The Book Thief Rhetorical Analysis

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The Book Thief

The novel “The Book Thief” is a masterpiece, written by Markus Zusak in 2005. The novel is set, in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, is written from the perspective of a young girl named Liesel Meminger. The novel is narrated by death, and Zusak masterfully uses his, and later Liesel’s and Max narrative voice to highlight the central idea of the manipulation of words. Zusak also uses innovative stylistic techniques such as; colour metaphors, narrative interruptions and personification to show the reoccurring idea.

Using death as the narrator, is an innovative move, by Zusak. In the text death is portrayed as very human, a feature that is not usually linked with our idea of death and allows the reader to empathise
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Death himself steals, Liesel's story and bases his narration on it. Due to this Liesel’s narrative voice is also very pronounced in the novel. Zusak throughout the novel, uses Liesel’s reference frame to highlight the idea of manipulation of words. Liesel begins the novel as an uneducated child with non-existent literacy skills. Liesel first realised the power words can hold while learning to read with Hans; “In the darkness. She was watching the words.”. This curiosity of words, later turned into an obsession for Liesel, as she periodically stole book after book from the Hermann’s library; “Beneath her shirt, a book was eating her up”. Through Liesel’s narrative voice Zusak expands the central idea, into “positive and negative words”. Liesel quickly understands the power which words can have over people, and puts her words to good effect helping max heal from his dreadful sickness, and later supporting her neighbours through the terrifying time in the bomb shelter; “she handed out the story. The youngest kids were soothed by her voice, and everyone else saw the vision of the whistler running from the crime scene. The book thief saw only saw the mechanics of the words- their bodies stranded on the paper, beaten down for her to walk on.” However Zusac, through Liesel’s narrative also showed the flip side of the positive-negative word duality. Liesel understood …show more content…
It saved my life”. Zusak uses Max’s narrative voice to illustrate the manipulation of words. Max after reaching Himmel street, whites out the “ugly” words of Mien Kumpf, and uses the pages to write constructive and positive words, to empower Liesel and erase some of Hitlers influence; “the best standover man I’ve ever known is not a man at all”. Through Max, Zusak had the opportunity to show how people like Liesel and Hitler, with an understanding of manipulation of words have power over people. “Yes the Führer decided that he would rule the world with words”. Using Max's voice, Zusak conveys not only how easy it is for words to manipulate the audience; “Words were fed to them, they now knew everything they needed to know. They were hypnotised” but also how positive words, hold much more power than those built to destroy, “The tree grew faster than everything else, until it was at last the tallest tree in the forest.”

Using the respective voices of Max, Liesel and Death, Markus Zusak has managed to explore the main idea of manipulation of words. Using stylistic features like colour metaphors, narrative interruptions and personification Zusak has created profound analysis on the power of