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Symbolism In The Book Theif Essay

936 words - 4 pages


" 'They [fallen dominos] look like dead bodies' "(Zusak 410). Noticed Kurt from Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Kurt was using the dominos to symbolize something other than what the eyes see, the front cover of the book utilizes this technique as well. Within just the one picture on the front cover lies a whole new understanding of the book. The front cover of the book explains, shows, and foreshadows events in the book. The cover of The Book Thief holds symbolism in the way you see the dominos, the pushing over of the dominos, and even the title of the book.

A title of a book gives you an idea of what that book is about, The Book Thief is no different except that it tells you other things as well. The way the title is presented, it looks like it was painted onto the book. The book thief, Liesel, uses paint as she learns how to read. This is instrumental in the book because without Liesel's love of words there would not be a story. Zusak writes, "The scrawled words of practice stood magnificently on the wall by the stairs, jagged and childlike and sweet. They looked on as both the hidden jew and the girl slept, hand to shoulder"(241). The "painted-on look" of the title connects Max Vandenburg, the hidden Jew, who also used paint (to cover up Hitler's worlds). The narrator describes it, "There were the erased pages of Mein Kampf gagging, suffocating under the paint as they turned" (Zusak 237). Besides the look of the title, the color also suggests another aspect of these characters. The bold white is the color of purity and innocence ("Color White"). A pure Jew who has done nothing to deserve his discrimination and an innocent girl with a love of words shine bright in the book, just as the title stands out on the cover.

The title is only a small part of the big picture, literally. In the picture you see dominos. Not only do they start out with a few twists and then straighten out but they also go from clear to blurry and light to dark. The shape of the dominos show how events in the book happen quickly and suddenly at first(the twists in the dominos) but as the story goes along, events become more consistent and they take time to unfold (the straight line of dominos). The way the dominos are focused in the picture is symbolic to how humanity can predict what may happen in the near future, but the farther away from the present, the harder it is to guess what may happen. Along with the focus, there is also harsh lighting which makes the dominos appear to be going from light to dark. This is no coincidence. Light is often synonymous with overpowering emotion...

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