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The Book Thief

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Due Date: 23rd Of May 2018

Topic: Death states, “I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both.” How does Zusak explore the way in which beauty can exist in the midst of brutality?

Word Count: 762

The Book Thief is a literary text that explores the duality of beauty in a world of brutality as this is a paradox for death himself. Markus Zusak conveys his ideas regarding the duality of human existence through him explaining that both beauty and brutality can exist at times of great suffering. Throughout the novel Zusak illustrates how beauty can rise above even the most brutal times through the power of words and how it can be manipulated for both beauty and ugliness at the same time. The symbol of colours and how it is a distraction from the survivors of the dead and Hans’ accordion being a symbol of love, hope and comfort in the destructive world of Nazi Germany.

Throughout the novel, Zusak displays the importance of Hans’ accordion because it symbolises love, hope, comfort and a piece of Han’s soul in a world of war and brutality.  Zusak posits that war and its impact can be both positive and negative. It can be positive in the sense that Hans’ soul (accordion) survives the loss Liesel endured when he died and brought Liesel and Max together. It can also be negative in the sense that It ripped Liesel away from everyone in Himmel Street, max and the person “she loved the most” (p.572). Hans’ accordion brought beauty because Hans’ kindness and ability to bring joy to others expressed in the way he played. Han’s character is kind and gentle but when he plays his emotions express through.  At the end of the novel the accordion is a symbol of great loss because of the air raids destruction on Himmel Street and also Hans’ soul as it survives the destruction that occurred.

In the novel death illustrates the symbolism of the colours and how they can be both beautiful in the sense that death “enjoy(s) every colour” (p.4) and ugly in the sense that he uses colours to distract him from “the leftover humans” (p.5). Colours for death are a “distraction… (that keep (him) sane… (and) helps (him) cope.” (p.5) from the survivors of the dead as he tries “to keep (his) mind off them” (p.5) while he is on his job of collecting souls. The colour white represents the burial of Liesel’s brother, Black represents the black sky when the pilot crashed his plane and red represents the red sky during the firebombing tract took the lives everyone in Liesel’s Street. It is also evident that these three colours are the colours of the Nazi flag representing ugliness. Colours for death is “usually how (he) see things” (p.3). In the text death foreshadows every moment Liesel encounters death by explaining to the readers what colours are present. Death is always around even at the most beautiful times as he explains that he is “always finding humans at their best and worst.”(p.572).



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