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Color Imagery in The Book Thief

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Pritam Kanthala

on 24 August 2016

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Transcript of Color Imagery in The Book Thief

Quote: "The last time I saw her [the book thief] was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness... Then, bombs," (Zusak 12).
By: Pritam Kanthala and Chethan Datla
Color Imagery in
The Book Thief

Essay Prompt
Prompt: Analyze how Markus Zusak uses color imagery to enhance the story/setting and symbolize the environment and events throughout the novel.
Red symbolizes violence, blood, emergency, danger, and compassion
Death's description of the sky as red suits the atmosphere of the bombing
The blood-red sky and specks of smoky black further enhance the sense of violence, danger, and death during the bombing
Liesel loses her loved ones in the bombing, contributing to the compassion symbolized by the red sky
Red is a part of the Nazi flag
Death's line of work (taking away souls from their dead bodies) tires and saddens him
He distracts himself with the colors around him (specifically of the sky) to go on "vacation" from his job
His focus on colors to describe what's going on around him becomes an important element of the plot of
The Book Thief
Quote: "She [the book thief] died in a suburb of Sydney... The sky was the best blue of afternoon. Like her papa, her soul was sitting up," (Zusak 543).
White symbolizes winter, snowy weather, "coldness" of death, purity, and innocence.
In this case, white represents the purity and innocence of Liesel's young brother.
White also represents the sadness of the death of such an innocent child, and the cold winter environment around them.
To a certain extent, it can be used to symbolize death in The Book Thief, since it is a part of the Nazi flag.
It clearly enhances the setting by highlighting itself as the main color of the cold winter and death in this particular event.
Blue symbolizes peace, happiness, brilliance, and courage
The description of the sky as blue here illustrates the strength and courage that Liesel has shown to get to the end of her life
It also represents the peace and happiness evident at the end of Liesel's life, when she has a happy family and has finally ended her time during the terrible Nazi regime
The blue sky enhances the setting here by further enforcing the righteous, peaceful life and perfect end of Liesel Meminger
Quote: "It was white. It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Trees wore blankets of ice. I studied the blinding, white-snow sky who stood at the window of the moving train... Curiosity got the better of me, and I resigned myself to stay... Twenty-three minutes later, ... a small soul was in my arms," (Zusak 6-8).
Quote: "Things like Rudy on a dais with three gold medals slung around his neck.
Hair the color of lemons
was written beneath it," (Zusak 444).
Quote: "Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark, chocolate. People say it suits me," (Zusak 4).
Yellow symbolizes warning/hazard, along with youth, sunshine, happiness, and optimism
Death constantly describes Rudy's hair as the color of lemons, which illustrates that Rudy is a boy with the traits above
The sky is tinged yellow during bombings and air raids, which supports the warning/hazard symbolization
This use of the color yellow provides some visual imagery and enhances the environment and events occurring throughout the story.
Death himself prefers a chocolate brown sky.
This emphasizes the relative darkness/death shown by a dark shade of brown
Brown itself symbolizes wholesomeness, stability/resilience, and reliability
Death is a very stable and resilient being, almost always taking away souls from their dead bodies reliably
Death remains wholesome since he retains feelings for and against humans and is shown to be intrigued by the book thief
Quote: "Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father's eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting, Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot," (Zusak 34).

Quote: "Papa's right hand strolled the tooth-colored keys. His left hit the buttons. (She especially loved to see him hit the silver, sparkled button - the C major)," (Zusak 38).
Silver symbolizes security, reliability, calm, wisdom, worth, and music
It can even symbolize friendship/love, as seen when Death describes the sky as silver when Liesel kisses Rudy
Hans's silver eyes and accordion further enhance him as being strongly characteristic of these traits
The use of silver cements Death's fascination with the colors around him, and shows that he will remember a less common color of the sky, even in a situation as tragic as Rudy's death
Black symbolizes the absence of color or life, destruction, mourning, death, and the terror of the Nazi regime.
Black was the color used for the swastika, the symbol that idealized Hitler's wretched ideals. It is a part of the Nazi flag.
The black in this scenario showcases the death that any Allied soldier will face if they stepped into the territory of Hitler's reign.
The black sky and swastika enhance the atmosphere of mourning and utter destruction felt at the time of the poor pilot's death.
Quote: "Above me, the sky eclipsed - just a last moment of darkness[/blackness] - and I swear I could see a black signature in the shape of a swastika. It loitered...above," (Zusak 491).
Quote: "I do try to enjoy every color
I see - the whole spectrum. A billion
or so flavors [colors], none of them
quite the same, and a sky to slowly
suck on. It takes the edge off the
stress," (Zusak 4)
Full transcript