The Book Thief Analysis
Takara Taylor 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.
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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 violent aspects of The Book Thief are not even acts of humans but of the reader’s mind. Zusak uses Death to narrate the novel.
Death can be thought of as a very violent being and people often associate it with maliciousness. The animated coloring plays to a reader’s familiarity of certain colors and what they represent to create a more vehement image. In the chapter titled “Beside the Railway Line”, Death states that something is blinding white when Liesel’s brother dies. It could possibly be comparing the white snow with the cold of death. There is also repeated mention of the colors of Rudy’s hair and Hans’ eyes. Rudy’s hair is described as being “lemon yellow”.
Humanity mostly affiliates the color yellow with happiness, memory, communication, youthfulness and carelessness. But in The Book Thief it is twisted into a grim style. In the novel, Rudy is very happy and he cherishes his youth. When he dies, Liesel remembers the kiss he kept asking for and the mean things she would say to him and it causes great pain for her. Death almost always explains the way a person is when it comes for them. He says that Hans’ silver eyes were open and that Hans’ came peacefully. Silver is often correlated with love and peace.
Only because Liesel loved Hans so much, is that why the silver of his eyes are so very important. Death gives a tranquil atmosphere to the violence it concocts. Readers become comfortable with Death the idea of it and frequently miss the gesture of violence. Understanding great works of literature can be fairly difficult without the knowledge of analyzing them. How to Read Literature like a Professor helps a reader to obtain the proper ability for analytically breaking down novels and other works of literature.
Applying chapters of How to Read Literature like a Professor aided in interpreting certain symbols and making sense of the significance of things presented in The Book Thief. Having applied chapters two and eleven from Foster’s How to Read Literature like a Professor to The Book Thief, I better understand the use of Rosa Hubermann’s pea soup and the implication of Death narrating the novel. It warms the reader up to the idea of death by familiarizing them and making them feel comfortable with Death. Death may be haunted by humans, but readers are certainly haunted by symbols.