Themes in The Book Thief By: Dalton Kirchhoefer

Theme 1: Ignorance is Bliss

If you do not know about something, you do not worry about it.

"-a present from herself. She would gather all of the accrued letters to her mother, stuff them into one envelope, and use just a tiny portion of the washing and ironing money to mail it" (Zusak 98).

Not knowing what happened to her real mother masked Liesel from the truth that her mom is most likely dead. Her hope that her mother was still out there pushed her to try to make contact with her. She felt that if she could only send the letters she wrote to her mother then maybe she could reach her, but this never happened. Not knowing her mother was most likely dead or captured saved liesel from the pain and realization that her mother was dead, and that she had no real family left.

The article compares the carefree time of childhood to that of an adult. She talks about how as a child, no one worried or cared about anything and relatively ignored what happened around them. But as an adult, there are many worries and stresses put onto your life by jobs and other things that can have negative effects on you. If people could view their adult life through the eyes of a child, their stress levels and worries decrease dramatically, giving them a form of bliss in their chaotic lives.

Theme 2: Stealing for a good cause is just.

Stealing for the need of survival is much different that of stealing when nothing is needed.

"I'm starving" (Zusak 151)

Liesel and Rudy join a thievery gang after seeing them out on the streets carrying pocketfuls of apples. They followed them back and when asked why they were there, Rudy told them he was starving. Both Rudy and Liesel were stealing for their survival needs as both of their families were dirt poor and barely ever having a good meal. Rudy and Liesel's act of stealing food to feed themselves is a good cause as it keeps them alive and helps them get by in their lives much easier.

The article explains what is almost a direct copy of the situation Liesel and Rudy are in. In Italy, stealing small amounts of food while in desperate need is now ruled as legal. After a starving homeless man stole 5$ worth of food and sentenced to 6 months in jail the court over ruled his punishment and made it just to steal small amounts of food when in great need. The court system in Italy showed that stealing for a good cause is just just like when Liesel and Rudy stole the apples because Rudy was starving.

Theme 3: Words can have Hidden Meanings.

Words can mean more than just their definition.

"Every second word was either Saumensch or Saukerl or Arschloch"(Zusak 32).

The Hubermanns talk to each other very differently than other families. They do not truly mean what they say, but its as if they say these words with love. Rosa calls Hans 'Arschloch' very often but still loves him. The Hubermann's verbal abuse is a form of affection between their family. This has also rubbed off on Liesel since she had moved into their home, and now she commonly uses those terms with her friend Rudy, but not with the intent of insulting him, but as a form of showing how strong their friendship is. Even though Rosa and Liesel may use these words to truly insult someone, when they are used towards either their family or friends, the words give off meaning more than just their definition, and shows affection towards others.

The article gives the example of Nelson Mandala and how his words meant more than just their definition. Nelson's speeches reached a large crowd and were able to bring people together. The article quotes Mandala saying that he never took words lightly, this shows that there is always a second meaning to what most people say whether or not it is blatantly obvious. When in a true relationship of some kind, the things that person says would be taken much differently than if a complete stranger told you the same exact things, and as a relationship grows, certain words or phrases become more of an inside joke so to say, and when said to each other shows how strong their friendship is.

Summative Theme: Ignorance is Bliss

Me as a child during a field trip to an apple orchard.

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