Liesel Meminger in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief experiences abandonment and loss on a grand scale. Death takes a personal interest in this young waif’s plight. As a result Liesel deals with her issues at first by stealing books and other small items. After she learns to read, Liesel reads to others…
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In the beginning of the story Liesel, her mother, and brother are travelling to Molching, Germany on a train. Liesel’s brother dies on route causing the family to stop and bury her younger sibling. Liesel must have felt abandoned by her younger brother. Despite his leaving in death, her brother left her. In order to cope with his death Liesel takes a book dropped by the gravedigger. The Gravedigger’s Handbook was picked up at her brother’s grave. It was a memento of the event. She could not read at the time, but Liesel had something tangible to touch that reminded her of the brother’s death. Liesel’s father had left the family unit before the narrative in the graveyard. She must have felt abandoned by him as well. After her mother left Liesel with foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, Liesel was left without any biological family. She had emotional issues that were displayed through stealing books. At a book burning, Liesel stole a book. After the mayor’s wife, Ilsa Hermann, gave Liesel permission to take any book in her library, Liesel preferred to steal the books. While in the mayor’s house Liesel and Rudy, her friend, would also steal food as well. The compulsion to steal what is given shows that Liesel has serious emotional problems. The act of taking is more enthralling than the actual possession of something necessary or new. The act of taking books is also symbolic. Words created the world Liesel lived in. Hitler’s speeches and the Nazi rhetoric allowed the violence and abandonment that was Liesel’s world. The theft of words would be impossible, but the closest thing would be stealing books. Liesel’s theft of books from one of the richest people in town, the mayor and his wife, was also symbolic. If Liesel could steal the words from influential people, maybe she could change the world. Words changed the world, thus the theft of words might change the world. While this might not make logical sense; to Liesel it made perfect emotional sense. Liesel also used words to soothe others. She would read stories in the bomb shelters. Her voice calmed the panicked bomb shelter residents. After hearing her read in the bomb shelter Frau Holtzapfel, a neighbor, asks Liesel to read to her. Frau Holtzapfel would not go to the shelter due to her depression over her son’s death. Liesel persuades her to come to the shelter by threatening never to read to her again. The words written by others soothed Liesel and the others. Max Vandenburg, a Jew hidden by Liesel’s foster family, teaches Liesel how to express herself though writing. He writes Liesel two books. Max felt a fondness for Liesel due to the fact she stayed by his bedside when he was sick. She brought him gifts and laid them next to him. Liesel was like his guardian angel. The first story Max wrote was The Standover Man. This story was about people that stand over others watching out for them. Liesel had been Max’s ‘stand over man’ during his sickness. Liesel slowly realizes that stand over men can be as important as family. Even if her family, foster family, or friends leave, Liesel will always have someone that cares. She learned how everyone has a person to look out for them. It did not necessarily have to be family. This helps alleviate a little of the pain. The book had a positive impact on Liesel. The second story was The Word Shaker. This book showed how the power of words could cause a situation like Nazi
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2 Pages(500 words)Book Report/Review
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