The Book Thief Essay

2010 Words Aug 6th, 2016 9 Pages
Historically, people have used literacy to obtain political power. In the novel The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, it is evident that books, reading, and words themselves represent power for different characters in different ways. Close analysis of Liesel Meminger and Max Vandenburg reveals that power can be achieved through literacy in a context where literacy is severely limited. Literacy plays a major role in Liesel’s adolescence. Liesel obtains power through literacy as it gives her a sense of comfort and control. The act of reading and writing gives Liesel the strength to cope with and heal from her emotional trauma. Reading and finishing the book The Gravedigger’s Handbook helps Liesel find the courage to move on from the loss of her …show more content…
Although Liesel does not like to reflect on her previous struggles, she proceeds to do so anyways. The “process of writing [is] helpful for her” (Lee 21) and is a coping strategy as it helps Liesel express her emotions and lets out her inner anger and sadness through the act of writing. Moreover, literacy provides Liesel a sense of control. Literacy empowers Liesel by giving her a voice when she is powerless. Liesel becomes an autonomous individual and begins to see the world in its reality. While at the book burning, Liesel learns the reality that parents are communists and that it is Hitler who had them taken away from her. Liesel yells to Hans that she “‘hate[s] the Führer’” (Zusak 115) which suggests that she is developing her individuality and that she is beginning to see the reality of society. Also, Liesel breaks the rules by reading a book that is specifically meant to be burned as a voice “against the culture of Nazi Germany” (Lee 9). It is Liesel’s passion for reading that pushes her to steal a book from the book burning. Liesel’s act of rebellion demonstrates her taking control over herself, rather than the Nazis having control over her. Book burnings are a symbol of power and authority and are made for “destroying ideas” (American Experience para. 2). Book burnings are to remind German citizens who is in power and are meant to burn any knowledge that does not relate to Hitler’s way of thinking. Liesel gains individual

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