Symbolism In The Book Thief By Markus Zusak

1388 Words 6 Pages
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an intricate and powerful novel with grim elements yet a consoling humour. The majority of the novel takes place in a fictional town of Molching, Germany, during World War II and the rise in power of Adolf Hitler. Death narrates the story as it follows the protagonist Liesel Meminger through her trials and tribulations between the years of 1939 to 1943. In The Book Thief, many elements are woven into the story, delving into a complex web of the character’s lives.
Throughout this novel, plenty examples of symbolism are shown. The death of Liesel’s brother is where the story starts and her brother’s funeral is where Liesel steals her first book. The symbol of words is important to Liesel and in the story as
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Reading -- particularly reading Max 's writings to her -- brings Liesel great joy throughout the novel, yet she despairs after seeing Max on his way to a concentration camp, and rips up a book, questioning what good words are. Ilsa Hermann, the mayor’s wife who, in the novel, expresses to Liesel her great library and gives her the freedom to use at her disposal, gives Liesel a blank book and encourages her to write. Liesel ends up writing the story of her life, ending with the line, "I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.” (pge 528)
Furthermore, another example of symbolism established in The Book Thief is the accordion. Hans Hubermann gives great comfort to Liesel through the playing of his accordion, and for Hans, the accordion is the symbol of the man who gave it to him – the man who saved his life – Erik Vandenburg. Vandenburg’s son, Max, comes to Hans as a last resort for help, and the accordion symbolizes his hope for surviving the holocaust. The first thing Max says to Hans when he arrives at 33 Himmel Street is the question, “Do you still play the accordion?” (page
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The narrator Death reveals a large majority of important events to happen, especially to give premonition to what the circumstances of certain character’s fates are. Firstly, in the prologue, Death tells what characters the novel will consist of, which are, “A girl” (Liesel), “An accordionist” (Hans), “Some fanatical Germans” (The Nazi Party), and, “A Jewish fist fighter” (Max). (Page 5) Secondly, another example of foreshadowing is, also during the prologue, when Death meets Liesel for the second time, which is during the death of an American fighter pilot, and the third and last time, where Death foretells the ending of the novel during the bombing of Himmel Street in Molching. Furthermore, Death explains Liesel as [one of those] “perpetual survivors” (page 5), which indicates that Liesel survives the war. As previously mentioned, certain character’s fates and circumstances are explained. An example of this is in the chapter entitled “The Floating Book”, and tells how Rudy jumps in to the Amper River to save one of Liesel’s books. Death then proclaims that, “He [Rudy] didn’t deserve to die the way he did.” (page 241) Death explains that, “Preemptively, you conclude, as I would, that Rudy died that very same day, of hypothermia. He did not. Recollections like those merely remind me that he was not deserving of the fate that met him a little under two year later… He would have been glad to witness her kissing his

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