The Book Thief

Introduction:

The book thief is a book written by Markus Zusak based during the German Holocaust. Its a real eye opener, giving us a view into the terrors of WW2, even if it is a work of fiction and I think the story of Liesel is especially important, because her story runs through every base, including Jewish people, German mass adoration and the life of those who have experienced the loss of friends and loved ones due to the rising hell that was WW2. An especially important symbol in The Book Thief is the different books that Liesel comes into contact with, and what they mean in the story.

The books Liesel steals are symbolise her own defiance. They symbolise a act against Hitler’s Nazi regime, while also symbolising the steps Liesel takes to becoming a independent German. The Gravedigger’s handbook is the first book Liesel gets, and it can be seen to represent a connection to her brother, since she gets it from where he is buried. However I believe it has even more significance, because it can symbolise her beginning literally from the ground up. It is almost as if she is digging herself out of the grave, with this first book, that she can’t even read yet. I believe this book is extremely significant and that without reaching for this first book, Liesel would have remained the small helpless girl she is in the beginning of the story, forever. Another significant book is Mein Kampf, its a book, written by Hitler, in order to explain his ideologies and the paths in which he wishes to take Germany. This is the next significant book, because it represents the different views of the people. With both the copy written by Hitler and Max’s copy. The original Mein Kampf represents Germany as it is, ruled by hitler. However Max’s copy, renamed “The Standover Man,”  represents a blank slate. The whited out pages represent the desire to change, and the hope that it will. It is important that in the beginning Max carries this hope, as he is able to escape thanks to his mother, and carries her hope for change as well, and then he hands this hope down to Liesel. Liesel carries hope forward after this point, all the way to the end of the novel.

There are some books that, once picked up, cannot be put back down and I believe Markus Zusak has written one of these books. I may not know exactly what goes through his head, however I like to think that all authors strive to make every encounter within their stories meaningful. I believe this is an important way to engage your audience and to make sure not a single word becomes meaningless. The symbol of the books is something that lured me as a reader, so that I sought to discover a deeper meaning behind them, and see exactly where this story was taking me. I believe the attention to detail put within this book is amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Liesel Memingar

  1. The difference between Liesel and your common thief, is her innocence. When I think of a “book thief,” I think of someone in a time where knowledge is valuable, and he is stealing these books to sell. However she is just a child, in a hard time, seeking some kind of knowledge, any kind of knowledge.
  2. The harsh reality Liesel has been exposed to at such a young age would cripple most people, or send them into denial and in the beginning, it nearly does. She is introverted, scared, and unwilling to open herself up upon meeting her new foster parents. The death of her brother and loss of her mother has made her quiet and sullen. I believe her goals from here would be to simply survive, and to avoid connection at this point, however as time progresses she will learn to lean on people again.
  3. I think her desire to learn is driven by the death of her brother. I think this because she receives her first book, the gravediggers handbook, at her brothers funeral, and it is like a connection between her and him, even though she cannot understand it. However I believe as she develops more relationships, she desires more knowledge since her bonds are formed upon the desire to learn.
  4. Cause he is a pig boy.
  5. I think her and max’s loss are completely different entity’s. Whereas Liesels loss is beyond her control, Max feels personally responsible for the loss of his mother, because only one of them could be saved, and he was forced to leave her behind.
  6. I believe it could be one of two things, with everyone connected to her gone, she tries to keep these connections through books, so that she does not feel truly alone, or she does it as a way of defiance against those who would keep the non Nazi people of Germany down.
  7. Yes, I do believe Liesel has lived a fulfilled life. I believe this because, even through all the barriers, she pushed through, after loss, after pain, she made it to the end, and learned from it.

Rudy Steiner

Rudy Steiner, the runner, the pig boy, the boy who paints himself black. Rudy is the ideal person, based on Hitler’s ideals, blonde, athletic, smart, he is the poster boy of ideal arian race. The only problem was, his mind was not ideal, he idolized Jessie Owens, a black runner who won 4 gold medals in the Olympics, going so far as to paint himself black with charcoal to re-enact the Molching race.

We see Rudy, stick up to Hitler’s Ideals time and time again, because in his eyes, appearance does not make someone who they are, rather, ability does.

However, unfortunately Rudy’s desire for success and recognition become a danger to him and his family. We see this when he wins many races in his hitler youth athletics. He is noticed by the Nazis and is selected for a special elite youths school. His parents then decide that his father would go to war, in an exchange to spare Rudy from this. This event will give Rudy a view of how the Nazi party works, taking one thing for another constantly, never accepting of both.

Rudy becomes significant because of his both ideal and opposite characters for the Nazi party. He represents so perfectly the ideal people that Nazi Germany wants, however he is in complete opposition, as proven when he hands out bread to Jewish prisoners. He is important because he shows us what Hitler wants, but also shows us, that Hitler can’t have him.

Sandstorm – Poem

 

A flurry of aggressive orange and brown,

stinging eyes and coughing lungs.

I force myself deeper, trying not to drown,

as I make my way through the sand.

 

A ripped tea towel across my face,

My air tank in this sea of dust.

But the winds still hit me like a mace,

yet I do not falter.

 

I’m nearly there now, only a few more steps,

The gale still fights to stop me.

I open the door and take a fresh breath,

I’v made it to the store.

Doomed Youth

The poem talks about what sort of events and that can be seen in the World War, for example the wailing shells, and the Bugles calling for them. And it also speaks about the lost wishes and prayers and thoughts of the soldiers.

However the poem does not mention sides, most likely because dead men, have no country. Nor does it give us any imagery of death.

 

Throughout the poem there are contrasting ideas, for example, demented choirs. Choir is a great prayer, or song sent to the lord, in heaven. However for them to be demented, shrill and demented, is to make it evil, corrupting it, and confusing it.

 

Demented

.Corrupted

.Evil

.Dark

.Sick

.Irrational

 

Used with Choirs of wailing shells. Demented can be corrupted, evil, or irrational. This gave me an image of what I’d like to think of raining hell, or hellfire. It is a wailing hellish noise, and it is coming toward them.

 

Anger of the guns

 

This specific quote made me think less of the gun, but rather the man behind it. This is because guns are but a tool, and the person is the killer. The anger of the gun, the anger of the man. Grief of loss, or loss of control to bloodlust and adrenalin, killing mindlessly, out of survival. Therefore I think the use of Personification on the gun, perfectly describes the events.

 

Demented Choirs

 

Throughout the poem there are contrasting ideas, for example, demented choirs. Choir is a great prayer, or song sent to the lord, in heaven. However for them to be demented, shrill and demented, is to make it evil, corrupting it, and confusing it. It tells us that in this time of war, god cannot hear us over the death, and destruction in the battlefield.

 

What is included?

Language included.

The poem Dulce et Decorum est is a shocking poem that is written from the view of a soldier in WW1, dealing with dangerous but everyday scenarios. I believe that what is written in the poem was common throughout many soldiers lives, and from my understanding, may have been weekly, if not daily. I get this impression through the single word “Ecstasy,” or the sentence “An ecstasy of fumbling…” This is because the word ecstasy, is often associated with something experienced often, or familiar. For example, the familiar ecstasy of chocolate, melting in the mouth. I know its a long stretched example, however the same principals apply. Because they have experienced this so often, it triggers a reaction from them, that is all too familiar.

Another example of language having this sort of detail within the story is the word dreams, which is seem twice within this poem. First seen in “In all my dreams before my helpless sight…” and then again in “If in some smothering dreams.” These examples lead me to believe that the experiences that the author of the poem went through are so horrifying that the are repeating in his dreams. He may have purposefully used the word dreams rather than nightmares in order to lighten the impact, or maybe even increase its shock factor.

My last example for language used is the word drowning. I believe there is a significance to this word, as it is not commonly associated with gas, or what we would normally call the effect, choking. I believe the word drowning gives us an idea of how smothering and thick the gas was, there is no way to swim out of it, and the only way to survive it is with a gas mask or gas helmet. Instead of using the word choking, he used a more detailed example of how the people really died.

Images:

 

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Chris Waugh