Title: The Book Thief
Composer: Markus Zusak
Publication Details: 2005, Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited.
Form: Fiction Novel
Purpose/Audience: 19 – 39 readers, not gender/race/culture specific. Purpose is to entertain and enlighten.
Context: Set in 1939, Nazi Germany.
Explores the Holocaust and WWII from the point of view of Liesel, a little German girl who loses her mother and brother, gains a foster family and protects a Jewish man from the Nazis, loses her foster parents, her friends, her neighbours and the Jewish man to Death and Hitler, only to be reunited with them all again, her family and friends in death and the Jewish man in life when she is safe in Sydney, ...view middle of the document...
But, do you think it's plausible? Why or why not?
2. Identity: Personal identity is explored in the text and conflict for the characters between showing who they really are and conforming to the Nazi regime. Most characters are at odds with the Nazi Party and choose to affiliate themselves, privately, to the Jews plight. In particular, Max has to act like he is a German Nazi supporter instead of the Jew he was raised as, although this exclusion from both the Nazi Party and his Jewish Heritage allows him to build a relationship with Liesel and Hans.
• In front of him, he read from the copy of Mein Kampf. His saviour. Sweat was swimming out of his hands. Fingermarks clutched the book. (26.2) Max knows that if he can "pass" as a non Jew long enough, he can get to Himmel Street, his best chance for survival. The very best way to establish this identity temporarily is to carry a copy of Hitler's book.
• They hugged and cried and fell on the floor. (87.4) Max and Liesel belong together. His love for her and her love for him, as well as their past experiences together, emphasis this connection.
• Hang on a second, he was German. Or more to the point, he had been. (26.20)
The Nuremburg Laws were passed in 1933 and 1935. They stripped Jews of their German Citizenship and right to vote. Legally speaking, all Jews in Germany were in the country illegally. This manipulation of the legal system was an integral part of the Nazi technique. Read more in "Setting."
3. Suffering (Memory): There is suffering in every page, whether this is in the form of Death, the physical suffering of the Jewish people or in the emotional turmoil of the majority of the characters. The guilt and suffering serve as a catalyst for the characters to find and establish a strong sense of belonging and acceptance with others in similar emotional states.
• Still in disbelief, she started to dig. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't. (5.60) the death of Liesel's brother causes her great suffering. It also seems to create empathy and prepares her to understand Max's suffering.
• Every night, Liesel would nightmare. (7.2)
These nightmares are bitter-sweet kind of suffering. They terrify her. She can't control them. But, they bring her just a little closer to her dead brother. A major turning point for Liesel is when she lets go of the nightmares and learns to carry Werner in her heart and memory.
How meaning is made to convey Belonging/Techniques: Limited First Person, Symbolism, Writing Style.
1. Limited First...