The Book Thief Essay

Category: Book Thief
Last Updated: 07 Jul 2020
Essay type: Book Analysis
Pages: 5 Views: 462

Describe at least ONE character or individual you enjoyed reading about in the text(s). Explain why the character(s) or individual(s) helped you understand an idea in the text(s). History and especially World War Two is a testament to the duality of human nature. Jeffery Kluger in an article for Time Magazine reflects on this aspect of human nature. “The madness {lies} in the fact that the savage and the splendid can exist in one creature, one person and often in one instant. I enjoyed reading about Liesel Meminger in the novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Liesel is nine years old and lives in Nazi Germany. In the early chapters of the book we learn that her younger brother has dies, her father is missing ad her communist mother has arranged for her to be adopted by Hans and Rosa Hubermann. It is while Liesel is living in the Hubermann’s household on Himmel Street that readers engage with her rite of passage and her witness of the extreme ugliness and beauty of human behaviour.

Liesel is a moral compass, helping the reader to understand the idea that we can counter loss and hatred with the power of words and acts of compassion. Liesel helps the reader to understand the idea that we can counter loss and hatred with the power of words and acts of compassion through her relationship with Max, a Jew hidden by Han’s Hubermann in his basement. Living in a suffocating Nazi era, Liesel still manages to form a loving and secretive friendship with an unlikely Jew that allows the reader to be engaged and feel too the emotions shared between Liesel and Max. They were the erased pages of Mein Kampf, gagging, suffocating under the paint as they turned” this is an example of the many counter words of hatred entwined with the words of love. One of the smallest treasures in Liesels life is the power held within her stories and imagination. Max and Liesels friendship takes height when Max gifts Liesel a story created by him called The Standover Man. The story portrays the image of a weak Jew finding hope in a small girl, the story of Max and Liesel. “Now I live in the basement. Bad dreams still live in my sleep.

One Night, after my usual nightmare, a shadow stood above me. She said, ‘tell me what you dream of’ so I did. ” A further example of the counter hatred and loss is shown when Max asks Liesel to tell him what the weather is like outside, in the world above his concrete live. “Often, I wish this would all be over Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement with a snowman in your hands” this quote expresses the life that Max is living and how Liesel can bring him moments of hope and joy and promote optimism for an outcome at the end of this life.

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As a member of the Hitler Youth, Liesel is taught that Jews are inferior to the German race. This quote is an example of counter hate and teachers the reader of the trust and compassion shared by Liesel and Max; despite the dictating Nazi propaganda, Liesel forms her own opinions and allows the reader to follow her example by looking at Max in a positive light and find the true beauty of human nature. Also, Liesels relationship with Han’s Hubermann helps the reader to understand the idea that we can counter loss and hatred with the power of words and the acts of compassion.

An example of this is shown in the first chapters of the story where Liesels brother dies on their dreadful train journey to Mochling. Liesel has nightmares every night about this tragic event and Hans’ acts of compassion counter the loss in Liesels life. Liesel and Hans share a loving Father, Daughter relationship shared once again between their love of reading and imagination. Hans and Liesel share a loving relationship in Liesels time of need and Hans offers countless love and support.

From her first arrival at Himmel Street, Liesels relationship with Hans is shown, ‘Hans Hubermann had just completed rolling a cigarette, having licked the paper and joined it up. He looked over at Liesel and winked. She would have no trouble calling him Papa. ’ Hans is the antithesis of Liesels foster mother, a compassionate being with a calm tone of voice. After Liesels embarrassing bed wetting incident, Hans’ role as a passionate Father is shown. Hans and Liesel share a common interest of reading and writing and as Hans teaches Liesel to read and write, he teaches himself to advance his reading skills.

Liesels incident of loss with her brother in countered when Hans hangs her sheets and says ‘let the midnight class start’. Hans teaches the reader than a sharing of common interests in key in a child’s development and allowed his relationship with Liesel as her Papa to really progress because they shared a mutual interest in the arts of reading and writing. Further, Liesel helps the reader to understand the ideas that we can counter loss and hatred with the power of words through her actions related to books and reading.

In life, we as readers find that stories are means of escape – imagination is one place we can control in even the darkest of times. Liesel shares a mutual relationship of loss with Isla Hermann, the mayor’s wife. Isla lost her son in a fatal incident with a barbed wire fence and uses her library and books as a means of escape from reality. Liesel and Isla share a mutual passion for books and reading and find a friendship forming because of this. Liesel is denied very few joys in life because her family’s economic position and she steals books as a means to fulfil her empty void.

She however is taken aside when she is shown the massive library located and Isla Hermann’s abode and Death narrates “it was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen” Both Liesel and Isla counter loss and hatred with the power of words through her actions related to books and reading. Liesel is most certainly a moral compass, helping the reader that we can counter loss and hatred with the power of words and acts of compassion.

The reader further engages with her rite of passage and her witness of extreme ugliness and the beauties of human nature. Liesel in The Book Thief is a character I enjoyed reading about. She allows the reader an intimate view of one of the most shameful periods in human history yet in doing so she reminds us of some of the most compassionate acts in human history. Markus Zusak, like his character Liesel, uses powerful words to manipulate and engage the reader so that we never forget the duality of human nature and the need for compassion in the face of brutality.

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The Book Thief Essay. (2016, Nov 18). Retrieved from

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