The Book Thief Themes Jake Teeter

THEME 1: Courage is the key to achievement

If you never try, you'll never know what you are capable -John Barrow

Quote 1:

"In 1933, 90 percent of Germans showed unflinching support for Adolph Hitler. That leaves 10 percent who didn't. Hans Hubermann belonged to that ten percent." (10.9)

That quote just shows how impressive it was for Hans Hubermann to not only show but maintain his lack of support towards Hitler. 90 percent alone is really an intriguing statistic, especially, for how it goes to show how rare people like Hans really were. The fact that he didn't support Hitler would later reoccur differently in the story where Hans finds Liesel, and she, still upset from a man's speech, Liesel asks if her mother was a communist and if that's why she was taken away from her and why her brother died. She asks if Hitler is responsible for her family being gone. Hans says he thinks Hitler might have been responsible. Liesel says she hates the Fuhrer , and Hans ends up slapping her, then tells her that she must never say that outside of the house. That instant continues to show Hans's courageous resistance towards Hitler which would later help him achieve his goal.

Real world example of: Courage is the key to achievement:

The Blind Side Movie:

In this scene the quote: “Courage is a hard thing to figure. You can have courage based on a dumb idea or mistake, but you’re not supposed to question adults, or your coach or your teacher, because they make the rules. Maybe they know best, but maybe they don’t. It all depends on who you are, where you come from. Didn’t at least one of the six hundred guys think about giving up, and joining with the other side? I mean, valley of death that’s pretty salty stuff. That’s why courage it’s tricky. Should you always do what others tell you to do? Sometimes you might not even know why you’re doing something. I mean any fool can have courage. But honor, that’s the real reason for you either do something or you don’t. It’s who you are and maybe who you want to be. If you die trying for something important, then you have both honor and courage, and that’s pretty good. I think that’s what the writer was saying, that you should hope for courage and try for honor. And maybe even pray that the people telling you what to do have some, too.” is spoken by Michael Oher. This quote definitely represent my theme wonderfully, where in which, it discusses how without the courage to achieve something, you may never achieve what you sought after. For example, at some point Michael even began to contemplate whether or not he should commit to school and or football as hard as needed. Hypothetically if he didn't commit and didn't get over his fears, chances are he would've lost nearly everything close to him, like his family and his chance at a healthy career. But Michael ended up gathering the courage needed, and he eventually overcame the doubts that haunted him, and he achieved his dream.

Theme 2: love conquers all

"It's easy to be loving, when we take the time to see the worth in those around it."

Quote 2:

"From the toolbox the boy took out, of all things, a teddy bear.He reached in through the torn windshield and placed it on the pilot's chest. (427)"

In this quote the person who did that (gave the pilot the teddy bear), was actually Rudy. Within the novel, Rudy has proven that he's dedicated himself to acts of kindness and love, small and large. Throughout all odds, especially knowing that Rudy had no idea who that pilot really was, and what he was really planning, Rudy didn't care. Rudy understood that the man was in pain, therefore he did what he can. The pilot thanks him, in English, but Death takes the pilot before he can provide Rudy with the German translation.

Real world example:Romeo and Juliet:

This is probably the most famous love novels ever. This couple has become a synonym for love itself. Romeo and Juliet was written by William Shakespeare. Their love story is very tragic. The tale of two teenagers from two feuding families who fall in love at first sight and then marry, become true lovers and then risk it all for their love. One of the quotes from the play that greatly demonstrates how love conquered all can be found at (2.6.24-34) in the play transcript: ROMEO Ah, Juliet, if the measure of thy joy.Be heaped like mine, and that thy skill be more.To blazon it, then sweeten with thy breath.This neighbor air, and let rich music's tongue.Unfold the imagined happiness that both.Receive in either by this dear encounter.JULIET:Conceit, more rich in matter than in words,Brags of his substance, not of ornament.They are but beggars that can count their worth,But my true love is grown to such excess. I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth. Although the endings vary for Romeo and Juliet, the common theme is how love always remained consistently resilience, and that love always, in some way, perceived

Theme #3: Regret is powerful

If you aren't in the moment, you are either looking forward to uncertainty, or back to pain and regret.

Quote #3:

“She leaned down and looked at his lifeless face and Leisel kissed her best friend, Rudy Steiner, soft and true on his lips. He tasted dusty and sweet. He tasted like regret in the shadows of trees and in the glow of the anarchist's suit collection. She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers...She did not say goodbye. She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground. It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on...” (Markus Zusak, The Book Thief 527)

In the "Book Thief" by Markus Zusak, one of the most compelling and intriguing things that came out of the story, to me, was how Death explains that it is not the dead, but the heartbroken survivors of the dead that it cannot stand to look at. Which just goes to show how regret and even heartbreak, can lead to unprecedented amounts of pain towards one person. Therefore different characters treat such regret in decisive yet diverse ways. Other than the incident with Liesel and Rudy experiencing great amounts of regret/guilt can be seen through Michael Holtzapfel, who actually ends up surviving the Battle of Stalingrad, but is unable to stand his guilt over living when his brother Robert died and ultimately, and he greatly regrets not taking more drastic measures to help Robert,Michael eventually does get overwhelmed and unfortunately, commits suicide. Also for Ilsa Hermann, she becomes reserved and broken, after her only son is killed in 1918, yet Liesel brings her some forms of happiness, and she urges Liesel not to make the same mistake she did by suffering for the rest of her life.

Real world example:

Overall, this is a TED talks where Kathryn Schulz, basically discusses on how, if you wanted to be a fully functional person in today's society, it is essential to not live with the burden of regret. One of my favorite parts of her speech was when she discussed the following passage "Things without all remedy should be without regard; what's done is done." And it seems like kind of an admirable philosophy at first — something we might all agree to sign onto ... until I tell you who said it. Right, so this is Lady MacBeth basically telling her husband to stop being such a wuss for feeling bad about murdering people. And as it happens, Shakespeare was onto something here, as he generally was. Because the inability to experience regret is actually one of the diagnostic characteristics of sociopaths. It's also, by the way, a characteristic of certain kinds of brain damage. So people who have damage to their orbital frontal cortex seem to be unable to feel regret in the face of even obviously very poor decisions. So if, in fact, you want to live a life free of regret, there is an option open to you. It's called a lobotomy. But if you want to be fully functional and fully human and fully humane, I think you need to learn to live, not without regret, but with it. So let's start off by defining some terms. What is regret? Regret is the emotion we experience when we think that our present situation could be better or happier if we had done something different in the past. So in other words, regret requires two things. It requires, first of all, agency — we had to make a decision in the first place. And second of all, it requires imagination. We need to be able to imagine going back and making a different choice, and then we need to be able to kind of spool this imaginary record forward and imagine how things would be playing out in our present. And in fact, the more we have of either of these things — the more agency and the more imagination with respect to a given regret, the more acute that regret will be. So let's say for instance that you're on your way to your best friend's wedding and you're trying to get to the airport and you're stuck in terrible traffic, and you finally arrive at your gate and you've missed your flight. You're going to experience more regret in that situation if you missed your flight by three minutes than if you missed it by Why? Well because, if you miss your flight by three minutes, it is painfully easy to imagine that you could have made different decisions that would have led to a better outcome. "I should have taken the bridge and not the tunnel. I should have gone through that yellow light." These are the classic conditions that create regret. We feel regret when we think we are responsible for a decision that came out badly, but almost came out well." This was an excellent point made by Kathryn Schulz, where she basically explains what regret fundamentally is. The quote that stood out to me the most was where she said "Because the inability to experience, regret is actually one of the diagnostic characteristics of sociopaths. It's also, by the way, a characteristic of certain kinds of brain damage. So people who have damage to their orbital frontal cortex seem to be unable to feel regret in the face of even obviously very poor decisions."Which goes to show how strong regret can be towards a person, even in some cases it show just how uniquely mendacious people can be towards addressing their own regret.

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