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Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’ retains a major focus on the power of words throughout the novel. Following young Liesel’s journey, Zusak shows how the words are used to develop an invited reading within this novel and whether they are the printed words on the burnt and stolen books or the spoken words that are voiced by the characters, the power of words has the ability to reveal humans at their best and worst. This is conveyed through Max’s story The Word Shaker, which proves that words were an integral part of Nazi Germany, how Liesel uses words to fight against the fear and oppression caused by Hitler (when she reads during the air raids) and the theft and burning of the books which symbolizes Liesel’s struggle throughout her life in Nazi Germany.
The Word Shaker, written by the character of Max Vandenburg, outlines the friendship between Max and Liesel, while also describing how Hitler manipulated his words to rise to power. The book shows the importance of the power of words and how the words reveal humans at their best and worst. In the book thief, Hitler plants words and images into people’s minds which resulted in symbols and ultimately hate. These hateful thoughts spread to other word shakers, other people who perpetuate Hitler’s message. The creation of these word shakers exemplifies the evil nature of humans. In contrast to the evil word shakers, the skinny girl in the book (Liesel) uses her words for good, to save the tree which grew from her tear, which she is able to save when Hitler comes to cut it down. This can be seen as Max’s depiction of how Liesel, who was once without words, had cried on his cheek when he was sick and support Max while he lived in her basement. Max’s tale illustrates how the power of words can be used for both good and evil. It demonstrates how one person can have such a major impact and stand up against Hitler to save a Jew.

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