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Markus Zusak - The Book Thief

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Justin Dickinson

on 19 December 2012

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Transcript of Markus Zusak - The Book Thief

Markus Zusak Markus Zusak grew up in Australia, always hearing about his mother's time in Nazi Germany.

S.E. Hinton was one author who truly inspired Markus Zusak to become a writer. Zusak's Literary Works: 1.) How Munich was bombed and the sky was on fire, turning everything red.

2.) When a group of Jews was marched through her town, a remarkably kind german gave a piece of bread to one of them. There were two stories his mother told him that stuck in his head: " Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear." - Death (pg 350) Colors - Death tells us that he tries to focus on the colors in the world, rather than the suffering and sadness that the humans he faces everyday go through. He attempts to appreciate the good things in life whenever possible; instead of allowing the evils of the world, and humanity itself, to overwhelm him. The very first few lines of the novel show us how he prefers to see things:
"First the colors.
Then the humans.
That's usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try."
(Zusak 3) Themes Imagination - This story shows time and again that books, and the words within them, can truly have an impact on people far beyond the author's intent. Whether it be a girl like Liesel Meminger, reading and bringing to life stories for desperate people down in a bomb shelter, or a man such as Max Vandenburg, writing about his beliefs and ideas while hiding for months down in a cellar; lives are changed, repeatedly, by the books mentioned, read, and stolen throughout this novel.

Even Death himself is touched by the words Liesel writes, he carries her story around with him in an attempt to remember that through all the hatred, all the madness, and all the sadness, humanity can still be beautiful. Hope - Throughout this novel, the author sets an incredibly depressing and hopeless scene, frequently putting his characters through terrible ordeals. Yet despite their trials, they never quite give up hope. Even when Max Vandenburg was deathly ill for days, the Hubermanns never gave up on him . They continued to try and nurse him back to health despite his poor condition. The Book Thief Liesel is a young girl who is going to live with her foster parents just outside of Munich,
Germany; it is too dangerous to remain with her mother.
Her foster father, Hans Hubermann, teaches her to read and Liesel falls in love with it.
Since the Hubermanns could not afford books, Liesel resorts to stealing them. Mortality
The Book Thief is told from Death's point of view, and from the very beginning our narrator states, in no uncertain terms, that this is a story in which he features frequently. But the Death in this book is not an evil grim reaper, he's a world-weary, philosophical spirit whose job is to remove the souls of the dead and carry them on into the afterlife. He introduces himself perfectly:

"Please, trust me. 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)

Mortality is a huge part of a story where nearly every single character dies before the conclusion is reached. And Zusak handles it in a sad, melancholy way, having Death carefully lift up each of their souls with care and reverance before carrying them from this world. Identity
Throughout The Book Thief, the character's Identities are called into question again and again. Who are they to allow the horrors of the Holocaust to continue unopposed, and yet, who are they to stop an entire nation from doing what everyone around them seems to believe is right? Jewish characters such as Max Vandenburg live constantly with guilt, the guilt of being alive when your discovery could cause the instant demise of those you love. Kind German characters like Hans Hubermann live constantly in the fear of being arrested and murdered for their tolerant and helpful attitude towards a race their entire country despises. Love
In Nazi Germany during World War II, hatred flowed freely from person to person, group to group, and race to race. Yet Love was a uncommon commodity to be found, and all the more treasured because of it.

For the characters in The Book Thief, Love is a powerful force that pulls them all together in an inseparable web of friendship, sadness, and memories. In a world where giving a month old piece of bread, or even a smile to another is tantamount to treason, small acts of kindness and compassion go an incredibly far way towards bringing people together.

"He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them." (44.42) One day, a Jewish man, Max Vandenburg, came to the Hubermann's doorstep needing shelter in the current state of Nazi controlled Germany.

A Background of Max Vandenburg
When Hans served in World War I, he became good friends with another soldier.
Max is this soldier's son. When the soldier died, Hans visited his mother and promised to do whatever he could to help. As it turns out, protecting Max was this help. Criteria of a Good Book Max and Liesel Liesel and Max become very close over their short time together
When Max is sick, Liesel reads to him and brings him various gifts
Max writes Liesel two books
One is a short story from when they first met
The other is a lengthy collection of stories that Max thought of and drew and wrote about

Both of these books become very dear to Liesel. Max's Departure One day, when a group of Jewish prisoners are marched through Liesel's town, Hans ventures out there to give one of them a piece of bread
He was whipped by one of the soldiers, but he knew his mistake was larger than that
If Max was found, he and Rosa would be sent away for a long time and Max would join a concentration camp
Because of this, Hans told Max that he should lie low nearby, outside of town for a while until his house had been searched
At this point, Max decided that the Hubermanns had done enough for him, so he tried to make it on his own Max The End of the World For one German girl in a small town outside Munich, the world as she knew it was about to end
On a night when the air raid siren did not sound, Himmel Street was decimated with bombs
Rudy, Hans, Rosa, and everybody that Liesel knew was dead, everybody except Max
Liesel's life was saved by the fact that she was in the basement, where she often read and wrote to remember Max
In a twist of irony, Max's life was saved because he did not remain on Himmel Street, but was rather captured and marched to a concentration camp The End Liesel would spend the rest of her time in Germany with Rudy's father, Alex, who survived because he was away in the army
After the war was over, Max came to Alex's tailor shop to find Liesel, after which they embraced; he was the only person left from Liesel's old life
Liesel would move to a suburb of Sydney, Australia, where she spent the rest of her time until Death came for her like all those she knew long ago "After another ten minutes, the gates of thievery would open just a crack, and Liesel Meminger would widen them a little further and squeeze through." (pg 117) The End of the World For one German girl, the world as she knew it would soon end
One night, when the air raid sirens did not sound, bombs fell on Liesel's town
Everyone that she knew had died in the bombings, save for, she hoped, Max
What saved her life was that she was in the basement reading and writing, which she often did to remember Max "After another ten minutes, the gates of thievery would open just a crack, and Liesel Meminger would widen them a little further and squeeze through." (pg 117) 1. Interesting plot that keeps the reader wanting more

2. Characters that grow and evolve over the course of events in the book.
We watched Liesel grow up and learn to read, steal and love. She was a quiet young girl who grew to become very confident in herself and her actions.

3. A creative writing style. ( Ex. Narrated by Death)

4. Good use of imagery and details
Death uses colors to describe the setting which sets the mood of the scene. Should The Book Thief be added to the curriculum? While The Book Thief is a great read, it is simply too long to fit in with the other books that are already in the curriculum
But if it were to be added, it would probably be a higher level course, no lower than English III
It would be better suited to a summer reading book because of its length
It is definitely a different kind of story and a different way to tell a story that many of the high school age would likely benefit from reading
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