The Book Thief The Fear Transformed to Compassion for Death Through the Novel
The Book Thief - By Markus Zusak • A majority of civilization see death as the eternal end, creating a worldly fear. • Through the novel, that fear is transformed into compassion through the use of: • Diction • Imagery • Symbolic Gestures. • We see this through Death as he watches over the young German girl, Liesel.
Diction • We are uneasy about Death at first as the novel doesn’t start well for him, we are bluntly told: “Here is a small fact – You are going to die”, as we fear the harsh reality of the afterlife, Resulting in Death feeling wrongly accused. • We are then juxtaposed with a different view: “I am not violent. I am not malicious. I am a result”. It is not Death who kills…
Diction(continued) • We see Death’s devotion to Liesel as she connects with the Jew, Max. -“I readied myself to insert my hands through the blankets. Then there was resurgence – an immense struggle against my weight. I withdrew… It was nice to be fought off in that dark little room”. • Death finds relief/a glimmer of light in Max’s fight as he worries about how Liesel would manage with another death of a loved one. • Death can = Considerate and Caring.
“With so much work ahead of me…” • Death now had to face the concentration camps to clean up Hitler’s dirty work. • Death had to collect the souls of which he respected as he connected with the Jews as they were both wrongly accused. - I also picked them up from the bottom of the great cliff… their escapes fell awfully awry… still , it was better then the gas” • “Some of them I caught when they were only half way down. Saved you, I’d think”. • Death’s dictions shows us how much he cares for those he is “saving”.
Imagery - We are shown Deaths peaceful side and his struggle to capture it on the first page-“first the colors. Then the humans, that’s usually how I see things. Or at least try.” • “A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors… In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them”. • The Thousand colors are the souls of the dead he collects everyday, and the peaceful side to death as they are released into the sky. • Death prefers the beauty of the colors compared to the depression of the dead.
Liesel’s Colours • The first time Death meets Liesel is next to the train tracks where her brother would buried. He sees the colour “white”. Usually the color of innocents, peace, light. Not in this case… • The “white” represents the emotions of Liesel after her brothers death, numb and heavy and the sheild she uses to cover her pain. The ending of one life and the new beginning of another
When Liesel met Max, Things changed. -”grey and gleaming, but it was dirty colored light that was permitted entrance… If you’re optimistic think of it as bronze”. • This is Liesel letting down her guard and letting herself feel the warmth again after living with that cold, white fear of that pain of loss after her brother passed on. • Deaths sense of colors/imagery gives him kind attributes and creates that compassion.
Symbolic Gestures • Liesel’s new Family is killed when Himmel street is bombed. • Liesel only lives as she was in her basement writing her life story, her own copy of “The Book Thief”. -The rescuing hands pulled Liesel out and brushed the crumbs of rubble from her clothes. What they didn’t notice was that girl was still holding a book….. The words that saved her life”. • Death knows that Liesel’s words saved her life, it was her safety net, keeping her alive. Liesel is left grasping onto those words that saved her as they are the only remains of her life.
- Liesel's book “ was stepped on several times… eventually it was thrown aboard a garbage truck… I climbed quickly up and took it in my hand”. - the book was tossed aside, as if it had no meaning. • Death cares for Liesel’s life and takes care of it the only way he could. This is Death’s symbolic gesture, holding onto the book and keeping her life safe.. • When Liesel dies of old age many years later she encounters Death for the very last time, this time she can see him too. - Death “ pulled a dusty old black book from his pocket” ,Death then doesn't no what to say to Liesel, All he can manage is, “I am haunted by Humans”. Death is overburdened as he encounters far to much Death. We then feel guilty for Death as now we are equals.
We Haunt Death… • To conclude… Through reading this novel we are made to feel that emotion of compassion towards death, because of his devotion, diction and his respect that he truly deserves as he too lives with a fear as we do, a fear of unknown of what is to happen next.