The Book Thief Themes By cooper Johnson

Theme 1: Who Gets to Judge What is a Crime?

Is Crime Always a Crime?

"The book thief had struck for the first time – the beginning of an illustrious career" (Zusak 119).

Within the book thief and during time periods like Nazi Germany the concept of what was considered a crime was all but clear. For instance the small act of stealing a book before its pages are turned to ash is considered stealing yet all of Germany is asked to commit a crime against humanity. It is impossible to compare the severity of the two crimes. So I ask the question who can truly judge what is a crime and what isn't. This decision is something easily left up to those with power and credibility, but is that the best option? Why give someone so much authority to say the mass murder of a people is okay, yet the petty theft of a book is punishable to great extent? The way of following what one person says is okay leads to tragedy and discrimination. To truly sort out the true crimes it should always fall back to one simple thing. What betrays the nature of humanity and morality is the only thing that is a true crime.

This YouTube video shows what is often referred to as the Heinz Dilemma. The Heinz Dilemma shows how much humans value morals over what is stated as law. The People interviewed ranged from ages 6-16, each with varying answers. The only person to say it would be best to not steal the medicine was the 6 year old. This is because he is still developing his moral values and at that age those values are heavily influenced by the law. Then you look at the other ages they are convinced that in times when the law goes against the unspoken laws of humanity it is okay to break the law. They value the the life of the wife over the consequences of theft. To further show that the only true law is our moral beliefs and humanity.

Theme 2: Censorship Is the Greatest Prison

Locked In a Jail of unknown knowledge

"Not only is it our great leader's birthday - but we also stop our enemies once again. We stop them reaching into our minds...'" (Zusak 110).

The idea that knowledge is power is a widely known concept. But there is another side of that coin, the idea that the lack of knowledge is just as powerful for those who posses knowledge. This theme plays a prominent role within history and The Book Thief. The Nazis burnt any book they felt went against their ideals, extinguishing any alternate way of thinking for the public. There is no doubt the Nazis found power in censorship. They found power in the peoples lack of knowledge. As explained on page 110 they celebrated the burning of the books as a way of stealing knowledge from the public. In the eyes of the public being locked in a dark room of unknowing is the worst way to watch the world pass by. Kept in the dark and un-allowed to light a candle. The people watched as these terrible events took place, but didn't have the knowledge to recognize them for what they were.

Before we begin dissecting this song lets define the word hurt in this instance. In the song and in this breakdown hurt will be used as a broad and general term. Hurt can have many different meanings whether that's physical or mental. Within this popular song made by the infamous Jackson 5, they describe the notion that the knowledge you lack wont hurt you. I find this to be just as true as it is false. It is true in the way that as long as you are not aware of events happening there is no way to stress over them. You can't truly fear for someones life if you don't they are in danger. Then there is the false side, which has a couple of variations. One being the information you don't know wont hurt you, until the probable learning of said information. Once they learn the information it goes from not hurting them to possibly hurting them. The other variations is when the person never fully gains awareness for the information, but their ignorance over time has hurt those around them horribly. So horribly in fact that they might become distant from that person or leave all together, destroying that relationship. The person never fully gained the knowledge but the censorship done by them or a higher power eventually caused them to hurt.

Theme 3: The Influence of Stereotypes is Stronger than Personal Encounters

Stereotypes Trump Relations

"He was not the junior misogynistic type of boy at all" (Zusak 237).

The power of stereotypes goes hand in hand with the power of discrimination. In many cases stereotypes discriminate against a group of people. To what length will people believe a stereotype over their own personal knowledge? In other words at what point will people believe stereotypes over their personal experiences with other people. This thought is always present within history and The Book Thief. In these two intertwined settings showed people disregard their old impressions of others for the stereotypes they where told to believe. On many occasions a Jewish family has meaningful and good relationships with neighbors, but once the horrible stereotypes of Jews start to spread and take hold, that same family loses all of its relationships. People chose to believe what they are told over what they know.

This article dives into the true power a stereotype can have on someone who falls into that category. It explains and analysis someones test scores when they are reminded of a stereotype surrounding their ethnicity or gender. In majority of the cases where the stereotype was positive the person taking the test would score higher than normal. For example they reminded an Asian student that according to this stereotype they are better at math, and the Asian subject scored marginally higher. The exact opposite happens when the stereotype is negative. For example a black man was reminded that according to a stereotype, black men don't test well. In this case just calling the assessment a test affected his performance. They then called it a puzzle and the man scored increasingly better. This is interesting because in both cases the subjects didn't lose or gain any knowledge on the subject. The only thing that changed was their mindset, which changed so drastically that it made them think they didn't know things they did or vice versa. This truly shows the power stereotypes, positive or negative, have on people and their ability to preform at their best.

Theme Summative : Censorship Is the Greatest Prison


Created with images by shutterhacks - "Books" • stux - "fingerprint daktylogramm papillary" • meeshypants - "barring freedom" • Pexels - "chess dark light"

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