandson.
Michel’s video game also functions as a final reminder of worlds within worlds and the power of an invisible world that we cannot physically see. As Marie-Laure watches her grandson play, she imagines the invisible electromagnetic waves entering and leaving Michel’s device, the network of digital communication flying through the air all around her. She wonders if her father’s, Etienne’s, Madame Manec’s, and Werner’s souls might also “travel those paths.” This other world, this invisible world, becomes a final source of hope for Marie-Laure.