1.During the prologue, we get Death, just a chapter full of Death. Well, to be exact, we see Death talking about his job, and how he treats it. Then we see him talk about Liesel in the 3 situations he sees her in. Each of these situations has a colour attributed to it. “When I recollect her, I see a long list of colours, but it’s the three in which I saw her in the flesh that resonate the most…Red, white, black. They fall on top of each other. The scribbled signature black, onto the blinding global white, onto the thick soupy red.”
The colour white was the colour of the snow white sky at the time Liesel’s brother died. “Yes it was white. It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Like it had pulled it on, the way you pull on a sweater.” This colour was a major part of the book. Why? Because her brothers death affected her always. She never forgot, and neither did Death. And for Death, it was the colour of the snow white sky that he remembered. And so this colour of white became the colour of grief, making everyone remember their own sad memory’s when they see the colour.
The next colour was black, the sky was black at the time, an eclipse had occured at the next death, and there was smoke everywhere from the plane crashing “As with many others, when I began my journey away, there seemed a quick shadow again, a final moment of eclipse – the recognition of another soul gone.” The colour black symbolizes many things, but in general for this book, it will be referring to death and fear, and in the book, the main portrayer of this is the Nazi’s. Everytime the colour black was used, there was fear, or hatred, or death. Basically, the colour black isn’t a good colour to have around.
And the final colour is red:
“The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked amongst the redness.” The colour red represents the destruction of everything. This quote, for example, is at the time when Himmel street was bombed. And there are other examples, like the book burning. “To their left, flames and burning books were cheered like heroes.” Whenever the colour red comes up, so does destruction. The destruction of many lives through the bombing of Himmel Street, and the destruction of the past of Germany through the book burning. This destruction never stops, and neither does the colour red. “The blood enlarged on Ludwig Schmeikl’s ankle.” Every now and then, like with the last quote about bleeding, there was danger, and the colour of red. To finish this off, and as you can surely tell by now, the colour red in “The Book Thief” stands for destruction, through burning, through bombing, and even through bleeding.
2.“When I recollect her, I see a long list of colours, but it’s the three in which I saw her in the flesh that resonate the most…Red, white, black. They fall on top of each other. The scribbled signature black, onto the blinding global white, onto the thick soupy red.” This is the image of the Nazi flag. Why does this have anything to do with Liesel, who hated the Nazi’s? Well, you see, I have made this point before. It is that all our problems are caused by humans. And in this case, every single problem Liesel ever encounters is because of the Nazi’s. “‘You think you’re the only one, Saukerl?’ She turned away. ‘And you only lost your father…’… Her mother. Her brother. Max Vandenburg. Hans Hubermann. All of them gone. And she’d never even had a real father.” All these people, gone from her life, was caused by the Germans. And we haven’t even reached the ending yet… In any case, she has a lot to do with the Nazi’s, and their flag can be used to represent her young life quite well. The scribbled black, symbolizing all that fear, hatred, and death. The blinding global white, representing all her grief and sadness. And the thick, soupy red, representing the destruction of everything she knows. Her life was first caused and made by what the Nazi’s did, and so their symbol will of course be able to be used to describe her.
3.So far, I should of only been talking about what happened inside the prolog, but to be honest, you can never accurately describe each colour with only that, much as “A single hour can consist of thousands of different colours.”, each colour has symbolic meanings that are far deeper than just her brothers death, or blood washing down the street. You can’t forget the book burning, which represents the destruction of the past of Germany, and the creation of a new Germany. You also can’t forget Max, and all that time he spent in the darkness of the basement, within his own dark thoughts. And then there is the white women in the white bathrobe, being the literal representation of grief and sadness.
Each one of these points is important, as are many others throughout the text.They can all be pulled back out, and allow us to see the world in a different light to our current one, and also show us how Death views the world, through some assumptions on his power.
First is the colour white. “She stepped aside and motioned with her chalky hand and wrist for the girl to enter.” There was plenty of grief and sadness within “The Book Thief”, and each time this person was described with a colour to represent this. For instance, the mayor’s wife, who at all times is described as white, to the point where a random off handed comment describes her as ‘chalky’, aka, white. And we all know that the mayor’s wife is grieving, constantly trying to convince herself that her son only froze to death(Which death revealed he didn’t). Then she starts trying to freeze herself as a form of catharsis. Her entire life resolved around her sadness, and the colour white was used in all cases to describe her. The colour white, just from the mayor’s wife’s sadness, is shown to mean grief and sadness. Then the even sadder thing is how this entire book is trying to describe world war 2. World war 2 really happened, with many, many people dying. And so, it is a given that somewhere out there, at least one person did this to themselves, most likely more. So when I read “The Book Thief”, I end up thinking about all those people out there in similar positions, and the fact that anyone had to ever go through that in the first place.
So all that and far more is described by the colour white.(Did I mention that Max was always described as pale? Clearly, he would be sad, and always suffering from nightmares, but I didn’t mention him because the colour black far better reflects him.)
“Dark. Nothing but dark now. Just basement. Just jew.” Max Vandenburg is a jew, who ‘abandoned'(He thinks he did, but his family was pretty much making him leave) his family, and came to live in the Hubermanns basement. And sure, the Hubermanns are quite nice people, they kept Max alive in their basement for years, having fun with him, feeding him, reading with him, describing the weather to him, worrying about him dying or living, all good things good people do. However, this doesn’t change the fact that he was in a basement. It was dark in that basement. He had nearly nothing to do. Only counting the days until the war ends, or he dies. This generated hatred really quickly. And this hatred was pointed at Adolf Hitler, who he imgagined getting into fistfights with. And of course there was fear. Why wouldn’t there be? There was the fear of being abandoned, the fear of dragging down the Hubermanns with him, fear of the Nazi’s, and fear