The significance of books: “The Book Thief”

“The Gravedigger’s Handbook” is a rather important book to Liesel. Why? It represents many different things to Liesel.
First: Liesel’s brother died when she was 9, nearly 10. To remember this moment in time, the moment when her brother died, she wanted to keep something with her. And the item was…”The Gravedigger’s Handbook”. The book represents the memory’s she has of her brother.
Second: Her mother left her after this. And because of this, she will want to remember her mother in some way. And so, she decides to have “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” be her memory of her mother who left her as well.
Third: So now the book represents her dead brother who she will never forget as she always has visions of him, and also the last time she sees her mother. All this can be described as “Family!” The book represents her family, that she will never truly see again! She even goes so far as to hide a picture of her dead brother in the book too! And if your not sad yet, you will be when you realise the name of the book is “The Gravedigger’s Handbook”. It is literally a handbook to help bury the dead, and her family is represented by it. What the author might be trying to get at is how Liesel wants to bury her memories of her family away from her daily life, in a place no one else ever has to see them. So it represents her family and how she wants to bury her memories of them.
Fourth: Remember how Liesel can’t read yet? Well, lucky us, the book gets a new meaning when Hans uses it to teach Liesel how to read. Yep, she couldn’t read yet she had already connected so many things to the book, and then asked Hans to teach her how to read with “The Gravedigger’s Handbook”. And so the memories she would want to bury stay forever present whenever she reads.
Fifth: I guess I should also include the time she was supposed to read out loud to her class, but got nervous and found herself unable to read, so she just used some memorised paragraph from “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” and recited them. This ended up leading to the first time she beat someone up. So, I guess it could connect to that in some way?
In any case, “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” represents the death of Liesel’s brother, the last time she saw her mother, the burying of her family’s memories, what Hans used to teach her how to read, and a small connection to her first fight in school.

“The shoulder shrug” is another rather important book to Liesel. The reasons are below:
First: University students back in Germany had decided to start a book burning. This book burning’s purpose is to remove the past of germany, and begin a new history for germany. All things that were even slightly Jewish, or from another country, had to be burned. Anything that didn’t follow the values they wanted there new germany to follow must be burned. So, you know, massive amounts of books are being burned, and you can’t exactly do anything to stop them, since literally all of Germany was into this mass destruction of books. And you know what Liesel did? She stole a book that survived this fire. From right under the pile of ash. And just from that, the reader will know, Liesel doesn’t want this knowledge destroyed. She wants to read, and learn, and there is no way that she is letting this book get past her. And this signifies how she doesn’t want the destruction of Germany’s past; the history being burned will be saved by her, at least a bit of it.
Second: And just so you know, she knew the dangers. For ages afterwards she was scared of how she might get ‘taken away’, or her family might be ‘taken away’. Why? Because 1: Frau Hermann, the mayors wife, saw her steal the book. And if she decides to mention it to the police, then her and her family is doomed. 2: As she knew the dangers behind taking the book, of course she would be scared. Even if Frau Hermann decided not to turn her in, if anyone else saw, then she is doomed. 3: She stole a book and there is danger in that. This is the first time she properly stole a book, and so the first time she can feel the fear behind stealing something. “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” was taken in a far away place, from someone she will never see again. So why be scared of that? But “The Shoulder Shrug” is different in the way that it was done in the same place she lives, so if anyone saw, they can do something about it. And so this book represents what it means to steal a book.
Third: Well, besides the small part in stopping the destruction of Germany’s past, and the idea of stealing a book, there is also Frau Hermann. What I mean is that “The Shoulder Shrug” being stolen got her noticed by Frau Hermann, which ended up getting her into Frau Hermann’s library. Yes, that’s right, she sees a library! Isn’t this fantastic for her! Which is why this is important. This book got her connected to a library, and the next books she shall steal, which will be spoken about soon.
So basically, “The Shoulder Shrug” represents to Liesel: The saving of Germany’s history from complete destruction; the idea of what it is like to steal a book; and Frau Hermann’s library and all the books in that.

“The standover man” was the first book that Max gave to Liesel. So, it was a rather important book, that was full of different ideas and meanings, and of course, represented a lot to Liesel.
First: Max spent a week in the basement painting over the Mein Kampf books pages. The entire time it was kept secret from Liesel. The reason he did all this was because he wanted to give Liesel a gift in return for all she has done for him. And what better way to do this than to use the pages from the book that had literally saved his life(Fake papers where hidden in it, while it also got officers thinking it was legit as they were in the most famous book in the country, written by their leader).
Second: The book was 13 pages long. It followed the life of Max, and his standover-man. A standover-man being someone standing above you when you are down. As so, we see multiple different standover-men, like his father(He thinks this is so, apparently he disappeared quite quickly), or the people he used to fight when they won and he lost. Then there was that one page that talked about the first basement he hid in, and the friend that was always standing over him. And then the final standover-man, who wasn’t even a man, but a little girl called Liesel.
Third: Each of these standover-men had their own meaning in Max’s life, as each one covered massive amounts of his life. Like his father. He imagines that his father must of once been there in his life, looking down on him. But as he left before Max started forming memories, he would never know. And so in his childhood, and all the way to adulthood, we know he never had a father, which, now that I think about it, is the same as Liesel. Basically, a 13 page book with 13 different meanings and concepts that connect to Max’s life, and an important part in Liesel’s life.
Fourth: So some of you might be wondering why I am putting most of these meanings to Max’s life, and not Liesels. Well, that is because you can use this book to reflect a large part of Liesel’s life. One of the pages even talks about this, how the two of them are so similar. The dreams that they each have, the fact that they both came to Himmel street on a train, and then there is the fighting that they both do. And now that I noticed that there is the fact that both of them never knew their father, and their mother and siblings are long gone, I realised they have another connection in the way that their family is gone. But they both now have Rosa and Hans who took them in and is keeping them alive. Oh, but their is still a difference, which is that Liesel said Max looks like something else, which he always found odd. Oh, and the fact that the book always made sure to say “a german and a jew” and not just “these two normal people”.
So yeah, this book represents many things to Max and Liesel; like how the book that saved Max’s life was used to make it; the many standover-men in Max’s life; the meaning each one held to; and how Lisesl is so similar to him in both life and mind, but still different in race. Honestly, the meaning behind this one book is quite impressive, but it contains to much for me to include it all here. Suffice to say, every page denotes years, and the pages with Liesel denotes an importance in Max’s life that will span years ahead.

“Mein Kampf”- Hitler’s published philosophy, Max’s camouflage traveling to Molching, and the pages used for “The Standover Man”. How was it represented within “The Book Thief”.
First: This is the book all Nazies must read. The reason being that it was written by their leader, and the book itself contains all of Adolf Hitler’s ideals in life, and what he hoped to get from Germany. And so when Han’s son said to Liesel that she should read the book, then you knew exactly where he stood, which is with the Naies.



“The Dream Carrier” – The text Liesel steals from Frau Hermann’s library.

“A song in the dark” – The text Liesel steals from Frau Hermann’s library.

“The Word giver” – Another gift from Max to Liesel.

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