July 18, 2009
AP Literature Essay
The Book Thief
Haunted By Symbols
Through all of the irony and vivid coloring, The Book Thief is more easily understood after acquiring knowledge of reading literature with greater care and meticulousness. Applying chapters of How to Read Literature like a Professor can better enhance a reader’s awareness of hidden messages and symbols within certain works of literature. In Chapter Two, Foster explains how meals suggest a communion between all parties involved in it. Markus Zusak also uses meals and food to bring families together in The Book Thief. Foster also explains, in Chapter Eleven, how violence in literature usually stands for more than just violence.
In Chapter Two of How to Read Literature like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster says “whenever people eat or drink together, it’s communion” (8). Rosa Hubermann’s watery pea soup was a strong central point for most of the meals in The Book Thief. When Max arrives at the house on Himmel Street, Rosa feeds him some of her soup. This moment brings comfort and protection for the Hubermanns and the Jewish man. It is the start of Max’s temporary safety. When Liesel “steals” the stale cookies from the mayor’s house, readers feel the strange friendship between the mayor’s wife and Liesel. The cookies, along with the books, create a strong relationship between the women with two completely different worlds. Sometimes, it’s not only meals or foods that bring peace and communion. The first night that Liesel arrives on Himmel Street, Hans Hubermann introduces her to the art of rolling cigarettes. They sit against the wall in the bathroom and roll cigarettes all night and establish a father-daughter bond that Liesel had never experienced before.
Violence in literature is very common. “Violence is one of the most personal and even intimate acts between human beings, but it can also be cultural and societal in its implications” (Foster 88). But perhaps even the most...