Essay: The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Analyse how language features revealed the writer’s purpose in the written text(s).

Books define our lives. The words we read not only shape our understanding of the world but also challenge us to change it. In “The Book Thief” Markus Zusak presents a series of significant books that not only reveal the maturing character of Liesel Meminger but also give valuable insight into what is happening in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, early 1940’s. Through the texts “The Gravedigger’s Handbook, the shoulder shrug, The Dream Carrier,  The Stand over man and A song in the dark  we as the reader are challenged to understand that Liesel is a victim of poverty, illiteracy and war, and she cannot escape these factors.

We first see the Gravediggers Handbook at Liesels brother Werner’s funeral when the funeral caretaker dropped it after Werner got buried. “There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow, only the girl saw it. she bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. the book had silver writing on it”. The symbolism represented in this scenario is death coming as a form of a book: “The Gravediggers Handbook.” Death began to have a strong interest into Liesel and started to follow her life as soon as she grabbed “The Gravediggers handbook.” Liesel also witnessed and saw death when Werner died on that train in front of her eyes. Markus Zusak the author of the Book Thief represented in this text. “The Gravediggers Handbook” the start of Liesel’s journey of learning how to read. The Gravediggers handbook was the book that got Liesel inspired to learn how to read and was the first book that she read “There was no books in the house, apart for the one she secreted under her mattress.” This was only possible by the help of Hans Hubermann.  “The point is it didn’t really matter what the book was about. it was more what it meant that was more important.”

Markus Zusak introduces “The Shoulder Shrug” very well as it represents firstly  the symbolism of Lisa Hermann (the mayors wife) as Liesel first found the text after a Nazi burning. This is where the Nazis would burn the books of Germany’s “embarrassing” history and all texts that relate to anything Jewish or a Germany failure. Liesel saw that there was a books that didn’t burn, she picks up the shoulder shrug after this “occasion” which at the time if someone caught you doing an act like this it would be considered a act of “treason” which someone did. The mayors wife. Lisa Hermann. Instead of Lisa thinking of Liesel as a rebellious child she thinks of a kid who loves reading. Lisa is a sympathetic figure in this text she invites Liesel to her own home to pick a book at her choosing. Lisa does this because she cares for a child that has her own belief she just wants to enjoy her life with people that she loves doing what she loves. Reading.  we learn that Lisa is in mourning for the son she lost some twenty-odd years earlier in an accident involving barbed wire and freezing temperatures. This could be the main factor over why Lisa Hermann becomes such a important character to Liesel in the text. From “The Shoulder Shrug” we can also see a representation of Liesel’s rebellion against the Nazis and Hitler as from the Nazi book burning, the Nazis are trying burn the world of history, words and ideas that the Nazi don’t agree with. This shows Liesels rebellion as it shows that she doesn’t care that the Nazis wouldn’t advice what she did by grabbing the shoulder shrug from the fire. From the world we live in now we can see a cross reference from The shoulder Shrugs symbolism to Anne Franks diary which was wrote at the same time as World War Two. The symbolism shows that history is never forgotten. We see that from what the Nazis did by burning those books that have words and ideas in them that the Nazis wanted to rid the world of. However from all of them doing this they actually made their history worst by doing this and creating more books like Anne Franks diary that gives a way worst reputation than whatever books that they had before that they burnt.

“The Dream Carrier” is a personal favorite of mine from the text The Book Thief. Markus Zusak represented symbolism for the dream carrier perfectly. The first bit of symbolism that The Dream carrier has in the text is the very literal title of the book towards what was happening in the book thief. Max Vandenburg was nearly dying of the cold in a coma. Liesel being Max’s Dream carrier as she was the one that was always there for him using all she knew to try and make him feel better, prayer, gift-giving and reading to him while he was “asleep.”. Carrying his dreams so he can wake. This book “The Dream carrier also represents the friendship Liesel and Max has. Liesel thinks of him as her own older decreased brother this also shows that Liesel hasn’t forgotten her roots with her previous brother Werner. The Dream Carrier is about  “an abandoned child who wants to be a priest” This is a big reference towards Max as in this scenario in the beginning of World War Two Jews in Europe are being hunted like ducks by the Nazis. From this we can see in a way in this case is a “abandoned child” hiding in a basement and all he wants to be is a priest or in his situation all he wants to do is see the outside and live life which everyone should deserve. Liesel refused for him to die. she couldn’t have another family member die in front of her like Werner. Liesel refused to go through that nightmare again.

The books of The Book Thief showed us the maturing character of Liesel Meminger but also gave us a valuable insight into what is happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, early 1940’s. World War Two. Liesel a victim of poverty after her brother dying in front of her own eyes and her mother having to leave her for the Hubermann’s. We learned that the first text that Liesel found at her brother Werner’s funereal. the Gravediggers handbook was the first book she read and became her inspiration to learn and keep reading. The Shoulder Shrug was a symbolism of Liesels hatred and rebellion against the Nazis and Hitler. This was shown from the fact she stole the book from Nazi book burning where they would burn the books of Germany’s “embarrassing” history and all texts that relate to anything Jewish or a Germany failure. The Dream Carrier was one of the many books that Liesel stole from Lisa Hermann and this book showed the symbolism of the friendship of Liesel and Max. In this scenario it almost seemed Liesel when she would read The Dream Carrier to him she was i a way carrying his dreams for him to wake.

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