Book report: The Book Thief

Book Title: The Book Thief

Points to talk about will be: The books, the people, and the ending. I need to combine the personal, and story parts together. I also need to fix up the message, or at least present it better. And add quotations.

“The Book Thief”, by Markus Zusak, is about a little girl called Liesel Meminger, who lived during world war two in Germany. The entire story is narrated by Death, with its own points of view added in. For instance, The Files Of Recollection” “Oh yes, I definitely remember him. The sky was murky and deep, like quicksand. There was a young man parceled up in barbed wire, like a giant crown of thorns. I untangled him and carried him out. High above the earth, we sank together, to our knees. It was just another day, 1918”. To be more exact on the plot, it follows the time when Liesel Meminger lived in Himmel Street, and what happens in that time, like the stealing of some books, the discovery of a Jewish fist fighter, who would live in the basement, and other events. The book finishes when Liesel’s ‘normal’ life ends, with the death of nearly everyone she ever cared about or loved.

The message the book presents, from my point of view, is that humans are the creator of nearly all of our problems, and these problems have an effect on everything. Even Death admitted to being affected right at the end when it say’s “I am haunted by humans”. I also find that many problems I face normally, and the problems other face, are all caused by humans. My problems might not be as extreme as the one’s Liesel face; like having to do exams; but they are still problems caused by humans. Liesel’s everyday problems included starving to the point where an apple looked amazing; “Sitting on Rudy’s front step, they noticed Fritz Hammer—one of their older counterparts—eating an apple. It was of the Klar variety— ripening in July and August—and it looked magnificent in his hand.” Clear symptoms of starvation when apples look that great. This problem was caused by humans because a war is going on, which takes up the resources in a country at a massive rate, often leaving the people living in the country with less food to eat, among other things. Now that is just one of the many problems surrounding Liesel, not including the others like illiteracy and discrimination against Jews. All these problems were caused by humans, like the war, or an excuse to start a mass murder campaign. Now, there are 3 different ways I will show you how this book showed this message. They are: The books that were stolen, the people Liesel surrounded herself with, and the ending of the book; also how all these connect to me and our world.

The book thief stole books. That is how she got her name. Throughout the story she stole many books, the first of them being “The Grave digger’s Handbook”. Each book had its own meaning, and reason for being stolen. “The Grave Digger’s Handbook” was stolen when Liesel’s brother was buried. The assistant to the gravedigger was walking back, and the book fell out of his pocket. This book ended up symbolizing her brother, and his death, and also the last time she saw her mother. This book was also the first book she finished reading, and the one she learnt how to read from. I can sort of relate to this, in the way that I still remember the very first book I managed to fully read by myself. It was called “Are You My Mother?” by Dr. Seuss. Even though I have read hundreds of books at least since then, I still remember it. So I can definitely understand some of her feelings towards this book. Other books where also stolen, like “The Shoulder Shrug”, which she rescued from a book burning. It got the attention of the mayor’s wife, leading to Liesel going to the library that the mayor owned. That book represented what it meant to steal books, and the threat it could hold. And of course for a kid, this was a big deal; “Every minute, every hour, there was worry, or more to the point, paranoia. Criminal activity will do that to a person, especially a child.” Another point to this is the fact that the burning of these books represented the destruction of the past in Germany, and the creation of a new Nazi Germany. By stealing that book, she is deciding to keep a part of that past with her, which is similar to when she befriends Max. All the other books also have meaning, like “The Whistler”. She stole this one from the Mayor’s Library, to get rid of the guilt she was feeling, and to get back at the wife of the mayor, for the crimes she imagined them doing. However, even though every book she stole had its own meaning, and played into her life in an important way, those first two books have to be the most important. One symbolizing her brother’s death, the disappearance of her mother, and the wonderful world of books; while the other represents the art of stealing, the disagreement with the Nazi party, and hatred towards Adolf Hitler.This is what the message of the book is, that humans cause all our problems. Those being: The death of Liesel’s brother in the cold train; the book burning happening because of Hitlers birthday; and the mayor running out of money to have others wash their clothes. All these problems were caused by humans; the meaning behind the books for Liesel were caused by these problems. The problems humans cause have many effects on the world, some good, some bad. And for these books, they had a generally bad meaning.

The people in Liesel’s life each did their own things, and had their own meaning to her, as it is with people.
The meaning and impact each of these people had on Liesel is huge. Her brother was her family, somebody she loved. With his death, it nearly broke Liesel’s mind, and ruined her forever. Then her mother, who abandoned/ left her at the Hubermann’s. With that, keeping in mind she is still quite young, would think that all of her family is gone and stopped caring about her. Good luck trying to convince her to stay sane. Which is where Han’s came in, and did the amazing thing of keeping her sane, and introducing her to what a family can be like, and how wonderful books are. So, a lot of stuff was done by Han, and Han meant quite a bit to Liesel. “Papa—the accordionist—and Himmel Street. One could not exist without the other, because for Liesel, both were home. Yes, that’s what Hans Hubermann was for Liesel Meminger.” Then of course there is Rosa, who was constantly mean to everyone, and still managed to get Liesel to love her as a mother, and we all know how important it is to have a mother(If you don’t, then you had a sad childhood. Or someone else as a mother figure.). Rudy too, was an important person, who was the first friend she had. When a person gets a friend, they get someone they can talk to, someone they can be more “them-self” with. And Rudy was that person for Liesel. He was also the first love interest, someone she often thought about. “She would lie in bed, missing Max, wondering where he was, praying that he was alive, but somewhere, standing among all of it, was Rudy.” Then there was Max, which as said before, was the Jew in the household. Another term for him would be the member of the family who everyone liked and wanted to be around. He was that important to Liesel. And even though he left, she never stopped hoping he would live; “Liesel? Do you think he’s alive?”…”I hope so, Papa.” All this relates to us, the reader in the way that we each have a person like this in our lives. Han’s, the kind father/father figure. Rosa, the mother/mother figure. The brother and mother, being your siblings and family. Rudy, the friend you should have. And Max, the person you care about and always talk to, about anything. Basically, the people in your life and the people in Liesel’s story are similar in the way that we all have someone like that. But once again, humanity caused some problems. Han’s was made to go to war, Rudy was forced to go to a special school, Max had to leave for the safety of the Hubermanns, her brother and mother both either died or left; basically, she lost everyone due to the problems caused by humans. And I haven’t even begun the ending of the book yet.

The ending of the book was best described as “Rudy Steiner slept. Mama and Papa slept. Frau Holtzapfel, Frau Diller. Tommy Müller. All sleeping. All dying.” At the end of the book we first get to see nearly everyone who Liesel had left die. Then we got to see her mourn over them, and a bit about how life continued on afterwards for her. The death of everyone was sudden and shocking. No one was expecting it, and I even heard one person talking about how they were expecting Liesel to do something big, like the story was building up to it. Basically, everyone died, and the buildup was ‘destroyed’, which caused many people to disagree, and even dislike the ending. However, keep in mind that death never kept the ending a secret. From the very beginning, it mentioned how everyone died: “Within minutes, mounds of concrete and earth were stacked and piled. The streets were ruptured veins. Blood streamed till it was dried on the road, and the bodies were stuck there, like driftwood after the flood.” Clearly, everyone died, and yet people complained that it ruined the book? In fact, this ending gives the book even more meaning, which is that it shows how suddenly death can arise, and how terrible it was to live in WW2. If a different ending had occurred, like if everyone lived happily ever after, then how is this message supposed to get passed on? How would the book end? It can’t be a cheesy ending like she steals some important book, as she is just a little girl; so how else does the book end? The ending tied off any loose ends, set up the future of the main character and everyone around her, and helped out the main message of the book. It also made sense story wise, and was always going to happen. Yes, it was sad, but it was a good ending nonetheless.

“The Book Thief”, by Markus Zusak, was a rather good book. It taught me how many problems are caused by humans, and that no matter what you do, these problems will affect you. The book had a few different methods to show this to the reader, like having Death be the narrator, and every now and then mentioning yet another death. Or Liesel and her often happy, but still terribly sad childhood, which is filled with death and fear. This book relates to our world through many different means, but I suppose the main one will be that the war really did happen. And as there are so many humans who went through that war, and many others, their are bound to be someone with a similar story. And really, the fact that can happen is truly sad, and quite regrettable. But once again, it would all be humanity’s fault. War would not happen if all humans were peaceful. But as there will always be that one person who wants what that other guy has, problems will occur, sometimes as a small fight, and sometimes becoming a war.
This book was an amazing one, probably one of the better books I have read for the past year or so. I would recommend it to anyone who not only wants to learn a bit about how it would of been in Nazi Germany, but also for those who want a new perspective on death, and how the world really is.
Finally, thanks for reading, and make sure to read “The Book Thief” at some point!

 

2 Comments

  1. Logan, there are a number of intriguing points made about the text here, however you need to STRUCTURE your response more effectively. I.e. Decide what aspects of the book you will discuss (I would like you to list these at the top of your response for now). Then use the work you have done to DISCUSS each of these points. When you go “off topic” away from your point, bring yourself back in your discussion.
    * Your PERSONAL REFLECTIONS are good, however these need to be clearly a part of your points.
    * You will also need additional QUOTATIONS to support your ideas.
    * Please speak with me if you have questions 🙂

    Reply

  2. From our discussion today
    Logan – problems caused by humans could include: hunger/poverty, little teaching material or people that didn’t know how to read or read well, treatment of Jewish-Germans.
    Mrs Waide – Please add quotations for the examples from the text.

    Reply

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