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What Techniques Does Markus Zusak Use To Explore His Ideas In The Book Thief?

996 words - 4 pages

Set in Nazi Germany The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak, mirrors the discordant reality of this era. The narrative follows the life of orphaned Liesel Meminger and explores the ways in which she remains alive throughout this harsh regime. Zusak expresses the ideas of the power of words, mortality, and inhumanity through the potent literary techniques of symbolism, incorporating visual elements, and employing Death as the narrator. Zusak’s ability to portray these ideas effectively allows the audience to feel connected with the story and its characters.

Zusak incorporates symbolism within his novel The Book Thief to delineate the power of words. The symbolism of books reveals the undermining power that words possess. Within the novel, the reader is exposed to such power at the book burning; when it is communicated that ”People may tell you that Nazi Germany was built on anti-Semitism, a somewhat overzealous leader and a nation of hate-fed bigots… Germans not loved one particular activity – to burn”. Zusak presents the books to symbolise wisdom and knowledge, the burning of these ‘censored’ books emphasise Hitler’s desire to steal the knowledge of Jews. Furthermore, books symbolise power; burning these books discreetly shows the power Hitler was so freely taking ownership of. By portraying books in such a way, Zusak positions the reader to feel hatred towards the Nazis and in particular Hitler who was stealing this knowledge so publically. Similarly, the power of words is demonstrated through Liesel stealing books. By these actions she is preserving knowledge, Zusak portrays this by expressing "Stealing it, on the other hand, seemed a little more acceptable. Stealing it, in a sick kind of sense was like earning it." This book stealing expands, assisted by the mayor’s wife who gives Liesel access to her library, and in this way she improves her literary and demonstrates her defiance to the regime. For the reader, this sly resistance allows a sense of great admiration towards Liesel. Zusak effectively uses the symbolism of books to describe the power that words have.

Zusak adds visual elements into The Book Thief to explore the ideas of mortality. By embodying visual drawings and sketches, the reader is given the ability to visualise a range of ideas. The drawings are sketched by Max for Liesel with the first image showing people admiring Hitler as he is set on a podium, portraying him as a strong and powerful leader. For the reader this shows the idolisation of Hitler by the German population however, when turning to the next page, the reader is shown a morphed and twisted pile of dead bodies, symbolising a mountain with two people, perceived as Max and Liesel, standing on top of the detestable stack. A speech bubble reads out the words “Isn’t it a lovely day…” and the shining sun is centered with the Nazi symbol. In doing this, Zusak has enabled the reader to see the image as a children’s playground, however the larger image illustrates the...

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