The Book Thief Essay

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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…
3). In addition, literacy empowers Liesel when she reads to others to comfort them, and to feel in control of herself. During a bomb raid, Liesel reads to her frightened neighbours to help calm them down: “everyone was silent but Liesel…for at least twenty minutes, she handed out the story. The youngest kids were soothed by her voice, and everyone else saw visions of the whistler running from the crime scene” (Zusak 381). Liesel also begins to read to Frau Holtzapfel which helps console her during her time of grieving over her lost son. Frau Holtzapfel even offers to “‘stop spitting on [Rosa’s] door’” in exchange for Liesel to read to her. Being literarily educated, which is restricted during World War II, results in great power for many people. For Liesel, the power of words, writing, and reading help comfort her during her emotional trauma. Literacy “ultimately save[s] [Liesel]” (Smith para. 3) in the sense that books give her a strong purpose to her life. As Grace Lee has said, “not only does Liesel steal books, but she also steals her life back from death itself” (Lee 21). During a time where she is distraught and
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