The Book Thief Saves Liesel’s Life

Table of Content

There are several stages to successfully execute a genocide. One of the earlier stages is dehumanization. In order for people to hate Jews, Hitler had to make them look like the devil. Hitler stripped Jews of their rights and portrayed them as monsters. For example, when Max and Hitler were in a fight. Hitler hit Max several times and the crowd cheered, but when Max hit Hitler back the crowd went silent. Hitler used this as an example of how dangerous and unpredictable Jews are.

This shows how easily people in Germany were manipulated and how they perceived Jews. Hitler’s speech at town square is another example of dehumanization. “We put an end to the disease that has been spread through Germany for the last twenty years, if not more!” Shouted Hitler. He told the crowd to seek out and destroy the evil machinations plotting to infect the motherland with its “deplorable ways”. Once again, Hitler is persuading people to kill Jews. The only place Max can live is a cold basement. Jews are forced into hiding rather than living like normal people.

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Books that were either stolen or given to Liesel have a major role in the plot, it is divided among these books. The Nazi book burning shows how Hitler is threatened by books. He fears that books will contradict his propaganda. The book burning also represents the limited amount of free speech and how powerful books are. Liesel retaliates by stealing one of the books from the pile. Mein Kampf is an example of Nazi propaganda and how books can be used in several different ways. Mein Kampf is a destructive book meant to manipulate people.

But, Max uses the book in a different way. He writes over it with his own creative, compassionate language. Now the book is meant to bring happiness and creativity, rather than to persuade and dehumanize. The Book Thief saves Liesel’s life both figuratively and literally. The book saves her life by putting Liesel in the basement. The book figuratively saves her life by allowing her to escape the world around her. She was able to focus on her good thoughts rather than her bad ones.

Death: Death is the narrator of the story, and puts perspective on the story that acts as a third person and a first person’s point of view. Rather than acting dark and scary, Death has visible feelings and cares about a lot of the characters in the book

Liesel Meminger: She is the main character as well as the book thief. Liesel’s relationship with words changes quite often throughout the book. She loves words, because she loves to read and write, but she hates what they can do in cases like the words that Hitler used to turned Germany against Jews.

Hans Hubermann: He is Liesel’s foster father, and has a very close bond with her. He plays his accordion for her, paints with her, comforts her, and teaches her to read when she struggles. Rosa Hubermann: Although she is much stricter and more harsh, Rosa loves Liesel just as much as Hans. She calls Liesel a Saumensch (pig girl) and runs a very tight ship at home

Rudy Steiner: He is Liesel’s best friend throughout her whole childhood.The two of them steal together, play soccer together, and get themselves into a lot of mischief. Max Vandenburg: He is the son of a friend of Hans’s, who is a Jew. Max stays in the basement of the Hubermanns and develops a very close bond with Liesel. He does push ups in the basement and imagines fighting Hitler.

Ilsa Hermann: Ilsa is the mayor’s wife and lives on Grande Strasse. She shows Liesel her library and lets her read in there. Her son died in World War I and she is still grieving. After having to fire Rosa when money gets tighter, she lets Liesel sneak into her library and steal books, even though Liesel yelled at her to get over the death of her son

Frau Holtzapfel: Although she shows her disliking for Rosa in the beginning of the book by always spitting on her doorstep, she eventually gives her coffee ration for Liesel to read to her. This shows how drastically people’s relationships can change in a time of crisis.

Death is amazed and confused how humans act so many different ways. When humans do good things it makes his job a lot harder. Death is haunted by humans ability to make different moral choices unexpectedly. “The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy who loves you.” -Death (Page 52)

This is about Rudy to Liesel. Rudy is incredibly helpless because he is so in love with Liesel. At many points in the book, Rudy will ask Liesel for a kiss, “I am haunted by humans.” -Death (Page 550)

This is the last thing Death says to Liesel before taking her soul, after her long life. Death is “constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race” and is baffled and in awe of what humans have done and continue to do. Death struggles to understand humans and their actions. “‘Often I wish this would all be over, Liesel, but then somehow you do something like walk down the basement steps with a snowman in your hands’” -Max (Page 313)

Max says this to Liesel on Christmas Eve, after Liesel brought snow into the basement where Max was staying. The whole family built a snowman together. Even in the worst of times, Liesel and the family find a way to make it enjoyable. Although Max has faced a lot of pain and struggle, moments like these make him happy to be where he is. “‘Goodbye, Saumensch.’ He laughed. ‘Good night, book thief’” – Rudy (Page 292)

This is the first time Liesel is called a book thief, and she likes the title. This name becomes the title of the book she writes later on, and explains why Death often refers to Liesel as the book thief in the book. “I have given you two events in advance, because I don’t have much interest in building. Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It’s the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me.” -Death (Page 243)

Death tells the reader early on in the book about what events will occur later on. He foreshadows the deaths of most characters who die, but doesn’t care. Death says that he doesn’t care about the ending, rather about what had to happen in order for that ending to occur.

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The Book Thief Saves Liesel’s Life. (2021, Sep 30). Retrieved from

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