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THE BOOK THIEF
Transcript of THE BOOK THIEF
An Impressions and Comprehension Guide By Cameron Welch
To put it simply, this is the book that makes eagles cry. I'll explain later.
Seriously, why do I keep getting the sad books for this semester?
To Describe The Book Thief in a Sentence?
A young, adopted girl goes through the everyday problems of Germany in the 1940s only to slowly get sucked into a bigger tragedy: war
Setting of The Book Thief
Primary Location: 33 Himmel Street, Molching, Germany
Point of View: Third Person Omniscient
(We'll cover our lovely narrator later)
33 Himmel Street is the residence of Liesel and the Hubermanns, and the respective street contains many other essential characters, including the Steiners and Frau Holtzapfel.
Other Locations Include:
Stuttgart: Max Vandenburg's previous home
Munich Street: The main street of Molching.
Amper River: A main backdrop to Liesel and Rudy's stealing trade.
Dachau: A city near Molching; the location of a concentration camp
A Personal Trip to the Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus
Himmel: German for "heaven"
Frau: German for Mrs.
Saumensch: female pig
Saukerl: male pig
Characters in The Book Thief
The Book Thief has a strong sense of community, and naturally features many characters. It...also makes the climax sadder...
Main Characters of The Book Thief
Liesel Meminger: The main character of the book, and the titular "book thief". She is adopted to the Hubermanns early in the book, and the majority of the plot involves her experiences in Molching. The trials and tribulations are marked by her books. Liesel is probably one of my favorite protagonists in a long time in that she doesn't exist as a caricature. She isn't snarky or forced to be relatable, and her trauma doesn't exist to make us like her out of sympathy. She stands out because we watch her grow up, and there's nothing closer to us than our mere existence.
Hans Hubermann: The accordion-playing, cigarette-loving adoptive father to Liesel. Unlike most adoption scenarios, Hans goes on to form an inseparable bond with Liesel. For the most part, he is calm and enthusiastic, and filled with love and patience. While commonly insulted, he maintains his demeanor with stride, but is not afraid to be deathly serious.
Rosa Hubermann: The bitter adoptive mother to Liesel, and the destroyer of the swear jar. While most of her dialogue towards Liesel begins with nagging and insults, all of them are superficial, and she slowly reveals herself to be very tender and great in a crisis. She is the tsundere of the book. Ha!
Rudy Steiner: A somewhat bombastic, but also very loyal friend of Liesel. The two interact first through soccer, but soon go on to form a sentimental, personal friendship. Rudy shows strong romantic interest in Liesel, to which she never repays
Max Vandenburg: The feather-haired, Jewish fistfighter! The son of an old friend of Hans, the Hubermanns hide him in their basement to repay his father's life debt. During his time at the house, he forms a close bond with Liesel and delivers to her two books made from a destroyed "Mein Kampf". He also has dreams...of boxing Hitler.
Mein Kampf. Mein Kampf. My Lovely Lady Kampfs.
An autobiography by Adolph Hitler, which translates to "My Struggle". Owned by Max to lead away conspicuousness, to contain various tools, and read out of interest.
Just to roll some off for you...
Ilsa Hermann: the mayor's wife, and provider of many of Liesel's books, many of which were stolen. Her relationship with Liesel is one that is apologetically sympathetic, and despite Liesel constantly being mad at her, she is not mad at the girl for a second.
Tommy Muller: A kid with constant problems with ear infections, to the point where surgery has had to be involved and his hearing has been gravely affected.
Trudy and Hans Jr. Hubermann: The adult children of Hans and Rosa, the two consistently appear around holidays in the book. Hans Jr. is a diehard Nazi, and storms out in rage early on in the book, never to be seen again. He's a bit of an ethnocentric.
Arthur Berg: Former adolescent thief to a group of kids in Molching. He fuels Liesel and Rudy's desire to steal.
The Holtzapfels: A family consisting of a mother and two, grown kids. Frau Holtzapfel is bitter and hateful to the Hubermanns, spitting on their porch, but is soon lulled into a repentance and placidity with the death of her sons.
Death is the narrator of The Book Thief, and retells the story of Liesel after retrieving of her book [also named the Book Thief].
Let's Talk About Death
Death's character in The Book Thief is quite an outlier compared to most tales of a reaper. He's a cynic, sure, but Death doesn't find gratification or lust in retrieving the dead. He seems to have a personal relationship with it. He finds relief in taking the suffering, but he also has remorse for having to take the lives of the loved. He hates the deeds of the human race, but finds quenching admiration for it.
"I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race - that rarely do I ever simply estimate it."
Objects of Value in The Book Thief
Books: Liesel owns 14 books by the end of the book, though 10 are only really important. Fittingly, they make up the 10 "Parts" of the story. In conjunction, they also mark Liesel's progression with reading, going from practically having no literacy, to reading aloud to others in a bomb shelter, to writing exquisitely on her own.
A Kiss: Rudy, as I've said, is quite into Liesel. He wants to earn her kiss, but never falters his loyalty when rejected. Alas, Rudy goes to his death before he gets one. Take that as literally as you want.
"The Book Thief: encouraging necrophilia since 2005"
-Andrew Altmann 2014
ANDY YOU DO NOT GET TO MAKE
FUN OF THIS SAD BOOK
The Grave Digger's Handbook
The Shoulders Shrug
The Standover Man
(1 of 2 from Max)
The Dream Carrier
The Complete Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus
The Word Shaker
The Last Human Stranger
The Book Thief
(Made by Liesel)
(2 of 2 Made by Max)
Obstacles/Themes in The Book Thief
Nazism and Ethnocentrism: This aspect mostly follows Max and Hans Hubermann. With WW2 underway, naturally, Jews are regarded as filth to the Nazi Party. Max has to hide for a good 5-6 years of his life with the advent of the Holocaust. From the German citizen perspective, Hans is one of the few to have not joined the Nazi party due to a mixture of taking up for Jewish discrimination and having had a Jew save his life in WW1.
War: War separates a lot of people in The Book Thief. For a duration of the story, Hans is thrown into WW2, and Rudy is considered for a youth program. And that's not regarding war's unfriendly fire...
Innocence: What this means varies, from Liesel's ascension into adulthood to the innocence of the German people. Good people will die because of the bad, and that certainly...boils down in the finale.
Words: Liesel's greatest enemy and friend. She has to fight to learn words, and eventually wields them like a sword. However, the words of the Fuhrer are what inevitably kill all of her loved ones.
Impressions of the Book Thief: Cliches
Cliches exist to be broken, and this is a book that does that. Most books with adoptive parents turn them into sadistic "Scrappies", but both Hubermanns are painted as genuine people. Most books that delve into Nazi Germany focus on the tragedy of the Jews, but this one paints something a little bit more powerful: the tragedy of tragedy. It also fleshes out the power of love in all of its central characters. Hmm...
***FAVORITE LINE FROM THE BOOK:***
"She had become thirteen years of age. Her chest was still flat. She had not bled. The young man from the basement was now in her bed."
- Page 311
Learning to read.
Losing a brother.
Hiding a Jew.
About 1001 Stealing Scenarios
Air Raid Threats
An Ironic Bus Crash
A Depressing Ending I Dare Not Give Away
(Be prepared! We've got 550 pages to cover, and I already blabber.)
(Stolen from Funeral)
***A LAST NOTE FROM YOUR NARRATOR***
I am haunted by humans
(Stolen from Celebratory Fire)
(Delivered with Max)
(Stolen from Frau Hermann)
(Stolen from Frau Hermann)
("Stolen" from Frau Hermann)
(Stolen from Frau Hermann)
***USELESS, YET USEFUL TIDBIT***
Hitler's birthday is on 4/20
This book has stumped me as well as firmly infatuated me. I can easily recall what goes on in it, but the emotional lull of it manages to grasp me even more. It is easily the best I have read this semester because despite its bleakness, I feel more alive because of it.
Rudy is the spawn of the Jesse Owens incident: an event in Molching where he lathered himself in ashes and charcoal and pretended to be the racer in question.
Author: Markus Zusak
Important Plot Details and Realization
The Book Thief is an interesting book in, where most books usually run through a motif plot and stick to it, The Book Thief is a sequence of life events that to elaborate on would take about 5 more explanations to concisely tell. I will merely stick to examples of what one will find in the book, because frankly, if you haven't read it, I demand that you should.
The Book Thief is love. The Book Thief is life. No jokes. The Book Thief's layout is about as realistically as I've seen life written, and considering its disastrous setting, that's impressive.
Liesel's Brother and Mother: Ah, two characters that barely appear in the book. However, both hold lots of gravity to Liesel and a lot to her character throughout the book. Liesel's brother, Werner, dies on the train ride over to the Hubermanns, and is the spawn of many of Liesel's nightmares. The mother, Paula, is presumed an equally grim fate as a Communist. She gave away her two kids to save them from being taken by the German government as she was.
***HERE IS A SMALL FACT***
You are going to die.
THIS BOOK MAKES ME THINK
***A NOTE FROM TV TROPES 1***
DASHED PLOT LINE
A STORY COVERING A LONG TIME PERIOD THAT SKIPS TIME TO COVER MAJOR EVENTS
***A NOTE FROM TV TROPES 2***
A character that is wealthy, but amoral.
Viktor Chemmel, the replacement leader to Arthur.
***A NOTE FROM TV TROPES 3***
DIABOLUS EX MACHINA
"DEMON FROM THE MACHINE", AN EVENT THAT COMES OUT OF THE BLUE TO ENSURE SADNESS OR GRIEF FOR THE PROTAGONIST.
***ALSO, FOR REFERENCE***
Hitler: The Absolute Antagonist
Boy, we haven't heard that one before!
This book not only does well in making humanity exist in Nazi Germany, but it also does well in vilifying very few characters. That is, except the Fuhrer himself. What I find even more interesting though is the fact that the deaths of the Holocaust never show up in regards to him. Hitler is painted in a beautifully unique and diabolical depiction on one thing alone: his manipulation.
Impressions of The Book Thief: Genre
A good half of the reason I love this book is based on the genre it's lulled into. Pretty much any story that has characters grow up in it is an automatic read for me, and I wish to continue that interest into the future. Case in point...
The creation of the Nazi party: fear mongering
The disdain for Jews: fear mongering
Sucking the life out of their population: selfish, selfish fear mongering
We tend to forget who a person is when they're celebrated/hated for so long or so much, but I believe we've forgotten something very important about Hitler: he was pathetic.
***FOOD FOR THOUGHT***
That...honestly reminds me of Death himself. It makes me feel like Death is an allegory for life. Totally reading too much into this.