The Book Thief
Zusak’s Death Breaks the Mould
In The Book Thief, Zusak expounds upon the concept of death as a passive force and not a vengeful creature. Zusak presents the character Death in a manner that is more effectively conceived than the traditional rendition of Death’s personae. This unconventional characterization is validated by the realization that dying is a natural occurrence whereby Zusak’s Death does not hunt, but merely collects souls whose times have run out.
Zusak first touches upon the topic of human demise when Death states in the beginning of The Book Thief “A small fact: You are going to die” (3). Almost immediately upon opening the book, the reader sees that Death is the narrator, and they are surrounded with an aura of distress. However, the character of Death quickly proves not to be as cruel and heartless as his scythe-wielding counterpart. Death states that he is “not malicious. I am not violent. I am a result.” (6). Zusak’s Death does not methodically or whimsically reap the souls of the miscellaneous peoples he happens to come across. Rather, he approaches the souls when the time is appropriate and unavoidable, and leaves behind the souls’ survivors with an apologetic air. When presented in this benign, passive manner, and not as a hunter or malefactor, the character Death effectively mimics the actuality of dying.
The character Death also does not choose the time, place, or manner in which a person dies. Instead, he is merely a means of collection and transportation for the souls. There are multiple instances in The Book Thief when Death questions the way a person’s life has ended.
One example of this is when Death refers to the passing of a young German boy named Rudy. On page 241, Death makes a side note in the text, saying “A Small Announcement About Rudy Steiner: He didn’t deserve to die the way he did.” This selection brings multiple subjects into question, one of which is the matter of emotions. By saying that Rudy died unjustly, Death implies that he believes Rudy deserved better, which, in turn, leads the reader to conclude that Death cared about the fate of this little boy. There are also numerous references to Death questioning the cruelties bestowed upon the vast amounts of Jewish souls he carries in his arms, and there are a few times he questions the point of the reckless killings that make him terribly busy. Also, it appears that people died whom Death would have preferred to have live. He asks, “Did they deserve any better, these people? How many had actively persecuted others, high on the scent of Hitler’s gaze, repeating his sentences, his paragraphs, his opus? Was Rosa Hubermann responsible? The hider of a Jew? Or Hans? Did they all deserve to die? The children?” (375). Death’s questions express the uncertainty he faces while performing his job, as well as his innocence concerning the actual deaths of the people whose souls he collects. He questions the necessity of the blameless’ demise with a hint of sorrow. This disquiet proves that Death is neither malicious nor violent, just as he claims earlier in the book. The traditional rendition of death personified involves malicious intent and cruelty. In keeping with unconventional characterization, however, Zusak’s Death shies away from the gore and pain he is commonly associated with.
In conclusion, Zusak’s representation of Death is more effectively perceivable due to Death’s empathetic appearance as a bystander and not a destructive hunter, out to destroy mankind. Portraying Death as an emotive creature who is riddled with regrets opens the doorway for readers to explore the notion of Death standing in the contradictory position of a “humane monster”. By making Death appear more human in nature, Zusak allows his readers to feel as if they can relate to Death and his emotions – a skill which not only brings a clearer image of Zusak’s rendition of Death to mind, but allows readers to form attachments to a creature so often viewed as cruel.
Main Events In The Book Thief Novel
Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is a story about family. Liesel Meminger loses her first family, her brother dying and her parents giving her away. Her second family is the Hubermanns, Hans and Rosa. Partway through the story, Max Vandenburg also joins the family. Throughout the story, Liesel trusts her family more and more, and learns to read with Hans. She writes books with Max, and even understands Rosa a bit more.
In the first chapter, Liesel steals her first book, The Grave-Digger’s Handbook. She doesn’t know how to read it at first, but eventually opens up to Hans and they read it together. Together they read, play accordion, and roll cigarettes for Hans to smoke. And even when Liesel goes to school, she still reads at night with Hans. When Hans gets tired of re-reading The Grave-Digger’s Handbook, he trades some of the cigarettes that he and Liesel rolled for more books to read. Hans is the one who picks Liesel up from her mandatory Hitler Youth programs, walking home with her in the silence that he knows she needs. Hans is always there for Liesel, as a father and a friend.
Max Vandenburg is the Jewish man who lives in the basement. When Liesel first meets him, she says that his hair looks like feathers. Repeating her words as he works, Max takes pages from Mein Kamphf and paints them over with white paint before creating his own story to give to Liesel. He writes The Standover Man, talking about how his father was the first one who watched him as he slept and now it was a girl. On the last few pages, he writes about how Liesel said his hair looked like feathers, and how he hopes that they can be friends. He presents the book to Liesel for a birthday present, and begins a friendship.
Even Rosa Hubermann, who at first seems mean, becomes like family to Liesel. When Max falls ill, Liesel wants to sit and watch him as he sleeps to know when he will wake up. Rosa reminds Liesel that staying home from school would draw suspicion, and Liesel reluctantly goes to school after Rosa promises to get her when Max wakes up. When Max does wake up, Rosa honors her promise to Liesel and pulls her out of school by pretending to yell at her so that it wouldn’t be suspicious. At the end of the book, Death says about Rosa “Make no mistake, the woman had a heart. She had a bigger heart than people would think. There was a lot in it, stored up, high in miles of hidden shelving… She was a Jew feeder without a question in the world on a man’s first night in Molching. And she was an arm reacher, deep into a mattress, to deliver a sketchbook to a teenage girl.” (Zusak 532)
At the end of the book, a bomb is dropped on Himmel Street and the Hubermanns along with many of Liesel’s friends are killed. Liesel survives, along with Max, and now must face being without her family. This book tells the story of a girl who found her true family, before having them ripped away from her. Even Death, the narrator of the story, seems to regret that he is taking Hans and Rosa away from Liesel.
Analysis Of The Book Thief Novel
In Section II, Liesel moves in with Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who are her foster parents. Rosa is abrasive and abusive, but Hans acts as a true father to her (the only one she’s known). When she has nightmares in the middle of the night, he comes in and comforts her, eventually teaching her to read the gravedigger’s book. She also meets her best friend, Rudy, and begins attending school. She has difficulty reading, initially, as she has never learned before, but Hans, though a poor reader himself, teaches her. She also steals her first and second books — the first book being the gravedigger’s book, and the second being the book she steals from the flames at the Hitler Youth bonfire.
On page 58, the Jesse Owens Incident — when Rudy Steiner covers himself in black charcoal and performs the 100 meter dash — is described in detail. When his father catches him and asks him what he is doing, he explains matter-of-factly that he is being Jesse Owens. This reminded me of an incident from my little sister’s childhood. One day, she was out in the yard playing, and she said to my stepmom, “I’m a dog. I pee in the grass.” Sure enough, that is exactly what she was doing. The aspects of real life that children choose to imitate in their make-believe are often zany: Rudy didn’t feel that it was enough for him to simply run 100 meters to be Jesse Owens; he also had to be black. My sister couldn’t simply crawl on all fours or bark to be a dog; she also had to mark her territory.
What is the incident relating to the accordion that prevents Hans Hubermann from joining the Nazi party? Death mentions that a man related to the accordion will come later, bringing with him many stories. Was the man who taught Hans to play the accordion Jewish? Does Hans feel that he owes something to the Jews?
“‘No, Rudy.’ Mr. Steiner was steering the bike with one hand and Rudy with the other. He was having trouble steering the conversation” (page 60). I have thoroughly enjoyed Zusak’s writing style overall in the first and second parts of the novel, with his unique diction and wide range of personification (which compliments the personification of Death as a narrator quite nicely). However, my favorite literary device usage of his thus far has been his use of zeugmas, as illustrated in the quote above. Additionally, this incompleteness in Mr. Steiner’s control over his circumstances, especially those pertaining to his son, seems to foreshadow an inability to control Rudy in the future, as well as drawing attention fact that Mr. Steiner is an orderly man, but he cannot order everything.
“The book thief” book review
It was a snowy night when Liesel Meminger (the book thief) and her brother Werner which is six years old, were travelling with their mother by train to the town Munich. This town is where Liesel and her brother will be given over into the foster care system. While on the train ride, Liesel has a dream about adolf hitler. He is speaking at a rally, and smiles at Liesel. She greets him in broken german, but before he can respond she awakens from her dream. As their mother is asleep, Werner dies, and Death takes his spirit away. The trains stops, and they exit the train. Two guards from the train argue over what they should do with Werner’s dead body. Two days later his body is buried by gravediggers. Liesel digs at her brothers grave, but is carried away by her mother. And before Liesel gets back onto the train, leading to her new home in the foster care, she steals a black book from the cemetery grounds.
In Munich, Liesel is given to the foster care authorities. She is driven to Himmel street, which is heaven in german. This city is where her foster parents live. Her foster parents’ names are Rosa Huberman and Hans Hubermann. The women is described as squat with a short temper. Her husband, Hans, is a tall quiet man who rolls his own cigarettes. Liesel refuses to get out of the car when she first gets to the house, but Hans eventually persuades her to leave. While liesel refuses to leave the car, a crowd gathers at the other side of the street. They stand and watch the scene before Rosa curses them out and tells them to mind their own business. Liesel has only brought with her only a small suitcase containing clothes, and the book she stole from the cemetery grounds: The Grave Diggers Handbook. Death says Liesel will steal many books, and will be made two by a hidden Jew. When Liesel arrives at her new home, she is very malnourished. Her birth father was a communist- but she doesn’t really understand what that entails.
Liesel feels as though her mother has abandoned her, but she understands that she is being saved from poverty and that her mother only did this to help her. In the book, Rosa is described as loving Liesel, while a the same time being very harsh towards her. She is constantly shouting swear words at Liesel, and she even called her a pig one time for not taking a bath. Hans treats Liesel a lot kinder though. He is a house painter and accordian player.
He teaches Liesel how to roll a cigarette. As time goes on Liesel begins to not call her foster parents by their names, but instead she refers to them as Mama and Papa. For the first couple of months living with her new parents, Liesel has nightmares about her brother all the time- almost every night. Her nightmares would cause her to wet the bed.
The War From The View Of Both A Survivor And Victim In “The Book Thief”
The Book Thief is a film adaptation of the book of the same name, depicting World War II. Throughout the film, “Death” narrates the story of Liesel Meminger, a survivor of World War II. It begins with Paula Meminger travelling with her children to their new foster home. On the journey to Molching, Werner, Liesel’s brother dies. Soon after, Liesel begins to adjust to her new parents – Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She also becomes friends with Rudy Steiner. Liesel spends four years with the Hubermanns before the town of Molching is bombed by the Allies. This causes most of the townsfolk to die along with Liesel’s loved ones. The Book Thief is a genuine portrayal of life during World War II and the effects of the war on civilians. It focuses on one of the most significant points, that all German civilians were not accepting of Nazi Germany and did not blindly follow the rules. It provides us with enough information to truly understand the lives of both the survivors and victims of the war. To sum it up, the purpose of this project is to understand the events of the war from the view of both a survivor and victim, along with the effects it had on them.
In 1939, Paula Meminger finds a couple who agree to adopt Liesel and her brother, Werner, in order to protect them. During the journey to Molching, where the foster family lives, Werner dies of pneumonia. This indicates the family’s poverty as many impoverished people died of diseases due to the inability to pay for health services. Paula was then most probably sent to a concentration camp. The death of her brother and Liesel’s separation from her mother marks the beginning of many such devastating events. We find that she expresses her misery by often looking at the picture of her brother she keeps with her all the time, along with writing letters to Paula frequently. Around this time, Hitler had invaded Poland in September 1939, which proved to be an immediate cause for the war. While France and Britain gave Germany an ultimatum, Germany attacked France. Finally, Britain and France declared war on Germany.
The period between September 1939 and April 1940 remained peaceful as there was very little fighting during this time. The film also gives us a glimpse of one of the turning points of the Holocaust – Kristallnacht, “The Night of the Broken Glass”. Police officers and Hitler Youth ransacked Jewish businesses. Along with that, they beat and killed Jews inside. The film then gives us a glance at Max Vandenburg and his mother, who he soon had to, unfortunately, leave in order to protect himself. The 50th birthday of Adolf Hitler on 20th April was celebrated as a national holiday throughout Nazi Germany and other parts of the world. On the day of Hitler’s birthday, the townsfolk of Molching celebrate by burning items that were considered “anti-Germany”. Some of these burnings were specifically for books. At the end of the event, Liesel, who was devastated at witnessing the burning of books, finds one that has not been burnt and steals it. Hans soon finds out about Liesel’s stolen book, when she asks him about her mother being a communist. When Hans implies that Hitler might have hurt her mother, Liesel proceeds to say, “I hate the Führer!” Hans alarmedly tells her that she cannot say such things. This was because people who disrespected Hitler were considered to be anti-Germany. They were sent away to concentration camps.
Max Vandenburg, a Jew, comes to live in hiding with the Hubermanns. Liesel’s parents tell her that it was extremely important that she did not tell anyone about him. Max begins to form a friendship with Liesel which eventually lasts a very long time. While some children could live and pass-off as non-Jews, most Jews considered sending their children to German families who would agree to hide them until the war was over. These children posed as non-Jews and had to conceal their Jewish nature thoroughly. This required a great many things, the most important being false identity papers. For Max, this was a hard task, and hence he lived in hiding in the basement of the Hubermanns. In those days, even finding rescuer families was quite difficult. Fortunately for Max, Hans was in his debt as Max’s father had saved his life during World War I.
During this time, air raids began to occur more frequently than usual, causing people to hide in bomb shelters. While in a communal bomb shelter, Liesel reads to the rest of the civilians there. This comforts and soothes them and distracts them from impending horrors. More policemen then begin to search basements in order to find Jews, on the event of which the Hubermanns hide Max under a large Confederate flag in the basement. One day, the policemen arrest a Jewish man, for whom Hans stands up for. This, in turn, proves only to be unfortunate since they push him to the side and take his name. In order to protect the Hubermanns, Max leaves. Soon, Hans receives a letter telling him that he has been conscripted into the army and must leave immediately. This proves to be increasingly agonizing for Rosa and Liesel. During this time, many men were obliged to spend a certain period of time in the military. During Hans’ absence, Liesel witnesses Jews walking to the concentration camp while people watched them as if it was a parade. She then finds herself seeing Max among these people and screams for him, only to be thrown on the sidewalk. These forcible movements of prisoners of Nazi Germany towards or between concentration camps were generally known as death marches.
One night, during the end of the 1943 year, the town of Molching is bombed by the Allies and the air raids do not go off. This causes the death of dozens of civilians. Liesel’s parents, as well as Rudy and his family, are killed in the blast while Liesel herself survives since she was in the basement. She is heartbroken when she sees the corpses of her parents. German cities and towns were specifically bombed by the Allies in order to destroy munition factories, weapon warehouses and eradicate enemy troops.
Two years after the death of Liesel’s loved ones, she begins working in the tailor shop belonging to Rudy’s father. Max enters the shop and asks for Liesel and they are both overwhelmed with joy when they finally reunite. The beginning of 1945 started with the evacuation of concentration camps such as Auschwitz and resulted in even more death marches. Soon enough, more camps were liberated such as Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Sachsenhausen. May 8 marks VE “Victory in Europe” Day while September 2 marks VJ “Victory over Japan” Day. On September 2, Imperial Japan surrendered after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This, in turn, brought the war to an end.
To sum it up, the film provides us with information about the events taking place during World War II. This includes the oppression of the victims and the lengths they had to go, in order to protect themselves and their families. While some victims survived, some were also sent to concentration camps. We also conclude that many Germans were not accepting of Nazi Germany and also assisted and protected many victims. Besides this, the film also helps one understand the complications faced by both survivors and victims of the war from their own point of view. An example of this is that of the main character, Liesel. We are able to understand her sufferings on a personal level. One also becomes familiar with the victims’ hardships, such as Paula Meminger. She had to separate with and send her children to a foster family in order to protect them. Another significant example was Max Vandenburg, a Jew who had to separate from his mother and went into hiding with the Hubermanns. So to conclude, it can be said that the Book Thief not only helped us to understand the events taking place during World War II but the effect it had on the vast number of survivors and victims. We also get a brief understanding of the development of some characters who witnessed the war firsthand.
Similar Ideas In Stephen Daldry’s Film Billy Elliot and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief
An individual’s transition into new phases of life or social contexts offers an opportunity to grasp renewed perceptions, dictated by experiences that may be confronting for themselves and their formative milieu. Such transitions occur beyond the individual’s comfort zone, where they must overcome both personal and societal boundaries in order to flourish and follow non-conformist aspirations. Stephen Daldry’s Film ‘Billy Elliot’ exemplifies to a profound extent, the hardship one must overcome when challenging archaic paradigms and perspectives in order to transition into new phases of life or social contexts. Correspondingly, Markus Zusak’s Novel The Book Thief highlights the confronting nature of transitioning into new phases of life or social contexts through the protagonist’s experiences. This transition will not be the destination but rather the beginning of a new journey that will reshape the protagonists drastically.
Archaic gender stereotypes act as constraints on opportunities for growth and development. Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot is set in the tightknit community of Durham, England, which embodies traditional gender stereotypes that boys are predestined to do masculine, manly activities and girls should be feminine and petite. The Mise-en-scene of the boxing hall is suggestive of the expectation for boys in the tight-knit community to do something physical and manly. The boxing hall is positioned next to the ballet class which creates a sharp contrast of a ‘male, section and a ‘female’ section. This notion of gender expectations is additionally apparent within billy’s family. Jackie states “boys do football or boxing or wrestling. Not friggen ballet!” A scene emphasising Jackie’s parochialism and highlighting the family constraints imposed on billy. Billy now has the opportunity to conform or to reject societal boundaries that are blocking his path to eventual success. Therefore gender expectations do act as barriers, constraining individual’s transitions into new phases of life or social contexts.
Personal and societal boundaries do not become absent once individuals transition into new phases of life or social contexts. Markus Zusaks novel The Book Thief exemplifies this notion through the protagonist, Liesel, who is faced with an inevitable transition into a new social context at the very beginning of the novel. Liesel is abandoned by her mother and inescapably plunges into the unknown by transitioning to her new foster home in Nazi Germany. Perhaps Liesel’s most significant personal boundary is her inability to read or write evidently seen by deaths contradictive and ironic statement “she was the book thief without words”. Hitler characterises Liesel’s new milieu, and imposes significant societal boundaries on Liesel and her ability to gain the power of words. Liesel overcomes this limitation by rejecting social paradigms and Hitler’s rein by stealing the unburnt book from the fire in Town Square, a pivotal moment of rejection in the novel highlighting Liesel’s fearless non-conformist nature. Zusak investigates this notion of rejection during Liesel’s and Han’s walk home “The Book started to burn her. It seemed to be igniting” conveying the physical effects of language. Hans and Liesel’s confluence of rejection, allows her to keep the book, once again proving their non-conformist rejection of cultural identity and Hitler’s rein. Furthermore, the last line of Liesel’s book uses a contradictive tone, to state “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right”. The line conveys Liesel’s realisation of the manipulative power of words and positions the audience to see her language development. Therefore personal and societal boundaries remain existent and continue to impose obstacles once individual transitions into a new phase of life or social context.
Personal qualities can act as the driving force to experience profound transitions into new phases of life or social contexts towards an unlikely success. This notion is explored throughout Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot through the protagonist billy, and his journey of transitioning into a new phase of life. Billy’s courageous non-conformist nature encompasses his willingness to reject the traditional views and stereotypes of Durham in order to achieve self-expression. This courageous personal quality is highlighted in billy’s short truncated statement “I don’t want a childhood. I want to be a ballet dancer “, emphasising billy’s decision to challenge societal boundaries. Societal boundaries block and interfere with billy’s opportunity for self-expression therefore creating a frustrating challenge for billy to overcome. Billy conveys frustration through dance evident during the soundtrack ‘I danced myself right out the womb’, which suggests billy was predestined to dance and ‘children of a revolution’ foreshadowing billy’s courageous choice to rebel against archaic gender stereotypes. Furthermore, billy display’s unstoppable determination in the humorous scene where billy attempts to master the pirouette in the bathroom. His achievement is symbolic of eventual success foreshadowing later success in the audition and climax of the film. Personal traits are significant factors within transitions and billy’s qualities ultimately drive him towards unlikely, yet eventual success.
Individuals must either conform or reject their milieus paradigms in order to experience transitions into new phases of life or social contexts. Markus Zusaks Novel The Book Thief explores this key decision through the protagonist’s choice to either obey or rebel against Hitler’s hegemonic beliefs and religious persecution of Jews. Hitler’s hegemonic beliefs, values, practices and attitudes display religious prejudice towards Jews by sending Nazi’s to hunt them down for persecution. Death’s contextual comment, “when a Jew shows up at your place of residence in the early hours of the morning, in the very birthplace of Nazism, you’re likely to experience extreme levels of discomfort” exaggerates the dehumanized environment in which Jews existed. Rosa and Hans reject Hitler’s rein by allowing Max Vandenburg, a Jew, to hide from persecution in their basement. Once found Hans was sent to war as punishment for hiding Max in his basement and rejecting Hitler’s rein. Consequently Han’s took the inevitable leap into a harsh new phase of life and is irrevocably changed by his transition when he returns to Munich. Therefore individual’s choice to conform or reject social norms, does in fact dictate transitions into new phases of life or social contexts to occur.
Catalysts influence transitions into new phases of life or social contexts by either triggering or accelerating change to occur in individual’s lives. Stephen Daldry’s Film Billy Elliot explores the consequences of catalysts and their influence over individual’s transitions into new phases of life or social contexts. Billy’s first discovery of the juxtaposed ballet class with the boxing ring creates a catalyst for change in billy’s life since it presented a moral dilemma of choice to either conform or reject gender expectations. In addition, Mrs Wilkinson acts as a motherly figure, mentor and role model for billy, catalysing his transition into a new phase of life. Mrs Wilkinson challenges billy and the status quo of society, when she advises “Go on, I dare ya’ with the use of pejorative colloquialism. She is symbolically daring billy to take the ballet shoes and challenge societal restraints. In addition, the harmonious implementation of intersexuality through the use of Swan Lake foreshadows billy’s future and positions the audience to view how billy made an unlikely dream, a reality. During the climax of the film, at the audition, billy shares a glimmer of passion through the use of zoomorphism. Billy expresses his feelings whilst dancing “Just there, flying, like a bird”, acting as a symbolic catalyst since these words transition billy into a new phase of life by granting him acceptance into the royal ballet school. Therefore, transitions into new phases of life or social contexts may be prompted or enhanced through the influence of catalysts.
An individual’s transition into new phase of life or social context is sparked by experiences that may be confronting for themselves and their formative milieu. Both, Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot and Markus Zusaks novel The Book Thief explores the transition of individuals into new phases of life and new social contexts through the protagonists journey beyond their comfort zone. Wether the individuals transition permanently or temporarily, the individual will be permanently transformed on a physical, emotional and/or psychological level.
A Topic Of Mentorship In The Mosquito Coast By Paul Theroux And The Book Thief By Markus Zusak
Mentors often assert their dominance over individuals and teach them the morals required to live in society. Through experience and wisdom, these mentors are responsible for changing the course of an individual’s life. These individuals adapt to society and can comfortably live a good life, making mentors obsolete. This is evident in the novel The Mosquito Coast, written by Paul Theroux which depicts a father’s continuous fear of nuclear invasion by an irate, immoral country. He plans to establish a utopian society of his own design. He describes humanity as “mean, they’re cruel, they’re fake, they always pretend to be something they’re not. They’re weak. They take advantage. They’ll be lonely out there. They’ll be scared. Because the world stinks.” His son, Charley, is naive and believes his father is the most brilliant man on earth. Along the way, his father’s continual sheltering from the evils of everyday life are significant because he strictly forbids the same mental mind which he held when he was small. Similarly, the book The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak the theme of death as it illustrates a young girl named Liesel Meminger experiencing many hardships in her personal life. The story emphasizes on a nine-year-old girl named Liesel being able to overcome many tragedies and gaining strength while being adopted by the Hubermanns in Molching, Germany. Her passion for literature is unquestionably huge and she has many mentors who teach her how to live in society, read books, etc. Both the novels show significant aspects as to how mentors can alter the life of an individual. Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief depicts show how mentors must transition to obsolescence for the apprentice to progress meaning that for an individual to grow, their mentor must develop the right relationship and allow him/her to seek their potential.
Early lessons for an apprentice to sit down and listen become confusing and causes an unmeaningful relation between both apprentice and mentor. However, for the apprentice to progress in the beginning, recognition is a key element for mentoring to initiate. The mentor must be able to alter the way the apprentice thinks for anything to begin with. In the novel, The Mosquito Coast, Allie as a young boy doesn’t go to school as his father believes that “It America is a disgrace”. As he refers to America being a disgrace, he strongly hates the American school system as well. But since Allie has to stay home and learn from his father, Allie was told “he grew up with the belief that the world belonged to him and that everything he said was true”. Starting at a young age, Charlie’s mentor, Allie, started raising Charlie and injecting the belief that the morals taught by his father “said was true.” By having the “world belong to him,” he wants Charlie to recognize the fact that Allie is the right mentor designed for him simply because of the way wants to set up Allie to progress. His parenting style is just one of the aspects that is affected by crazy ideas. But because of this style, it allows Allie to recognize and understand his father’s perspective as this contributes to mentoring itself. Similarly, in The Book Thief, it becomes apparent that Liesel has a bad past as her Mom and brother die. However, when she meets her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubbermann, she instantly realizes not only are they parents, but also personal mentors which introduces to recognizing the right mentor. Liesel’s passion for literature becomes evident since the train ride. Although she doesn’t know how to read in the beginning, Hans reads her a book every night. Throughout the times, Liesel starts to “observe the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, when seeing those eyes understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot”. Recognition is essential for having the right relation and further progress in mentoring. Between Liesel and Hans, recognition is rightfully achieved because the relation itself isn’t just parent-child. It is portraying that “those eyes understood that Hans was worth a lot” meaning he wasn’t just a normal father, yet a personal mentor. When she would read with Hans, her knowledge would expand because of the new words she learned every night.
Between the two novels, recognition is the key element for the initial plan to establish a basic relationship, which eventually leads to a good mentor to further become obsolete. For mentors to become obsolete in the end, the initial plan is always planned by the mentor in the beginning to further take action. To establish the initial plan, ‘You need to carefully match the personalities of the mentor and mentee. It’s choosing the mentor who is best positioned to help the mentee achieve the desired outcomes from the mentoring relationship’. By doing so, the role of a good mentor is to allow the apprentice to gain independence and give the capacity to carry on without them. In The Mosquito Coast and The Book Thief, it becomes apparent that both mentors are able to change the perspective of how their apprentices view society. The initial plan is to guide their apprentice to reach their potential. To establish a good relationship, the mentor must alter the way the apprentice thinks and allow him/her to follow the mentor’s beliefs. This further progresses into giving the correct morals to the apprentice and later allow him/her to make personal decisions. These personal decisions portray that the apprentice is slowly approaching independence and their respective mentor becoming obsolete.
Between right and wrong, individuals have two pathways in order to further progress in mentoring. For the apprentice to progress, “Mentee “missteps” are avoidable but require recognition and careful monitoring”. If the apprentice fails multiple times, mentors would always assist them in order to give the capacity for the apprentice to continue without them. Distinguishing between right and wrong is essential to truly define a good mentor. In The Mosquito Coast, Charlie as a young boy learned the rights and wrongs upon his father, Allie. When Allie tries to convince Charlie that he wasn’t involved in killing the three men or barring the door up, he wants Charlie to feel he didn’t commit a tragic mistake. Charlie starts to worry because he panics that he himself is wrong. This made Charlie feel “uncomfortable, and Father’s lie, which was also a blind boast, sickened me and separated me from him’. As an apprentice growing up, Charlie would “follows in everything that his father does and does not question him”. The transition from “follow in everything that his father does” to “separate me from him” becomes obvious that Charlie becoming more independent results in Allie to become obsolete. This transition exemplifies that Charlie has the required knowledge to know what is right and wrong for him and allow him to make more personal choices. Similarly, in The Book Thief, Liesel grows up in Germany not knowing what’s right and wrong. After the Hitler Youth parade, Liesel is lost but eventually is found by her father. Her link between personal and political relation is evident because she is frustrated by Hitler who she thinks is accountable for her Mom and brother’s death. She expresses her frustration by saying “I hate him Hitler. He slapped Liesel Meminger squarely in the face. “Don’t ever say that! You can say that in our house, but never say it on the street, at school, at BDM, never!”. Liesel’s hatred towards Hitler causes her to be slapped by Hans. Rightfully so, Liesel identified that her frustration was wrong and in order for her to never say it again, “he Hans slapped Liesel Meminger squarely in the face.” Liesel herself can’t identify what’s right and wrong so her mentor, Hans, must teach her to never say it outside in public simply to protect her. She realizes that her father is correct because of her hatred expressed towards Hitler. This way, a slap by Hans is essential for him to guide her in the right pathway.
The two protagonists in both novels are similar in several ways. Between right and wrong, both protagonists at a young age are developing and understanding the true meaning between the two contradictions. In The Mosquito Coast, Allie develops into society guided by his father. But when Allie uses his morals learned at a young age, he identifies his father is wrong and feels uncomfortable from the lies told by his father. Similarly, in The Book Thief, Liesel is wrong for expressing hatred towards Hitler. Liesel then further along in the book gets guided rightfully by her father Hans and assists her to teach her the right morals. These two events are parallel because one’s mistake and morals learned all contribute to what is right and what is wrong. Allie identifies wrong in his father and Liesel identities wrong in herself. As the two stories progress, it becomes apparent that both protagonists start to make personal decisions which were once guided by their personal mentors. From the mistakes and mentoring that happened in the beginning, the mentor starts to fade away and eventually become obsolete.
A bad mentor can often ruin a relationship between a mentor and apprentice which results in an ineffective experience for the apprentice. This can be best described as betrayal toward their apprentice. However, “Failure to do so may result in negative effects that can weaken the mentee’s ability to advance”. This was significant in both novels because they portrayed how a bad relationship can lead to a negative outcome. For example, in The Mosquito Coast, Polski was telling Charlie a story about a boy named Spider Mooney who lived with his father and never went to school. Spider would steal, kill, etc. Because of his bad acts, he had to be hand gunned. Before getting killed, he bit off his dad’s ear and said, “That’s for makun me what I am”. At the end of Polski’s story, he wanted Charlie to relate his personal life to his father. Spider’s father was his mentor, guiding him through life obstacles as he grew up. The relationship between the father and Spider was significant because failing to raise Spider portrayed he didn’t learn any morals from the start. Because of his father not teaching him any morals, his father can be looked upon as a bad mentor simply due to an ineffective experience for the apprentice to receive. Likewise, In The Book Thief, Ilsa Hermann is the husband of the mayor in Molching. She’d allow Liesel to take her collections of books from the library so Liesel can gain and expand her knowledge. Liesel takes The Whistler however, she yells at Ilsa for being very arrogant because she fired Rosa Hubbermann. Rosa would do her laundry services but because of the war, she wanted to save money, thus canceling the service and betraying Liesel. Liesel’s choice of words become harsh by saying “You and your husband. Sitting up here. Now she became spiteful. More spiteful and evil than she thought herself capable. The injury of words. Yes, the brutality of words”. Liesel at this moment feels betrayed and although in the beginning she felt Ilsa can be the right mentor for her alongside her father, the use of betrayal causes the overall mentoring experience to be ineffective.
In both novels, the protagonists get furious with their respective mentor because of betrayal. This betrayal negatively affects the individual to grow with the wrong morals. In The Mosquito Coast, Spider is raised but isn’t able to receive the morals from his father for him to become obsolete. The act of not raising Spider effectively didn’t begin with an initial plan. Because of this, Spider felt betrayed that he was forced to get hand gunned and this initially was due to not being taught anything starting from a young age. The wrong mentors often are “not strategically placed, is not well thought, of and/or offers poor guidance”. From little to no guidance, Spider was raised without the right morals. Likewise, The Book Thief illustrates Liesel feels betrayed when she finds out Rosa’s laundry services has been cancelled. This betrayal also causes an ineffective relation between the two individuals because the morals and knowledge that Ilsa gave to her by allowing her to borrow the books were used against her. By this, Liesel’s “injury of words and brutality of words”, became Liesel’s tool to use against Ilsa because of betrayal that was shown to her. Between the two novels, betrayal causes anger and a negative affect while the apprentice grows. The guidance from a good mentor allows the individual to grow, however, the guidance from a bad mentor prevents an effective experience for the apprentice. These two contradictions can heavily reflect on whether or not the mentor has done their job. Not providing their apprentice the capacity to continue without them fails to make the mentor obsolete.
The transition from guiding an apprentice to reaching their own potential is the initial plan that the mentor has planned out. If individuals are willing to have faith and have the utmost trust in their mentors, then the mentor can truly realize and believe they have done their job. However, being able to understand the true desires of an individual is essential in order for them to progress and have the will to continue without their mentors. The mentor is responsible for altering the mind of their apprentice in order to form a basic relationship. Often, the morals taught should allow the apprentice to distinguish between right and wrong in order to make personal choices and being able to leave the mentor behind. On the contrary, a bad mentor is likely to create an ineffective experience for the apprentice to grow. In Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, these novels show that a mentor can only be defined as good if their apprentice no longer needs them. This means that mentors must become obsolete as an individual progresses and potential is reached. It is independence that the apprentice gains in order to continue without their mentors. One’s potential can be reached if the right mentor guides them in the beginning and give the apprentice the capacity to continue without them.
The Book Thief
I found that “The Book Thief” portrayed perfectly one of the greatest casualties of war – the truth. Markus Zusak writes about a young girl – Liesel Meminger – who is initially illiterate, however she realizes the importance and power behind words and stories and she hungers for them. She steals books in an effort to understand and eventually, under the tutelage of Hans Hubermann – her papa – she is able to immerse herself in the new ideas and truths conveyed in these stories.
I believe Liesel Meminger being a book thief is very significant in this context.
During Nazi Germany, Hitler had terrorized and destroyed people and nations with his words, convincing others of his anti-Semitic and anti-communist perspectives, murdering millions of Jews as a result. Throughout the novel Liesel becomes increasingly aware of the effect the Fuhrer’s words had on the war and finally understands that it was in fact the driving force behind the war. In what I believe was an attempt to try and restore understanding of the truth, as Hitler destroyed with his words, Liesel was stealing them back.
In this novel, I believe that the effect of war was quite specific. War had the ability to suppress the truth by providing the people with only one side of the story, and because war is the conflict between peoples this oppression was accepted by those who believed in this side of the story whole heartedly, and forced upon those who were unable to understand any better or those too powerless to do anything if they believed in the contrary. However, Liesel Meminger was able to uncover the truth the war hid and realize the power words could have on a nation.
During Hitler’s dictatorship, propaganda was constantly being released speaking in favour of the Fuhrer’s ideals. The novel shows that these words and stories published in the newspapers were enough to convince a nation to follow Hitler, with few exceptions. For a while in the novel, we are told of Liesel complying with the rules that Hitler had set. “People lined the streets as the youth of Germany marched towards the town hall and the square. On quite a few occasions Liesel forgot about her mother and any other problem of which she currently held ownership. There was a swell in her chest as the people clapped them on.” I feel that in her ignorance, Liesel felt proud to be supporting the ideals of the Fuhrer. She followed the rules because she had been told that Hitler was right in trying to make Germany a ‘better’ nation; this was the only side of the story she had known.
It saddened me when I realized how vulnerable the people were. The children were especially susceptible to being convinced of the horrific ideals that Hitler and the Nazis had enforced upon the nation, as they had not known any other way. The adults would have been too afraid to teach them that what Hitler was doing was wrong, and in doing so they created another generation eager to follow the Fuhrer and his ideals. It only proved to me how malleable the human mind is. It astonishes me that Hitler was able to convince the entire nation proving that he possessed great skill in leadership and dialogue, it makes me wonder what would have happened if he decided to convince the people of a more benevolent cause.
World War II was a tragic event if not the worst case of evil discrimination and violence the world has experienced. However, like everything that happens in history I believe that we should be able to learn something from the war. Liesel discovered the truth that words are able to fuel a war, but perhaps they can be used to cause good as well. This shows me that perhaps we might not need to resort to violence and bloodshed to end the current conflicts; maybe we just need to find the right words. It seems to be too fanciful, but if words had the ability to start a war, it makes me wonder if they also have the power to end one.
The Jew her family was hiding in the basement told a different story to the one Liesel had grown up with. She uncovered the horrors of what was really happening in the country when she accidentally looked in one of the pages of the story Max was creating. On it was a picture of two Germans standing on a mountain of bodies, commenting: “Isn’t it a lovely day,” with the sun represented as the swastika in the corner of the page. Liesel was shocked to discover this other perspective. Perhaps she hadn’t realized the true horror of what was happening, but that day she uncovered the truth. Liesel was beginning to understand that perhaps Hitler’s way wasn’t the right way.
I recognized that it was through Max’s words that she was able to see thehorrors that the Jews were experiencing. Through Max’s story she had discovered the truth – just because the status quo is accepted by everybody doesn’t mean it is necessarily right, it depends on which ‘side’ you are on and the stories you are being told. Liesel realized that people had the ability to be incredibly cruel and brutal and in a way, I believe she lost her innocence. She was only beginning to truly comprehend the capacity people have for great destruction. She saw that people were able to stand on a mountain of corpses and still claim it to be a lovely day. “Holy Christ, you scared me Max.”
I find that the state of ignorance that Liesel was in during the first parts of the novel can be mirrored in present situations. Liesel wasn’t able to believe that the ideas of he Fuhrer were wrong because she was in an environment where everybody supported these ideals. I found parallels of these circumstances in an article that I had recently read, called “I am a North Korean Defector.” It spoke of a young woman who had escaped North Korea because she knew she had no future there. She spoke of how she believed their dictator – Kim Jung Il – to be a God. Although they are not in war as Liesel was, ‘The Book Thief’ helped me realize the power propaganda and stories can have on people. That this power of words wasn’t fictional, limited to the novel alone.
It made me reflect on the fact that this woman had only believed that Kim Jung Il was a God because this is what she had been told her entire life. The dictator’s stories and words had cloaked the truth of this brutality. The people of North Korea face injustices everyday – with a lack of health care, electricity shortages and anybody who spoke against the dictator had a right to fear for their lives. Despite knowing and experiencing all of this they still worshipped the man, all because of the stories they had been told. I believe we can learn something from Liesel’s experiences. We must strive to tell the people of North Korea the other side to their story. Before yet another war breaks put, I believe we must find a way to convince them that their dictator is not a God, and that not everything he says is right. For if he tells them to fight for him in a war, I believe they will obey their ‘God.’ Liesel taught me that words have the power to create a war, why shouldn’t they have the power to prevent another one?
Nearing the end of the novel, we are told that Liesel sits in the library of the mayor’s wife after breaking and entering. This was where she had stolen most of her books. In this library she reflects on everything that had happened as a result of the war: “She had seen her brother die with on eye open, one still in a dream. A young man hung by a rope made of Stalingrad snow. She had watched the bomber pilot lie in a metal case. She had seen a Jewish man who had twice given her the most beautiful pages of her life marched to the concentration camp.” In her sadness, anger and frustration she tore pages from the book she had taken off the shelf of the library. I believe that this shows the moment when Liesel finally saw the truth.
The words she had read in all the books, especially the ones Max wrote, told her of the horrors that was the war. She knew that she had the war to blame for all the sadness that she had to experience throughout. As she ripped the book apart, I believe this shows that she was wishing she never read the words that showed her this truth. I believe that maybe she would have preferred to stay ignorant, believing that these things happened for no reason, rather than a person who forced the world to follow his ideals or face the consequences, because a person shouldn’t be capable of doing these things.
In the end of the novel, we are told that Liesel Meminger writes her own story recording the various events she had experienced and the lessons she had learned. We also learn that she called this story “The Book Thief.” It was then that I realized that the novel that I had been reading, was in fact the story that Liesel had written, only it was told in Death’s perspective instead of Liesel’s. This further convinced me of the effect war had on a person. It made Liesel discover the truth behind the power words held, and once she fully understood what had happened, once she had gained full perspectives on both sides of the story, she was able to write her own side. Through reading Liesel’s story I was able to learn that truth was one of the greatest effects of war. The war showed Liesel the truth behind the power of words. She was able to learn that the Jews weren’t a parasite that they needed to get rid of, but that people only thought this way because that is what they were told.
Importance of Tolerance
In the society that I have been raised in, I have always been taught to be accepting of others and not pass judgment on their race, culture or religion. I was told to leave my prejudice at home. In other societies, has this been the case as well? Through the close analysis and reading of four texts, I believe that this wasn’t the case and that intolerance and prejudicial attitudes were common. The four texts that I have chosen that show this is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
These texts have made the themes of intolerance and prejudice apparent and have also shown myself and other readers why it is important to have tolerance within a community, without prejudicial attitudes. In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Lee explores the importance of tolerance through the character of Miss Maudie.
Miss Maudie says, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” The Mockingbird is like an innocent person, it doesn’t harm anyone. The author wants to show the reader that people who hurt or judge peaceful creatures show their lack of tolerance and compassion for humanity. The Mockingbird is an appropriate symbol for both Tom and Boo, they are both innocent, harmless creatures but have been subjected to false accusations from the community. Miss Maudie, like Atticus, believes that it is essential to accept people as they are. Judging people through prejudice eyes only marginalizes vulnerable individuals, creating a divided community. The close relationship between lack of tolerance and racism is shown by Tom’s trial.
Harper Lee has effectively communicated the intolerance throughout the novel, mainly through the people of Maycomb. They believe Tom is guilty, without giving him a second look. This is based on the setting of the book which was during the 1940’s and as in The Help, white citizens blamed everything on coloured people, and believed that no one who was coloured would be innocent of crimes. The lack of tolerance and racial division in the community is similar to The Help by Kathryn Stockett, where the importance of tolerance is shown through the character of Skeeter. Skeeter says “I am neither thrilled nor disappointed by the news that they might let a coloured man into Ole Miss, just surprised.” Skeeter is a white woman and most women of the time would be offended that a coloured man would even be considered entrance to university.
In contrast with To Kill A Mockingbird, Stockett is communicating that coloured people are innocent and there is nothing wrong with them, much to another character Hilly’s beliefs that they have “diseases.” The author wants readers to think deep into tolerance in this time and how many coloured people were discriminated on purely because they were different and how White supremacists thought coloured people would hurt or harm them, because they were different and like many did towards Tom and Boo in To Kill A Mockingbird, many did this towards the maids in The Help. These two texts relate as both Harper Lee and Kathryn Stockett have both established very intolerant divided communities, and this consequently makes the reader think more into their society.
Do we discriminate against races such as those from Asia because they have trouble speaking English? This text also intensifies the already questions within the readers minds about the people of that time and readers then compare the people in To Kill A Mockingbird and The Help to themselves. Are we fully tolerant of the differences in our bicultural environment? The lack of tolerance of individuals is established on not only a fictional level but also a historical level in The Book Thief. Through the narration of Death, we learn about tolerance and how one character, Hans Hubermann shows his tolerance of others. It is also through Death’s narration that we learn those who are intolerant of the Jewish race, such as the Nazi Party. What is very important to note is that Hans is German, and the Book Thief is set in the period of Nazism, and as history tells us, men such as Hans would despise Jews and believe all of Hitler’s anti-Semitism policies, and in general would be very intolerant of those who are not the “pure race.”
Death says “In 1933, 90 percent of German’s showed unflinching support for Adolf Hitler. That leaves ten percent that didn’t. Hans Hubermann belonged to that ten percent.” The reason Zusak has chosen to use these words is to establish Hans as a character- who he is and how he is tolerant. Hans immediately connects with Miss Maudie and Skeeter as all three are people who we would expect to be intolerant but all share the same value: that everyone is the same and should be treated equally. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne also communicates how important tolerance is within a community. This text centres on a woman who was convicted of adultery, and the text is set in Puritan times. This text is particularly important as it is not relevant to today’s society, as the three other texts are. The prejudice and intolerance towards a woman who committed adultery would be different in the 21st century. This is shown as the main character Hester Prynne was forced away from her loved ones when her sin came to light.
She was a member of “as befitted a people amongst whom religion and law were almost identical…that the mildest and the severest acts of public discipline were alike made venerable and awful”. The community of her time was very highly based upon religion which is yet again, much like racism and intolerance, is not as common in today’s society. The circumstances that take place with Hester in the novel are not applicable today. In today’s society, we have more of an open society in which one is given more support from their family, government and the community in general when placed in a position such as Hester’s. We realize that adultery is a common occurrence and, therefore, the authority does not place punishment upon adulteresses. This connects strongly with the three other texts as people are more accepting of others in today’s society- we accept coloured people. The United States president is a coloured man, so we also respect them. We look back at German history and feel remorse for the Jewish race, as we learn they did nothing.
They were simply scapegoats. I strongly believe that over the time that the novels are set in, society has changed its values on prejudicial attitudes and as a whole, society is far more tolerant than ever before. After reading my texts and thinking more laterally about them, I strongly believe that today’s society has changed in a big way. These four texts have shown readers how society used to be and although they are merely fiction, they communicate real ideas. In both To Kill A Mockingbird, we think of America in the 1950’s and the racial disparities and the prejudice and intolerance that people such as Boo, Tom and Aibileen would have faced.
Markus Zusak takes us straight back to Hitler’s autocratic fascist reign in The Book Thief and we learn even more about intolerance attitudes, but also learn about tolerant characters like Hans, and like Miss Maudie in To Kill A Mockingbird. In the final book, The Scarlet Letter, we see yet again how society has changed. We no longer discriminate against people because of their personal choices or who they are. Through these texts, readers have learnt this and apply it to their real life and are also thankful that we are tolerant. Thankful that we aren’t killing innocent people, hating on others because of their skin colour or because they simply made a mistake. I am personally glad that society has experienced this change because who knows of what consequences we as a societal whole would be facing today.
Human Goodness & Beauty
You ever wonder why people can be so harsh but yet still do good things for people? Do things they wouldn’t normally do that’s nice, but they did it anyways or are not suppose to do? The Book Thief is a book that describes lots of this and this paper will explain the main theme of the book. The Book Thief’s main theme is Human Goodness and Beauty because the book has lots of goodness in people, people looking out for one another, and bring each other joy through actions or words.
With people showing Human Goodness they do good deeds to help other people or animals. This can go from helping a dog stuck in a fence to a person in a car accident. Even a guy/girl that is a real pain all the time will help someone that is in danger because they don’t wanna be the witness of a death or something/someone being hurt.
Say for example that someone doesn’t have anything to do, and a person talks with that person finds something to give them to do they will usually grab it for them shown here, “the weekly edition of the Molching Express, she lifted it out took home, presenting it to Max,” (Zuzak 221). This shows the expression by someone getting someone something for another person that they don’t normally have and giving it to them. Most of the time they will be happy for you doing this.
In the world there is good/bad people but that doesn’t matter because they will still do something good for someone eventually no matter what it is. In the book Rosa Hubermann is a good example of this, “Rosa Hubermann, brown hair, in a bun, atrocious cooking, washes clothing for the rich, and hard headed but soft hearted women,” (Zusak 34). This quote shows that even though Rosa is a mean person, she is still nice to people at times. So Even a bad person will look out for a good person at times as well. For example they will save someone in a life or death situation because they are a nice person and don’t care if that person is mean, they are saving someones life and inturn thats what matters to them.
Also people can bring other people joy through actions or words by, saying something that is really nice, or helping someone out that might be in the need of it, but doesn’t ask. Even just doing a simple action that someone is not expecting can make them feel happy and overjoyed. “The Jew stood before him, expecting another handful of derision, but he watched with everyone else as Hans Hubermann held his hand out and presented a piece of bread, like magic,” (Zusak 394). This action of Hans shows that certain small things can bring people joy and peace. His action showed that small things can bring people joy because the jew was never expecting this, but the jew took it joyfully and thanked him for the bread.
Not only does this show kindness but also shows that good people will sometimes not care what other people think and do what feels right. In conclusion, The Book Thief’s main theme is Human Goodness and Beauty because the book has lots of goodness in people, people looking out for one another, and bring each other joy through actions or words. Like lots of people have done and said it doesn’t madder if you’re nice or mean everybody will help someone, somewhere, and at sometime in life no matter how old or young you are. The body was created for many purposes and one of those purposes is helping another human being no matter the situation, or if its words or actions they are helping with.