Study Guide

The Book Thief Identity

By Markus Zusak

Identity

Chapter 1
Death

You are going to die. (1.6)

It might be unnerving to hear Death addressing us so plainly. But he's not really telling us anything we don't know. Rather, he's expressing his vision of humans as sharing a common identity in our mortality.

Chapter 6
Death

Kommunist (6.6)

That's German for Communist, as you can infer. The Communist Party was a legitimate political party in Germany with sizeable membership. Communists were definitely against Hitler and the Nazis and therefore would suffer a squashing. Although the facts are murky on this topic, Liesel's family is punished because of her father's identity as a Communist.

Chapter 8
Death

He was not the junior misogynistic type of boy at all. (8.23)

Rudy is just too loveable. Misogyny, dislike of females, is a good character for any guy not too have, whatever the age. We like that this is part of his identity.

Chapter 9
Death

He smeared the charcoal on, nice and thick, till he was covered in black. Even his hair received a once over. (9.5)

This is Rudy, getting ready to take on the identity of his idol, Jesse Owens, a black American who won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics held in Germany. Hitler was not pleased with Owens' triumph, but Rudy definitely was. To Rudy, black is definitely beautiful. He's sees past the propaganda surrounding him even at a young age.

Chapter 26
Death

In front of him, he read from the copy of Mein Kampf. His savior. Sweat was swimming out of his hands. Fingermarks clutched the book. (26.2)

Max knows that if he can "pass" as a non Jew long enough, he can get to Himmel Street, his best change for survival. The very best way to establish this identity temporarily is to carry a copy of Hitler's book.

Hang on a second, he was German. Or more to the point, he had been. (26.20)

The Nuremburg Laws were passed in 1933 and 1935. They stripped Jews of their German Citizenship and right to vote. Legally speaking, all Jews in Germany were in the country... illegally. This manipulation of the legal system was an integral part of the Nazi technique. Read more in "Setting."

Chapter 29
Death

In sloppy lettering, the words JEWISH FILTH were spilling over at their edges. (29.75)

Hans gets into trouble for painting over the slur. Such slurs, painted across Jewish homes, shops, synagogues, were part of the campaign to identify Jewish people as subhuman.

Chapter 52
Death

They were French, they were Jews, and they were you. (52.18)

Death is talking about the death of a group of French Jews murdered in a Polish prison. He's reminding us that we are all human, all united by Death. It's ridiculous to kill another human, when the job will be done on its own in due time.

Chapter 84
Death

She was a Jew feeder without a question in the world on that man's first night in Molching. She was an arm reacher, deep into a mattress, to deliver a sketchbook to a teenage girl. (84.25)

Although Liesel never completely gets over Rosa initial beatings, she does, on Rosa's death, see into the core of Rosa's identity.Ā Liesel remembers Rosa's kindness to Max and her excitement when she presents Liesel with Max's sketchbook.