Stolen Words One can receive words as direction while others use them in negative ways. Words are highly influential on Liesel’s life in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. When Liesel stole her first book, it was “the beginning of an illustrious career” (29). Liesel’s obsession with stealing books is ironic because she was in act of seeking revenge while she could not read or write. Stealing her first book opened Liesel up to a world filled with words and grammar.
As she stared at The Grave Digger’s Handbook, “touching the print inside, she had no idea what it was saying. ”(38). Because Liesel could not read or write, as a nine-year-old, she was forced to attend school with children who just started learning the alphabet. There was a stolen book hidden under Liesel’s bed and she didn’t know what any of the words said. That inspired her to have “sudden desire to read it that she didn’t even attempt to understand” (66).
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However, it was also ironic that she asked her foster father to teach her these skills, when he could not comprehend them himself. It all became beneficial for Liesel because his lack of ability “would cause less frustration in coping with the girl’s lack of ability” (65). Because Hans could not read acutely, he understood what she was going through, and he was patient. In a few years, she was able to pick up a book and read it by herself. When Liesel did learn how to read, she kept stealing books.
On Hitler’s birthday, she sitting on the steps watching the dead aftermath of the celebration. She was just thinking about her mother and her brother. Then she started making calculations. “The word communist + a large bonfire + a collection of dead letters + the suffering of her mother + the death of her brother = the Fuhrer” (115). Liesel realized that her mother was taken was by Hitler because she was a communist and wanted to get revenge. She stole The Shoulder Shrug to get even with Hitler.
His words caused her mother to go away, so she’s taking those words back. Liesel stole ironically in The Book Thief because she could not read, and she wanted revenge, which is served best as a cold dish. Liesel faced humiliation to get to her idea of success. She not only learns how to read, but took what she felt was rightfully owned by her. “I have loved words and I have hated them, and I hope I have made them right” (528). Her attraction to words have drawn her to her highlight in life.