The Book Thief Themes By: Madison Jornod

Theme 1: Words Transform Perspective

Words can influence the decisions of others.

"'Is it -- good?' He looked up from the pages, forming his fingers into a fist and then flattening them back out. Sweeping away the anger, he smiled at her. He lifted the feathery fringe and dumped it toward his eyes. 'It's the best book ever.' Looking at Papa, then back at the girl" (Zusak 217).

Germany was left in debt after paying for the damages of other countries that emerged from WWI. The Germans were left in a time of struggle, leading to the rise of Hitler. Hitler blamed the Jews for all destruction in the world and made the Germans believe Jewish people were the reason/cause of their difficulties. In order for Adolf Hitler to gain the power he desired, he had to spread the word and keep people in oblivion. Through education, Hitler Youth programs, propaganda and the regulation of texts, he influenced the people's decisions and perspective on topics like; the Aryan Race, Militarism, and the idea of the Third Reich. Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man in The Book Thief, was reading a copy of Mein Kampf. This book was sold to members of the Nazi Party and was studied in Hitler Youth programs, such as the one Liesel attended. The pages were filled with words from Hitler himself and contained propaganda that influenced the thoughts of many, proving that words transform perspective.

The article, "Words Have the Power to Change Our Lives," explains how words have become more than just, "what we hear, write or read," they have become something more. They have become our way of life. We use words throughout the day, whether it be, communicating and interacting with each other, creating new ideas, or building relationships, words are the foundation. In the halls or even in the classroom we ask questions to understand a subject and gain knowledge. We generate new ideas and share them with the world, in hopes of making a difference. All relationships start with a single person having the courage to say a simple word, "Hi." In the end all words have, "the power to change your life," and change, "our entire system of beliefs."

Theme 2: Death is Inevitable

Eventually life will come to an end.

"I witness the homeless everywhere. They often come after me as I wander through the streets of molested cities. They beg me to take them with me, not realizing I'm to busy as it is. 'Your time will come,' I convince them, and I try not to look back" (Zusak 308).

Death, being the narrator of The Book Thief, tells the readers about his travels. In his different stories he talks about collecting souls, encounters with the book thief, herself, and so forth. In this specific story, after an air raid, he witness' homeless people as he walks through a city that has been destroyed. The bombs fell from the sky, obliterating the city and it's surroundings, leaving a few people behind without shelter. The ones left behind, come to him begging to be taken away. Begging for him to take them out of their misery but, he simple states, "Your time will come," proving that death is inevitable and everyone will eventually die.

Peter Saul talks about his work in the ICU and the people he encountered. He helped lots of people and he "saved their lives." Peter did incredible work and impacted the lives of many. In addition to this, he talks about death and how everyone will die at some point. He goes in depth about the topic death; how in the ICU all they were able to do was prolong a life. They were able to, in most cases, bring safety to the patient and cure them of their sicknesses. After seeing it all, all the diseases, wounds, and issues many dealt with. Peter came to the conclusion saying, they weren't technically saving the person's life because they would eventually die like everyone else. Peter Saul says, "All of us are in fact going to die... there is no exception about that." In other words, death is inevitable.

Theme 3: Knowledge Expands Individualism

Knowledge opens the eyes to the truth and provides pathways for imagination.

"When she reached her hand in, she was bitten, but on the second attempt, she made sure she was fast enough. She latched onto the closest of the books. It was hot, but it was also wet, burned only at the edges, but otherwise unhurt. It was blue" (Zusak 120).

During WWII, citizens of Nazi Germany were forced to give up all their possessions that went against the Nazi Party beliefs and their dictator, Adolf Hitler. That included books written by Jewish authors and, in general, any book in favor of the Jewish people. After all the books were collected, they were thrown together in piles and burned. As books were taken away, knowledge was taken away from the people and the ability for them to be an individual was stripped away. The lack of education on topics and propaganda worked hand in hand, keeping people clueless, brainwashed, and changed their opinion of the Jewish people. Liesel made her way to one of the fires and picked up a book,The Shoulder Shrug, about a Jewish hero. This book changed her life. It not only changed her perspective on things, but it opened her eyes to the concept of Jews being good. The knowledge she gained from reading books allowed her to grow. At the beginning of Liesel's life on Himmel street, she didn't have much knowledge, education wise, but with the help of Hans Hubermann and books, she was able to grow as an individual and become knowledgeable, having her own thoughts and opinions towards different topics, proving that knowledge expands individualism.

This article, "The Age of Individualism," talks about individualism and how beliefs and social norms have changed through out time. Individualism is a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual (""). Throughout this article, different generations beliefs are mentioned. Ross Douthat believes that through the years people have gained knowledge and a sense of wanting to be heard. In politics, the younger generations are more liberal because the idea of being able to have a voice and the idea of changing the social stigmas in the society is important. Changing the way a society views things, takes a lot of effort and evidence. A person must be knowledgeable on both sides of the subject. This article proves that knowledge expands individualism, by showing how educated people can change the world and a nations viewpoint.

"", n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

Summative Theme: Death is Inevitable

My Bible a reminder that there is life after death.


Created with images by wilhei - "font lead set book printing" • Kitti.Jakobovits - "characters,words..." • AdeventureAndy - "cemetary" • DariuszSankowski - "knowledge book library"

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