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The Book Thief
Transcript of The Book Thief
The author of the novel is Markus Zusak
Born in Sydney, Australia in 1975
He is German and Australian
Zusak is also the author of the following books:
The underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, Bridge of Clay,
I am the messenger.
He has an Austrian father and a German mother, who both told him stories of World War II in their native countries.
Stories of his parents growing up during wartime in Munich and Vienna, such as the bombing of Munich and the Jews being marched through his mother's town on their way to Dachau concentration camp, greatly inspired his novel,
"The Book Thief"
Like the character Hans Hubermann (Liesel's father), Markus' father was a painter as well.
Some of his inspirations include
The Old Man and the Sea
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Point of View
About the book- continued
The literary time period of the novel is written in the age of Nazi, Germany; moreover, while Hitler was in his rein during World War II & in the midst of the holocaust.
The Book thief can be classified as a young-adults or historical fiction novel.
Presented by: Ellie & Amanda
The Book Thief
By: Markus Zusak
This story is narrated by death.
The author needed to have a character narrate the story that could show Liesel’s point of view, as well as information outside Liesel’s knowledge. The narrator needed to show more knowledge of the events of World War II than the characters on Himmel Street knew about.
Instead of just using third person, Zusak uses death to offer a unique perspective on the events of the story as well as emphasize the running theme of death and darkness.
Zusak turned death into a human like character. He gave him human emotions and thoughts. Death was not omniscient. He only got information from his own personal experiences. Death knew about Liesel’s life through reading her book that she wrote, entitled
The Book Thief
Isis archetype (strong sense of who she is/stands up for what she believes in
Changed from a distrustful, mad child to a loving daughter and friend.
"The fingers of her soul touched the story that was written so long ago in her Himmel Street basement" (Zusak 366).
Liesel's foster dad
Very loving towards Liesel
Patient and gentle
Very strong belief system
Stands up for what he believes in
"To most people, Hans Hubermann was barely visible. An un-special person. Certainly, his painting skills were
excellent. His musical ability was better than average. Somehow, though, and I’m sure you’ve met people like
this, he was able to appear as merely part of the background, even if he was standing at the front of a line. He
was always just there. Not noticeable. Not important or particularly valuable" (Zusak 25).
Liesel's foster mother
Comes across as cold and harsh, and sometimes is
Underneath her tough skin she is actually very loving
“Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger one that people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving" (Zusak 356).
Liesel's best friend
Athletic and intellectual
The embodiment of the "master race" of Nazi Germany
Incredibly loving to Liesel
“You might well ask just what the hell he was thinking. The answer is, probably nothing at all.He'd probably say he was exercising his God-given right to stupidity" (Zusak 204).
Secret resident of the Hubermann household
Jew in hiding
Very cautious and quiet (he has to be)
Became life long friends with her
"When death captures me," the boy vowed, "he will feel my fist on his face" (Zusak 127).
Narrator of the story
Dark sense of humor
Remorseful about the millions of souls he collected during World War II
The Book Thief was written by Marcus Zusak
The novel was published in 2005.
His inspiration came from thinking seriously of writing about his parents childhood, growing up in Germany and Austria, during World War II. He combined that with his random one-page story he wrote of a girl stealing a book in Sydney. (http://www.steppenwolf.org/watchlisten/program-articles/article.aspx?id=301)
"It kills me sometimes, how
people die" (Zusak 316).
• The novel begins with death introducing himself as the narrator of the story. He begins by saying he saw the book thief three times before she died: on the train, at the sight of the plane crash, and at the bombing. Death characterizes the three sightings with Liesel with three colors: white, red, and black. These are symbolic as it is the colors of the Nazi flag.
• The storyline begins Liesel, her brother, and her mother on a journey to another town. When her brother suddenly dies on the train, they are forced to get off and bury him in the snow where she steals her first book, the Gravedigger’s Handbook.
• Liesel and her mother continue their journey on the train to a town called Molching during the times of Nazi Germany. There she would meet her new foster parents, Hans and Rosa. Liesel is very timid around her parents, but soon develops a loving relationship with her father.
• Hans soon finds out that Liesel cannot read or write, so every night after Liesel woke up from her nightmare, Hans would come and read with her.
• Liesel adjusts to her life on Himmel Street and soon becomes friends with a rambunctious boy named Rudy.
• With political issues and Hitler at full reign, the town holds a book burning in the town square, where Liesel would steal her second book.
Plot Summary continued...
• Liesel begins to deliver laundry for her mother. One of her customers is the Mayor and his wife. The mayor’s wife witnessed Liesel stealing the book from the flames, and allows her to read in her large library.
• Meanwhile, a young Jewish man named Max shows up on the Hubermann’s doorstep, and they hide him in their basement. There he would become great friends with Liesel.
• After the mayor’s wife can no longer afford the washing, Liesel begins to sneak into her library and steal her books along with Rudy.
• The town is soon under bomb threats, and has many air raid scares.
• As the war continues, Nazi soldiers begin to parade the Jews through the streets of Molching on their way to Dachau.
• Hans gives one of the prisoners a piece of bread, and Nazi soldiers intervene, whipping Hans and the prisoner.
• Hans realizes that he has called attention to himself as a “Jew lover” and that Max was no longer safe at the Hubermann house.
• After another air raid, Liesel and Rudy find a crashed ally plane, where death meets Liesel for the second time.
• Liesel begins to write her story down in a notebook given to her by the mayor’s wife.
• One night as she is writing her story in the basement, Molching is bombed, and she is the only one on her street that survived, because she was in the basement.
• It is in the rubble that death meets Liesel again, and finds her book that he has been telling the whole story from.
Diction, Tone, and Mood
Setting and Its Function
The novel takes place mainly in a town called Molching in Nazi Germany, during the time of World War Two.
The setting helps set the mood of the book as it was a dark, scary time for the world, and the characters in the book.
Hitler had been in power as the self-declared führer for four years.
The Nuremberg laws had been set in place, and all Jews, along with Communists and Socialists, had their civil rights taken away. Many were also arrested and taken to concentration camps.
A majority of Aryan children were part of Hitler Youth, as Rudy and Liesel were (side note: Zusak's father was a member of the Hitler Youth)
The invasion of Russia in June of 1941 was also taking place, as many characters in the book were sent to Russia to fight.
The story ends with the allied bombing of Munich, Stuttgart, and the fictional town of Molching in 1943 (Shmoop)
"When it came down to it, one of them called the shots. The other did what he was told. The question is, what if the other is a lot more than one?” (Zusak 18)
This takes place as a reference to the guards and gravediggers, as each pair had a member that gave directions with the other one following without question.
This relates to the theme running throughout the novel of why did no one question Hitler and his actions? Why did so many people mindlessly follow his instructions without thinking of the repercussions?
“They were French, they were Jews, and they were you" (Zusak 239).
This quote shows that beyond Liesel's knowledge, there was a whole world of persecution and suffering.
It is almost a reminder to the reader that these atrocities were happening, as you get caught up in Liesel's life.
By using "you," Zusak shows that the people dying in camps were no different than you and I. They were the same as us, which makes their suffering that much more real and unimaginable.
“You could argue that Liesel Meminger had it easy. She did have it easy compared to Max Vandenburg. Certainly, her brother had practically died in her arms. Her mother abandoned her. But anything was better than being a Jew" (Zusak 110).
Liesel had seen a lot of suffering in her life, but no matter what she went through, she would always have a safer and less complicated life than Jewish people had.
This acts as a reminder to lesson our pity for Liesel, and instead, remember the many struggles of the prisoners under Hitler
About the book
The power of words:
In the novel, Max gives Liesel a story that he wrote for her and in the story he brings up how Hitler uses words to take over the world, not guns or money.
During the town fire in celebration of Hitler's birthday, many books were being burned so that nobody would get any ideas to question him and his actions. It was also meant to keep Jews from uprising, the book that Liesel steals from the fire is about a Jewish man becoming a hero, and the Nazi's could not have that idea out there. Words spread, which is why books needed to be destroyed.
The kindness and Cruelty of Humans:
Acts of kindness and cruelty are shown in many varying levels of severity throughout the novel. One act of kindness is the very act of hiding Max in the Hubermann's basement. A not so damaging example of cruelty is when Liesel's classmates harassed her for not being able to read a passage in a book. One very cruel action that is in response to a very kind act is when Hans Hubermann rushes out to a food-deprived, weak man and hands him a piece of bread; however, it resulted in the both of them being whipped by Nazi soldiers.
Symbolism in the novel:
Colors are symbolic in the novel as well. Death is very intrigued by the colors of the sky and uses that imagery to add to the mood of the story. Different colors of the sky are described during each different human-death; presenting the idea that their is a connection between the natural world and us humans and that death cares about every single person.
The Nazi flag and the swastika represent that they support Hitler and the Nazi regime. Many people fall into supporting Hitler in the novel because hanging your flag outside your house stood as support of the party and if you did not have a flag hung up, you were a target.
Books are a huge part of the novel. They symbolize going against the Nazi's and Hitler. The Nazi regime burns books to keep the town from getting any ideas of going against their ideology; however, Liesel steals many books for one purpose being to spite the Nazi's.
Looking at the narrator, Death, we can see a great level of diction using metaphors and figurative language thoroughly throughout the novel. Death sheds some light on Max almost coming to meet him, "I readied myself to insert my hands through the blankets. Then there was resurgence – an immense struggle against my weight. I withdrew… It was nice to be fought off in that dark little room”, however, he is fought and sounds relieved that he is. Diction that he uses is shown through the description of the the resurgence.
The tone is very colorful, however, it is also dark and melancholy. In the very beginning of the book the narrator states, "Here is a small fact- You are going to die." Death is a very blunt guy and gives the book a kind of tasteful flare with many metaphors making up for his realistic perspective.
The mood is very somber and scared. The author does a great job expressing the fear of the citizens living in Nazi Germany. The events taking place in the book such as, people being sent to concentration camps and being dehumanized and the Jews being striped of their belongings, adds to the depressing mood that flows throughout the novel.
The structure of the story is interupted by many different characters in the novel, making this occasionally being a frame narrative or possessing a story within a story.
The story cuts in and out from present time to past time. Many stories of Liesel and the other characters distract the narrator, Death, as he often jumps back in time and also gives away spoilers.
Death tells us one of his flash forwards in part ten, "Again, I offer you a glimpse of the end. Perhaps it’s to soften the blow for later, or to better prepare myself for the telling," but it is ony one of many.
"The Book Thief." Polymer Contents 27.8 (2010): n. pag. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
"The Book Thief." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Books in The Book Thief." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
"Watch & Listen." Steppenwolf Theatre Company. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Zusak, Markus. Book Thief. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.