Book Thief Essay

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One of the main themes in The Book Thief is that words have the power to destroy and to save lives. More important, however, is that words can change the way a person feels. Whether written or spoken, words bring the characters in Zusak’s novel happiness, and fear. This novel also shows that words can sometimes be used for evil. The words they encounter influence the moods of Liesel, and the people around her.

Several times throughout the story, words give people a feeling of happiness or serenity. While browsing through the mayor’s library, Zusak shows Liesel’s love of books by saying, “[t]here were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-colored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.” The books, and the words in them, bring Liesel happiness. Zusak also shows how words can make a person happy through Liesel's weather reports. Every so often she would give Max a weather report in her own creative way. For example, bringing a snowman down to Max, making him shiver, laugh, and ask, “Is this today’s weather report?” Liesel’s quirky weather reports make Max feel happy, because they’re something he gets to look forward to. During an air raid, Liesel read The Whistler to keep herself comfortable, and soon everyone was listening. “The youngest kids were soothed by her voice, and everyone else saw visions of the whistler running from the crime scene.” The words offered a distraction from the scary reality, thus keeping people calm. These are just a few quotes from the novel that show how words can make a person feel happy.

Zusak also uses words to make the characters fearful. In order to make sure Liesel never tells anybody about Max, Hans results to some pretty extreme measures. He threatens, “I will take each and every one of your books –and I will burn them … I’ll throw them in the stove or the fireplace.” In this case, the words making her afraid were about her

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