The Usage of Foreshadowing in The Book Theif

Category: Books
Last Updated: 23 Mar 2023
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Authors use a variety of literary devices to make a book more interesting and keep the reader in suspense. The author of the “The Book Thief”, Markus Zusak, likes to use the literary device called foreshadowing. He makes the book suspenseful, revealing how characters die early on and telling the reader the outcome to certain events. By revealing how characters die early on and telling the reader the outcome, Zusak makes the novel more suspenseful with his use of vague descriptions of the scenes which he is foreshadowing.

In the book, Zusak tells the reader early on that Rudy, one of the main characters, is going to die. “He didn’t deserve to die the way he did”. Zusak then tells the reader how he died and two years later he is going to die. “Recollections like those merely remind me that he was not deserving of the fate that met a little under two years later…He’d have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips. ” Rudy dies from a bomb. The question the reader would have is; two years from what?

That’s what leaves the reader in suspense--the fact that the reader knows Rudy will die in two years, but does not know exactly when those two years start. This is a way Zusak tells us the future without giving us all the details. With just a little information, the reader is eager to read more about the situation and satisfy his curiosity. Alex Steiner and Hans Huberman had to serve the same punishment? “Alex Steiner wouldn’t have suffered the same punishment as Hans Huberman.

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At this point in the book, the reader wouldn’t know that why Hans and Alex would be punished or what their punishments would be. We know from this quote that they would be punished and their punishment would be the same. But this leaves the reader with questions like: What is Han’s punishment? Why is Alex Steiner being punished? Why is the punishment the same? These questions have yet to be answered. Zusak is giving the reader a statement that raises questions that are not answered until later in the book, making the novel more suspenseful.

Towards the end of the book, Zusak gives the reader a look into when the world ended for Liesel Mimmel, the main character. “I must warn you that it was raining when the world ended for Liesel Mimmel….. Rudy Steiner slept. Mama and Papa slept. .Fra Holtzapfel, Fra Diller. Tommy Muller. All sleeping. All dying. ” In the foreshadowing, Zusak tells the reader that everyone dies around Liesel, which is why her world ended.

This leaves the reader in suspense because Zusak only tells the reader what happens--not when it happened, why it happened or why Liesel was still alive. These quotes from “The Book Thief” mentioned were examples of how Zuzak makes this book thrilling. By using vague descriptions of scenes, Zusak is foreshadowing which makes the reader want to read more to satisfy the reader’s curiosity. This is how Zusak made “The Book Thief” so interesting and how, when a reader picks up the book and starts reading, the book is hard to put down.

Related Questions

on The Usage of Foreshadowing in The Book Theif

How is foreshadowing used in The Book Thief?
Foreshadowing is used in The Book Thief to hint at events that will occur later in the story. For example, early in the novel, Liesel is warned that books will bring her trouble, which foreshadows the danger she will face later in the novel for her involvement in the book-stealing and book-sharing activities. Additionally, the frequent references to death throughout the novel foreshadow the eventual death of many of the characters.
What is the foreshadowing in The Book Thief prologue?
The foreshadowing in The Book Thief prologue is the narrator's ominous description of the setting and the characters. He mentions the "fury of the skies" and the "fury of the war" that will soon come, hinting at the destruction and violence that will soon befall the characters. He also mentions the "silent sky" and the "silent snow" that will soon blanket the town, foreshadowing the death and destruction that will soon come.
What is an event that is foreshadowed in the thief?
An event that is foreshadowed in the Thief is the protagonist's eventual capture and imprisonment. Throughout the story, the protagonist is warned by his friends and family that his thieving ways will eventually lead to his downfall, and this foreshadows his eventual capture and imprisonment.
What is an example of foreshadowing in Part 5 of The Book Thief?
An example of foreshadowing in Part 5 of The Book Thief is when Liesel is told by her foster father, Hans, that she should not be afraid of the dark, as it is her friend. This foreshadows the moment when Liesel is able to find comfort in the darkness of the bomb shelter during an air raid.

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The Usage of Foreshadowing in The Book Theif. (2017, Feb 28). Retrieved from

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