Ethics In The Book Thief

1195 Words 5 Pages
The notion of the rule-breaking is a double-edged sword, especially in a society that completely disregards the most basic code of ethics. There are essentially two categories of rules one may be faced with, those that are set by the governing power, and those that are the unspoken standards of human behavior. In the German era of Nazi reign, individuals are faced with the dilemma of either choosing to openly defy the laws of the land by supporting the Jews, receiving various degrees of punishment, or quietly succumbing to their societies inhumane ways and laws. This forced characters in The Book Thief, including Hans, Liesel, and Rudy, to re-examine their values and ultimately decide to resist these unjust laws for the sake of the Jews. Through …show more content…
By taking the latter stance, individuals were subject to becoming social outcasts, usually experiencing various degrees of persecution. When Max shows up on the Hubermann 's doorstep, the family feels obligated to help and support the Jew. Hans feels like he owes his life to Eric Vandenberg who indirectly saved him during World War I, promising his family that he would be there "if there 's anything [they] ever need" (179). Hans knows the dangerous implications the presence of a Jew has on his family, and yet, he welcomes Max into his home with arms open wide. Outwardly, the Hubermann 's pretend to be law-biding citizens to their society, while on the inside they harbor their dangerous secret. On one fateful night, their "life had altered in the wildest possible way, but it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened" (211). As a whole, the family was sworn to secrecy, because if anyone found out about the Jew that was hiding in their basement, they could be put to death, or even worse, treated like the Jews. They had to put on a façade to the outside world, making daily life even more stressful; despite this extra pressure placed on his family, Hans was true to his word, assisting Max Vandenberg in his time of need. Contrary to …show more content…
In rare instances, there are strong-willed individuals that are willing to openly express their values, especially in supporting and assisting the Jews. Characters such as Hans, Rudy, and Liesel display extreme bravery and courage by acting in accordance to their beliefs, despite the adversity and criticism imposed upon them by their society. One day, as a group of Jews parades past Rudy and Liesel 's town, heading toward the concentration camp Dachau, they decide to throw measly bits of bread to the passing Jews, as if to ease their torture in the slightest bit. Although it was not only frowned upon, but also illegal to feed or assist Jews in any way, Liesel believed that "it was worth whipping" (440). Liesel is willing to break the rules, therefore risking her life, in order to help the people group of Max, the man who impacted her life so drastically. As for these naive children, Rudy and Liesel, they must learn the difficult way that an innocent act of kindness in an intolerant society can often lead to severe punishment. Hans also offers bread to a dying Jewish man, but in his case, he suffers dire consequences. What a Nazi soldier witnesses Hans ' kindness, "he was struck four times before he… Hit the ground" (394). The Nazi whipped Hans because in his eyes, Hans was breaking the law; this demonstrates the extent of "brainwashing" any Nazi supporter undergoes. In this instance, the cruelty of the Nazi

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