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The Book Thief
Transcript of The Book Thief
written by: Markus Zusak
Presentation by: Tegen Tutt and Ally Peeples
- Born in Sydney, Australia
- Austrian father and German mother
- Other books include The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, When Dogs Cry, and The Messenger
- Won Printz honor award for The Messenger and The Book Thief
Motive for Writing
The Book Thief
published March 14,2006
When he was young his parents told him stories from when they experienced Nazi Germany first hand. one in particular about a jewish person receiving bread inspired the story originally. He was particularly inspired by the combination of such beauty and hate. There was no movement going on at the time that caused him to write the book, he just wanted to inspire people the way his mom's stories inspired him.
This book's genre is classified as Historical Fiction since it is not based on actual events but it is based in an actual time period that took place.
The book thief is the story of a young girl named Liesel Meminger who is growing up in Nazi Germany. The story begins when she is nine years old and is having to deal with the death of her younger brother and the separation from her mom. At her brother’s funeral she finds a book entitled, “The Grave Digger’s Handbook”. She takes this with her when she goes to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann on Himmel Street. Though she cannot yet read, she feels a deep sentimental attachment to the book, and after being bullied in school for her inability to read, Hans begins to take on the task of teaching her. These lessons take place every night after Liesel wakes up from her nightmares. In addition to teaching her how to read, he often at times plays her the accordion to relax her. She grows very close to Mr. Huberman and eventually begins to call him Papa. While she is living with the Hubermanns she finds a friend in her neighbor Rudy Steiner who constantly urges her to kiss him. She becomes very happy living on Himmel Street and begins to collect the washing from her surrounding neighbors. She becomes increasingly interested in Islaa Herman, the mayor’s wife. Around this time the Nazi party is growing and local Jewish shops are destroyed and yellow stars are painted on the windows. In addition to this Liesel and Rudy are forced to join the Band of German Girls and Hitler youth.
On Hitler’s birthday the town gets together to burn enemy propaganda. This is where liesel steals her second book. Islaa sees her and invites her into her library to share her love of books with her. She starts to realize that it is Hitler’s fault that her brother is dead and her mom. In the meantime, Max Vandenburg is hiding in a nearby storage closet. It is later revealed that Max Vandenburg’s dad was the one who taught Hans how to play the accordion. A man named Walter Kugler is helping Max out and reaches out to Hans to ask if he is still willing to keep the promise that he made to Max’s mom after World War I. His promise was that if Max’s mom ever needed anything, he would help her. Hans ends up hiding Max in his basement. Max and Liesel eventually bond over similar interests and nightmares. It is around this time that Rosa loses her job and Liesel joins a group of kids that steal fruit from farmers. In addition to stealing fruit, Liesel sneaks into Isla’s library through a window and steals her third book. Later on Liesel returns with Rudy to steal another book. She steals a dictionary/thesauraus and finds a note from Isla saying that she is welcome to use the front door too. A while after this the air raids begin and the Hubermans and the Steiner’s take shelter in the Fiedler’s basement and find comfort in one of Liesel’s stolen books.
One day after they all took shelter in the basement, Hans tries to help another Jew. Him and Alex Steiner are both punished and forced to serve as different roles in the army. Rosa gives Liesel a book made by Max called The World Shaker. It is a story of a young girl who uses her words for good not evil. Around this time Hans gets injured and comes home. One day the Nazis are marching Jews through Liesel’s town and Liesel spots Max. She runs to him and begins to recite the words from The World Shaker and ends up getting whipped for her actions. Afterwards she tells Rudy about Max. This whole event makes her extremeling frustrated with words. She didn’t like how they could bring so much hate to some people. She goes to Islaa Hermann’s library and begins to tear books apart. She leaves a note apologizing and saying that she wont return to her library. Then, Islaa shows up at her door with a journal for Liesel to write her own words down with. Liesel is busy writing in that very journal when bombs go off. Since she was in the basement while she was writing in her journal, she survives while the rest of her loved ones do not. Among those was Rudy. She kisses him on the lips an then shortly after is taken away. At this time death finds and takes the book that Liesel wrote, entitled The Book Thief. She returns home with Islaa and the mayor and meets up with Alex Steiner. They spend a lot of time together and eventually are reunited with Max. Liesel goes on to live for a while after that and eventually when death comes to collect her again, they talk and he wants to ask her about humans and her book. He cant though and instead tells her that humans haunt him.
The tone of the story is dreary and dark because it focuses on mostly sad events like the abandonment of her mother, the bombing of her town, and just a period of time filled with a lot death and despair. There are however glimmers of hope through all of the dreariness and it encourages readers to take a stand against in just actions like the ones the Nazis were carrying out.
Liesel is the protagonist of the book. She has a hard life and experiences multiple traumatic events. She experiences many losses in her life as a young child. Liesel has trust issues due to the fact that her mother and father left her. In the beginning she is socially impaired, because she never knows how to act around people. For example, when someone makes fun of her for not being able to read, she beats them up. When Liesel matures throughout the book she realizes some of the things she did was not right. She begins to realize that during this particular time everyone has troubles.
"Can we finish the book, please?" (Zusak 86)
She wakes Papa to finish the final chapter of "The Gravediggers handbook" at 3 in the morning.
" "Starving." For a book. " (Zusak 286)
"Rudy, please, wake up,Goddamn it, wake up, I love you. Come on Rudy, come on, Jesse Owens, don't you know I love you, wake up, wake up, wake up..." (Zusak 535)
Death is the narrator of the book. He has a deep interest in Liesel and he watches over her. He visits her family members and people close to her throughout the book. It is only at the end that the book that the thief and death finally meet.
"I am haunted by Humans" (Zusak 550)
"I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that's only the A's. Just don't ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me." (Zusak 3)
Hans acts as Liesel's father, he is loving and caring. The complete opposite of his wife. He makes Liesel one of his own, he teachers her how to read and what is wrong and right. He sells his cigarettes to get Liesel a Christmas present. He loves playing the accordian for Liesel and he makes up his own songs. He has fought in WW1 and fights in WW2 until he get injured and sent home.
Rudy and Liesel are best friends. Rudy has also stuck up for Liesel no matter what. He sticks up for what he believes in and would never back down. He is sweet and loving, but he is also sneaky, he tries steal a kiss from Liesel. Rudy is aslo very independent. His hero is Jesse Owens an Olympic athlete. Rudy sadly gets blown up when Liesel are hiding in the basement. Liesel is distraught by this.
"One day Liesel," he said, "you'll be dying to kiss me." (Zusak 55)
"He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grace without them." (Zusak 303)
Narrated by Death, talking about Rudy.
Max is a Jewish man, whom leaves his family to save himself, this haunts him forever. He hides out in the Hubermann's basement, he knows by doing this he is putting everyone at great risk. He has a strong will to live and will do anything to survive. He eventually gets taken away and put into a camp in Dachau. Max is a fighter and is never not fighting, accept when he and Liesel are together, his personality changes and it is like he is someone else.
"When death captures me," the boy vowed, "he will feel my fist on his face." (Zusak 189)
"Better than i deserve -- thank you."
When Hans gets max a bed for the basement
"You've done enough" (Zusak 398)
Max's last words.
Rosa Hubermann is Hans Hubermanns wife. the two are complete opposites and Rosa does not impact Liesel like Hanns does. Rosa also owns her own business, she does the washing and ironing for rich people and delivers it to their doorstep Rosa is mean and tough on Liesel. She tell her what to do and when to do it. If she ever said no or did something against her rules she would get hit with the wooden spoon. Although Rosa comes across as a mean person, deep down she cares and loves Rosa; she just does not know how to express the love.
The mood of the book is also dreary and dark. This is mainly because Death is the narrator and it deals with many people dying or dealing with hard events.
Some themes of the book include, the power of words and love in the face of hatred.
Ilsa Hermann is the mayors wife. She owns a library and lets Liesel borrow books from the library once she finds out that Liesel was stealing them anyway. She is an accepting lady and respects people for who they are. Earlier in the book she looses her son, this destroys her. Liesel's happy presence around the books helps IIsa show emotions towards people again.
Alex Steiner is Rudy's dad.He is a typical father figure who teaches his son the difference between right and wrong. For example he taught Rudy that running across a field with charcoal smudged across his face pretending to be the African american Olympian was not a wise thing to do at the time. Alex was a normal dad who did what he thought was right. Alex decided that he could never give Rudy up for the Nazi training camp and he himself got drafted to fight in the War. When we arrived home alive he was devastated to find out that he was the oly survivor out of his family.
Frau is the Hubermanns neighbor; Rosa and Frau do not get along. Everyday when Frau is on her way home she passes the Hubermanns house and spits on their door. eventually Frau opens up to them and starts talking to them because her son died. During this point in time she feels incredibly alone and vulnerable.
The book is set in the time of World War 2 and all of the problems that were occurring at the time. The book is not based off of a true story, however we can still assume that some things that occurred in the book happened to people in real life given that it was inspired by true events that Markus' mother told him about.
The book takes place in a small town called Molching, which in fact is not a real town. Zusak made up the town for the book, therefore we do not know much about the town. However, Munich, the place closest to Molching is a real town. Munich was the center for the nazi party around World War II. In the book Molching is set inbetween the concentration camp in Dachau and Munich. When Liesel is aloud some free time to herself, she likes to go outside and play soccer on the street with her friends. Liesel also walks around town delivering washing for Rosa. One of Liesels favorite things to do is go on walks with Hanns, he reads to her on the walks and she roles his cigarrettes for him.
Point of view
The point of view is in first person. Death is the narrator and he watches over Liesel throughout the whole book, watching and analyzing her every move.
"I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." (Zusak 528)
She has hated them because she did not understand them and got bullied because of this.
She has loved them because books bring back memories of her brother and the first book she ever read.
They also bring back memories of Papa reading to her at night and teaching her how to read and write.
She hopes she has made them right because she spent so long trying to perfect them.
The girl: "Tell me. What do you see when you dream like that?"
The Jew: "...I see myself waving goodbye."
The girl: "I also have nightmares."
The Jew: "What do you see?"
The girl: "A train, and my dead brother."
The jew: "He died when i moved here, on the way."
The girl and the Jew together: "Ja--yes."
Liesel and Max have many things in common
They have both lost many important people
They both have nightmares
The nightmares symbolize the pain that is there and also how scared and vulnerable they both are.
"You want to know what I truly look like? I'll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while i continue." (Zusak 307)
Death is in all of us
It eventually captures up to us
The worst is in ourselves
! Lick my ass! I'll speak as loud as I want! (Zusak 41)
"You know what he did? He rolled up all of his filthy cigarettes, went to the market when it was in town, and traded them with some gypsy." (Zusak 89)
"What the hell did you do with my hairbrush, you stupid Saumensh, you little thief? I've told you a hundred times to leave the thing alone, but do you listen? Of course not!" (Zusak 332)
"Point Five: Somewhere, far down, there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out." (Zusak 80)
A quote about Alex Steiner
"Because you shouldn't want to be like black people or Jewish people or anyone who is... not
." (Zusak 80)
"You know how to roll a cigarette?" (Zusak 33)
"I don't need trade any more cigarettes, do I? Not when you're stealing these things as fast as I can buy them?" (Zusak 126)
The diction of The Book Thief is medium to high because phrases and words that are not commonly put together are. For example death the narrator uses colors and connects them to feelings in relation to certain situations, which can be confusing for some readers.
In The Book Thief, one literary device that is used a lot is symbolism. For example the accordion symbolizes hope for Hans because it was given to him by the man who saved his life. Later on books become a symbol of hope for Liesel because the ability to read was given to her by Hans, who you could argue saved her life and also taught her the power of words. Imagery is also used with colors which set the mood and tone for the book.
Structure and Organization
The book is written in a non-linear way, meaning that it is not just chronological. By using flashback and foreshadowing, the book tends to jump around a lot. While this can be confusing, it worked for this book because it allowed readers to learn more about specific characters(ex: Max).
"Markus Zusak." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 7
Feb. 2014. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/
"Markus Zusak." : Home of The Book Thief and I
Am the Messenger. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Book Thief."
Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 9 Feb. 2014. <http://www.shmoop.com/book-thief>.
Zusak, Markus. The book thief. New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 2006. Print.