The Book Thief Literary Analysis Essay

1047 Words 5 Pages
The Basement

Humans are made for battle, some psychological, others more physical. We are born into a broken world where battles are what we know best, but they aren’t the only thing we know. We also have an undenying will to survive even though sometimes we fail to acknowledge its presence. The fact is, without survival there can’t be another battle. So one after the other, we continue to struggle through whatever life, or in some cases death, has to throw at us. In 1933 one of the world’s greatest battles began: the Holocaust, thus providing Mark Zusak the perfect setting for his novel The Book Thief where every character faces a battle of their own. The narrator, Death, recounts his experience during the Holocaust by focusing on a particular
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This event marks the beginning of Liesel’s journey, though it is the one experience that continually haunts her. Throughout the novel Liesel has recurring visions of her dead brother in her arms which leads the reader to believe that she has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Liesel learns to deal with this trauma in the basement. “This is hugely symbolic as in Freudian psychoanalysis the basement represents unconscious drives, repressed fears, traumas, and fantasies. All of these elements do in fact play out in the basement.” Liesel is very hesitant the first time entering, representing her fear of discovering her underlying feelings and bringing them to the surface. After psychoanalytically seeking out the comfort of being a feeble child by writing letters to her mother, she realizes that her mother does not want her and she is alone and deserted in the world. Liesel finds shelter and comfort in the basement through reading, writing, and laying in a fetal position underneath the table, representing her underlying deprivation of a childhood. Liesel ultimately finds enjoyment in escaping reality by hiding inside herself. She spends most of her time writing everywhere she can: letters to her mother, words on the walls, even her own novel: The Book Thief. In a world where she is surrounded by propaganda and hateful words, Liesel decides to use her own words to build a shelter around herself for protection, …show more content…
He carries around a copy of Mein Kampf, the book that has killed his friends and family. Ironically, it has saved his life because in it he carries his required documents for escape. Instead of escaping he ends up living in Liesel’s basement. Much like Liesel, Max has nightmares and visions of past traumatic events, representing his constant internal state of terror and fear. To Max, the basement could easily just be another place to hide in from the Nazis, but instead he is able to find his coping mechanism for trauma in the basement. “He allows his unconscious fantasies to play out both through writing his story ‘The Word Shaker’ and through his fantasy of boxing Hitler.” Max spends all of his time trapped in the basement and formulates the mindset that his life is a punishment. “The basement was the only place for him” (p.209). To overcome his repressed feelings of loneliness, Max paints words on the walls to help teach Liesel to read. When alone, Max allows the words to suffocate him, trapping him in his own mind, seeking a way out. Max grows fond of Liesel while living on Himmel street. To show her, he takes his copy of Mein Kampf, paints over the pages, and rips them out to write books for Liesel about their friendship. Zusak uses this act of rebellion to show that Max has decided to defeat Hitler and overcome his fear by rewriting over Hitler’s hateful words. This is the first time the

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