Achieving Connection with Readers in Drops of Jupiter and The Book Thief

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When coming upon a new book, watching a movie, or hearing a new song, a person is exposed to many components of the literary theory list without even knowing it. Through the traits of this list, a piece of literature can leave a reader astounded. Without it, the literature may be unremarkable or confusing.

Literature is defined by the reader and how they are affected; if literary theory is not present, no one will want to read, see, or hear it. The literature must be able to keep the audience’s attention and have them walking away satisfied, rather than exhausted, in order to become a great work. The song “Drops of Jupiter,” the book “The Book Thief” and the movie “The Pianist” are three examples of how each component of the literary theory list is critical to obtaining a reader connection and producing a memorable piece.

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The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak, is a story of Liesel Meminger, a German living with a foster family during WWII. In this novel death itself is the narrator and documents everything it sees. Liesel loses and sacrifices many things in her life all at a very young age. Both of her parents are taken away and her younger brother dies on the train to their hiding place, which significantly affects Liesel’s life. At her brother’s gravesite she finds.

The Grave Digger’s Handbook, and takes it, although she cannot read. The Hubermann’s also agree to house their late Jewish friend’s son, Max. This makes the household very dangerous to live in, for consequences of hiding Jews were deadly. Soon Liesel’s foster father, Hans, finds the book that she stole and is inspired to teach her how to read. Liesel soon discovers that Hitler is behind her parents’ and brother’s death, which entices her to steal multiple books from a book-burning pile in town and the mayor’s library.

The story continues to where Hans sends Max away in fear of the Gestapo searching his house and Hans is drafted into the German army. Eventually Ilsa Hermann, the mayor’s wife, grants Liesel a blank book in which she writes her autobiography. This book is found by Death after Liesel’s entire family die from a Himmel Street bombing.

Death returns the book to her as he takes her soul in her old age. The literary theory used in this book is vast. Most importantly, the vicarious experience in The Book Thief is the most significant literary theory trait used. Because a book is usually narrated by a human character, having it narrated by Death exposes the reader to the trauma and pure inhumanity of Nazi Germany.

Factual and historical information are obtained many times throughout reading, for example when Death says “Picture yourself walking down Himmel Street…the sirens begin to howl…in Molching the warnings came with bombs…a few minutes, everything is gone” (pgs. 529-530), the reader can encounter firsthand this experience that was very common in Nazi Germany.

Throughout the novel, the reader feels many emotions and an understanding of the other side of World War II. Therefore the reader, compelled by vicariousness, empathizes with Liesel and her family. Zusak makes the audience feel like they are a part of Liesel’s family and that is what makes it a fantastic piece of literature.

Another very symbolic and moving piece is the song “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. Written in 2001 by Patrick Monahan, it is a song that reveals a hidden pain. Due to its unique and enigmatic lyrics, the meaning of the song has been the subject of speculation since its release. However Monahan himself stated that the hurt exposed by the song is that of his mother’s death, who was suddenly struck with cancer and could not live to fight it. Monahan states that the lyrics of the song came to him in a dream, and when he woke up the words “back in the atmosphere” were in his head.

This inspired him to write the Grammy winning song “Drops of Jupiter”. The literary theory presented in this rock ballad helps the listener to connect their own lives to that of Monahan. Although some may not know what the song is precisely about, it is widely relatable to an audience that has lost a loved one.

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Achieving Connection with Readers in Drops of Jupiter and The Book Thief. (2023, Jun 17). Retrieved from

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