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Published: 13-12-2019

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A close analysis of the key scene depicting violence as depicted in The Book Thief

In functions of fantastic literature, violent scenes frequently play prominent roles. Nevertheless, these scenes of violence do not exist for their own sake, but instead add value and depth to the story being told. The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak, is no exception to this statement. Throughout the story there are a lot of violent scenes, and all of them add meaning and potency to Zusak’s writing. In this story in particular, the violent acts show how a cruel, Nazi, fascist society responds to the acts of human kindness they also show the power of words and, lastly, show how survivors of tragedies deal with their guilt. The violent scenes in The Book Thief help to show the themes of human kindness, the energy of words, and survivor’s guilt.

A single instance of a violent scene in the story arises throughout the 1st time the Nazis parade a line of Jews down Munich Street. “Their eyes have been massive in their starving skulls. And the dirt. The dirt was molded to them. Their legs staggered as they were pushed by soldiers’ hands…” (Zusak, 391-92). The parade of these human beings, being treated like animals, is definitely a scene of unimaginable violence. Nevertheless due to the fact of this violence, Hans Hubermann’s thoughts about the Nazis are shown by way of his caring actions. “The Jew stood just before him, expecting another handful of derision, but he watched with absolutely everyone else as Hans Hubermann held his hand out and presented him with a piece of bread, like magic” (Zusak, 394). When he provides 1 of the Jews a piece of bread, his compassion and care for humans, regardless of their ethnic or religious background is displayed. From this scene of violence, the theme that even in the darkest of times, human compassion for one particular another nonetheless exists is shown.

Yet another example of how a scene of violence impacted the meaning of the story is the death of Liesel’s brother on the train in the starting of the story. “Liesel Meminger-could see with no question that her small brother, Werner, was now sideways and dead. His blue eyes stared at the floor. Seeing nothing” (Zusak, 20). Although the death of her brother is a quick scene of violence, as he died coughing on a train, it sets off a chain of events that benefited Liesel’s life and affects the which means of the story. Since Werner died, Liesel had to cease prior to she arrived at her foster house to bury him. It is at this stop that she picks up The Grave Digger’s Handbook and steals her initial book. This book later becomes the glue that binds Liesel and Hans with each other, and helps Liesel to learn a lot more and far more about books, and words. She then realizes the power that words have and the damage they can do. “The words. Why did they have to exist?… Without having words, the Führer was practically nothing. There would be no limping prisoner, no require for consolation or worldly tricks to make us really feel better” (Zusak, 521). All of these events, that started with the violent death of Werner, contributed to the book’s theme of the power of language.

Yet an additional violent scene comes when Michael Holtzapfel survives the Battle of Stalingrad, but his brother Robert dies. Michael is so full of guilt that he survived that he requires his personal life. “Michael Holtzapfel knew what he was carrying out. He killed himself for wanting to live” (Zusak, 503). This violent act of a person taking their own life shines light on the theme of abandonment and survivor’s guilt in the story. This theme, which is introduced earlier in the book, when Liesel’s mother abandons her and Liesel goes to reside in the foster home. This theme is also apparent in Hans’ story of when he was serving in Globe War I. The story was that, Erik Vandenberg saved his life by volunteering him for a written assignment, whilst the rest of the regiment was sent into battle and all of them died. “He wrote the letters as very best he could although the rest of the males went into battle. None of them came back” (Zusak, 178). The violence of the very first World War, which took Erik Vandenberg, gave Hans survivor’s guilt and this causes Hans to take Max in. Some violent scenes contribute to the theme of survivor’s guilt, which drastically modifications the plot and meaning of the story.

All through the course of The Book Thief, numerous violent events occurred. However, these violent events had an underlying objective, as they contributed to the a lot of themes of the story. As the Jews are being mercilessly paraded by means of Munich street, the theme of human compassion is shown when Hans offers bread to a dying and starving Jew. From the death of Werner, Liesel’s brother, the theme of the power of words and books enters into the story. Lastly, in the deaths of Erik Vandenberg and Robert Holtzapfel, the theme of survivor’s guilt passes onto their close friends and household and causes changes in the story. A easy scene of violence can modify the plot of the story, deepen its themes, and even add completely new ones.
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