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The Book Thief
Transcript of The Book Thief
The Book Thief
The setting is poor, fearful, and Death is always lurking around the corner. However, the irony of Himmel Street meaning heaven, is essential to the setting.
Many businesses lost their customers or shut down completely starting around the late 1930's. Many of the owners' customers were Jews but once Hitler's power continued to grow, Jews went into hiding and or were enslaved. Resulting in businesses having to suffer. People such as, Hans Hubermann and his family, did help their Jewish friend, Max by hiding him in their basement. But with the Nazis watching their every move there was no room for mistakes; people had to be cautious of whom they trust. As the war continued to grow Death became more busier with Munich, Germany than ever before and with the people Liesel loved. Although, Germany was a place of extreme paranoia and anxiety, it also had its times when the meaning of Himmel Street was proven. With the simple acts of kindness from the Hubermann family to their Jewish friend, Max. And when Rudy Steiner and Leisel Meminger secretly gave bread to the prison camp that held Jews that walked from Molching to Dachau. Himmel Street surely did have its own heavenly ways, which was shown through the citizens.
Hans & Rosa
Hans Hubermann: Hans is married to Rosa and Liesel's foster father. He taught Liesel how to read and write. Hans has silvery-grey eyes and is tall. He works as a painter and plays the accordion. Hans is described by Death as "lucky" for cheating him twice--in World War I & II. His life was saved by a Jew, henceforth, Hans disagrees with the Nazi party but was forced to join the Nazis anyway.
Rosa Hubermann: Liesel's foster mother, usually aggravates everyone around her and has a heart for using profanity especially with the people she loves. She is short, with a shriveled face and has browny-grey hair that is generally pulled back into a bun. She does washing and ironing for five of the wealthiest homes in Molching to support the household but she slowly loses her customers one by one. Rosa and Hans have two children Hans Jr. and Trudy. Rosa and Hans were both killed by the air raids on Himmel Street.
by Markus Zusak
Intro to the Author & Novel
Markus Zusak is an Australian author that received many awards; one of which being a Michael L. Printz Honor Book award. He is most known for the books I Am the Messenger published in 2002 and The Book Thief released in 2006. The ideas and thoughts of The Book Thief started to form while Zusak was writing The Messenger. According to Zusak, "I also hope that readers of any age will see another side of Nazi Germany[...]. Those were the pockets I was interested in".
Liesel and Werner Meminger is sent to live with the Hubermanns in the late 1930's. Werner (her brother) dies on the train and is buried, while attending the funeral Liesel steals her first book to remember him (despite her illiteracy). Which is when the narrator, Death, explains to have its first glance at Liesel. At first Liesel finds it hard to adjust to her new life on Himmel Street and her new family. As Adolf Hitler's, (often referred to as the Fuher) power and reign continued to grow and exceed. But soon she adapts to the poor life on Himmel Street, gets use to her excessively different foster parents and befriends a boy named Rudy Steiner, who also becomes her partner in crime. The Book Thief is between 1939-1943 and is divided into 10 parts, all explaining Liesel Meminger's life taking place mostly while in Molching, Germany, near Munich. Liesel finds the only way to escape her problems is by reading and book stealing.
Main Characters: Liesel
Liesel Meminger: The protagonist of the story also known as The Book Thief; is sent to live with the Hubermanns in the late 1930's to escape her parents communists past. On the train ride there her brother Werner dies, she is abandoned by her parents and while attending the funeral she steals her first book. Opening a whole new world for Liesel. This is also the first time the narrator, Death meets with the protagonist. Traumatized by her brother's death and her abandonment, her illiteracy forces her and Hans Hubermann (her foster father) to become very close. She finds the only way to escape her brother's death and her abandonment is by reading and writing. On the other hand Rosa Hubermann, her aggravating foster mother, takes Liesel under her wing by making her help with the washing and ironing. Liesel becomes best friends with Rudy Steiner (who also gives her the name Book Thief) and they become partners in crime. She becomes very fond of the mayor's wife who allows her to not only read but steal books from her own library. And she became very close to Max, a Jewish fist-fighter that they hid in their basement away from the Nazis. She lives through World War II and the Holocaust; while many people that she loved perished as the result of air raids. She didn't officially meet Death until she was married with grandchildren.
Main Characters: Rudy & Max
Rudy Steiner: Is described as the German ideal-- having lemon-colored hair and blue eyes. He is an extremely intelligent student and a gifted athlete. He has 6 siblings, therefore, he is "always hungry". He befriended Liesel. They became thieves of farms, along with the mayor's wife's library. He also fell in love with Liesel-- asking for a kiss and doing things to deserve it (but fails everytime). Until he died lying in the street because of the Himmel Street bombing. She then granted his wish.
Max Vandenberg: Is a Jewish fistfighter and the son of Eric Vandenberg. He is charactized to have feathery hair and dark-brown eyes. Once the reign of Hitler starts to begin he must go to the Hubermann's for help. Max was kept in the Hubermann's basement and became very close to Liesel. And he wrote her two short stories about his and her life. He had to leave the Hubermann's home, do to Han's mistake with Dachau's camp. Which led to him being caught and dragged off to prison camp in Dachau. But he survived the camp and once the war was over he reunited with Liesel.
Main Charaters: Ilsa & Holtzapfel
Ilsa Hermann: She is the mayor's wife and characterized as having fluffy hair and likes her bathrobes. She lives on 8 Grande Strasse. She was one of Rosa Hubermann's customers until the economy forced the mayor to fire her. She constantly mourns over her dead son, Johann Hermann. Ilsa witnessed Liesel steal her second book from the bonfire. Ilsa allowed Liesel to read, borrow, and "steal" from her library. Ilsa adopts Liesel after the air raids on Himmel Street.
Frau Holtzapfel: She has an old fued with the Hubermanns therefore she spits on the door but they don't even remember the reason for the hatred. She had 2 sons--one of which died in war and the other committed suicide 6 months later. Liesel starts to read to Holtzapfel a few days out the week and in return she stops spitting and gives her coffee. Holtzapfel perishes in the Himmel Street bombing as well.
Main Characters: Death
Death: The narrator, Death describes itself to have human like feelings and physical characteristics as well. "I do not carry a sickle or scythe. I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold. And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance" (Zusak 307). Death is observant of the sky and humans, inwhich he also sympathizes for. Later stating, "It kills me sometimes, how people die" (Zusak 464). He first has his own encounter with the protagonist, Liesel, at her brother's funeral. But he doesnt return The Book Thief to her until she is an old woman with her soul in his hands. Finally stating "I am haunted by humans" (Zusak 550).
Why People Need To Read This Book?
1. Point of View: The Book Thief offers and proves a different perspective of Nazi Germany than what people already think, know or expect. Because the book exhibits people that did hide Jews at the risk of their own lives. According to Zusak, "I wanted them to see people who were unwilling to fly the Nazi flag [...]" (Zusak 9).
2. Experiences: Many noble and poor families that did or didn't believe or support Hitler lost family, friends, and their businesses. And were traumatized by the lost of so many valuable things in their lives. There was much poverty in Nazi, Germany and as the war went on, the struggle became less bearable. But,"Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness" (Zusak 84).
3. Characters: Unforgettable. The relationaships that grew between families and friends = strength. The bonds between the ones that needed help the most and the ones that were willing to give it (even at certain risks) showed courage to oppose Hitler. Although, others might see opposing Hitler as an act of being a "coward" (Zusak 105).
4. Education: Liesel steals a book before she can even read it. But Max, her Jewish companion battles Hitler in his nightmares and Hitler's words defeat him everytime. Zusak suggests, "I just [...] realized the importance of words in Nazi, Germany" (Zusak 9). Therefore, words can make people do almost anything a person want and believe.
5. Theme: Markus Zusak set abandonment to be the central theme of the book. Liesel feels abandon by her mother and father and by the death of her brother. Liesel also has to find a way to grapple with the harsh times of Hans, Max, and Alex Steiner (Rudy's father) being absent temporarily do to the war. But they find there way back to Liesel and she no longer feels that abandonment but instead love. And she trusts that shes never alone.
The Book Thief relates to the "Human Experience" by sharing humankind's international themes. Humanities explains that all over the world people experience collectively over time ideas, emotions, values, strengths and weaknesses. The "Human Experience" portrayed in The Book Thief allowed the characters, such as, Liesel and Rosa, who's relationship struggled throughtout the story, began to strengthen. Also helping those segregated by brutal laws put in place (Jews) created a strong bond bringing people together. Along with those people who valued what they had but the war destroyed it. But the war did cause many weaknesses in Nazi, Germany. Such as, owners losing there businessses because of the economy. The emotions of love, trust, guilt, shame, and of course abandonment, are what Zusak portrayed in The Book Thief as the central and main themes. Which are emotions humans experience and can relate to as a unity. Now and forever.
In conlusion, Liesel Meminger life is changed by one single action. Book thievery. Her and her new family: the Hubermann's, bestfriend: Rudy, and her Jewish companion: Max all showed altruism in their own way. As they struggled to survive Hitler's reign. They kept one important key factor with them along their journey, they remembered they would always have each other.