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The Book Thief

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

Literature and Writing Theme

The title suggests that literature and writing will be an important theme of this novel. The Book Thief is framed by various other books, not the least of which is protagonist Liesel's memoir, The Book Thief. The novel also shows the destruction of literature and writing, as dramatized by the burning of Jewish creative and intellectual products in a book burning to commemorate Adolph Hitler's birthday. Max Vandenburg, a Jew hiding from the Nazis, gets a small revenge for this by painting over the pages of Hitler's own book, Mein Kampf, and writing stories for Liesel over top of them. Overall, the novel seems to demonstrate the power that words of friendship have to overshadow words of hatred.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Which is your favorite of Liesel's books, and why? Which do you think is her favorite?
  2. Why does Liesel decide to write about her life? Why does Max?
  3. How is Hitler's book, Mein Kampf, used in the novel? How do you feel about this use?
  4. Why does Liesel tear up a book in Ilsa Hermann's library?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Writing saves Liesel's life, literally and figuratively.

Reading becomes a way for Liesel to help others and gives her a sense of purpose.

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