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Coming of Age: The Book Thief
Transcript of Coming of Age: The Book Thief
By: Elijah Smith
The Book Thief Summary
The Book Thief is a story about a young child named Liesel who is living through the rise of the Nazis. In the beginning Liesel is on a train, traveling to meet her foster parents. She is traveling with her mother and her younger brother. The narrator of the story, Death, suddenly takes Liesel's brother's life and he is soon buried. Liesel makes it to her foster parent's home and she soon takes a liking to her new father Hans. She also quickly makes friends with her neighbor Rudy who is her main love interest in the story. When Hans finds out Liesel is illiterate he teaches her the alphabet and how to read. The town of Molching holds a book burning ceremony to celebrate Hitler's birthday in which Liesel steals her second book (The first one was stolen from the undertaker at her brother's funeral). When Liesel begins delivering laundry to the mayor's wife, Ilsa, she is allowed to read in her library and soon takes advantage of this. Next a German Jew named Max who is also a friend of Hans flees from his German town to escape persicution. While hiding in Hans' basement Max and Liesel become friends. When Liesel stops delivering laundry to the Hermanns she becomes frustrated with the lack of books so she steals theirs. During the winter Liesel and her family play with snow in their basement this makes Max sick and brings him to the brink of death. Also Nazis almost find him when their house gets checked. While on the brink of World War 2 bombs get dropped close to their town and while the towns people take shelter in a makeshift bob shelter. To calm the people Liesel reads to them. While trying to help a Jewish man Hans gets in trouble with a Nazi soldier. This draws suspicion to the family so Max leaves. Later Hans and Rudy's father are drafted into the military. Although Hans soon comes back, Max is sent to a concentration camp. In the end when Liesel is writing in the diary given to her by Ilsa she survives a bombing when her mother, father, and best friend don't. Liesel goes to live with the mayor but soon reunites with Max who was freed. Death ends on a note that he is "Haunted by humans".
I felt like this book did a good job of showing the themes of death's affect on people and the maturation of Liesel throughout the book. Some examples of Liesel coming of age are her finally accepting her brother's death after the nightmares finally stop, when she learned how to read, and she moved on with her life after the deaths of her loved ones. Also the novel had the constant theme that death was always lurking around the corner. In my opinion this went along perfectly with the setting which was a world on the verge of a World War and the Holocaust which brought on the deaths of many people
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Book Thief connects to To Kill a Mockingbird by the main character realizing their ignorance and maturing through gained knowledge. Both Scout and Liesel were ignorant to the political and social unrest that was going on within their societies. For example Scout did not realize how her racist remarks and actions effected other people. She was just going along with what the other people of Maycomb County did and said. Also Scout picked up the habit of cursing and using foul language from school. Scout did not realize that doing these things was wrong. It was only through Atticus' teachings that Scout gained the knowledge that her actions and word choice had consequences. This is one of the ways Scout came of age and matured. Liesel is put in a similar situation. She is unknowing of the true motives of the Nazis. She believes that since her father does not have a public disagreement with Nazi views that there is nothing wrong with them. She grows to resent Hitler after the book burning, after learning about the persacution of Jews which includes her friend Max, and when she agrees with Rudy that they want to kill Hitler. Like Scout she realizes what was going on was wrong and she develops her own views. This is a sign from both girls of coming of age and maturation through knowledge over ignorance.
The Day of the Last Rock Fight
The Book Thief connects to The Day of the Last Rock Fight by the main character overcoming his emotional problems and obstacles. The characters mature by learning to let go of the past. For example Ronnie was hurt so badly by Peter killing Gene and then Peter killing himself that he had to be put inside a school for troubled boys. But he matures by sending his father a letter telling him how the murder went down and saying that he is ready to come home. This is similar to Liesel finally getting rid of nightmares about her brother's death. Through Max and Liesel exchanging nightmare this helped ease the suffering the nightmares caused and they gradually went away.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Sympathy
Liesel can be seen as the caged bird because she is always haunted and overshadowed by the possible death or loss of her loved ones. This is the reason why Liesel is caged because with these feelings always in the back of her mind she can never achieve full freedom or bliss. For example before she goes to sleep at night she worried about the fate of Hans and Rudy's father in the war, Rosa's mental stability, and if Max would survive the concentration camp. At one point in the story she even lost everyone she loved because Rudy, Rosa, and Hans all died and Max was still missing. Like the caged bird she hopes that everyone will be alright (her freedom) but that is not the outcome (the reason why she is still caged).
The Book Thief connects to The Bet because they both have a similar theme that relates to coming of age which is your greatest desires may not be what you actually want. For example the young banker at first wanted money from winning the bet and to prove everyone else wrong because he knew that he could survive solitary confinement for 15 years then he realilized that he did not want the money and it is not worth his time spent imprisoned. Liesel experiences something similar. At first her greatest desire is to learn to read and write and to do better in school. But as she matures like the young banker she figures out that she only wants the safety of her loved ones. She always wishes well to Hans and Max and secretly loves Rudy and her mother.