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The Book Thief: Power of Words

Essay by   •  November 4, 2012  •  Essay  •  739 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,773 Views

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Liesel Meminger was forced to grow up faster than any other nine year old should when her brother passed away right next to her. To make matters even worse, her mother was leaving her to a foster family. After her brother's burial she found a book in the snow titled The Grave Digger Handbook. This book was the start of her career as The Book Thief. For the next five years she lived at 33 Himmel Street in Munich, Germany with her new foster father and foster mother, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She spent those years causing trouble with her next door neighbor and love interest, Rudy Steiner. Throughout the next few years she learns important things about the world around her mainly through her foster father and the Jewish fugitive hiding in her basement, Max Vandenberg. This novel represents two major themes: the power of words and that life is very fragile.

Throughout history, there have been multiple speakers that have been able to influence, sometimes even to the point of control, thousands of people just through their speeches. Hitler was one of these men. In The Book Thief, they show the power that he possessed without picking up a weapon. Max Vandenburg displayed the dictator's power through a story called "The Word Shaker." The word shaker is someone who spreads information or words. The word shaker in the story is based off of Liesel. Liesel read to the people in the bomb raid shelter, Max when he was sick, and Frau Holtzapfel when her son died. Words have been able to comfort many people as well as hurt them. Not only did what happen in World War II, it happened before then, now, and for years to come. My friends and I discussed the power of words. We talked about: why the words of the German dictator so influential to all of these people and how were these words able to calm people. We all asked ourselves the difficult question as to why Hitler and other speakers, could control so many people. One reason for his power was that people are in a vulnerable state when they are introduced to a new idea that is very different than what they've heard before . They are looking for a new place to turn, and his words comforted them about their failure in the past. He used that vulnerable state against them. The reason that my friend conjured up was the belief that the people who are listening to him are looking to believe in something. These people may not truly believe or understand his speeches but, they are looking for someone to follow so they put their trust in him. People like Hans Hubermann weren't influenced by his speeches because they weren't looking for anything and they were comfortable with their ways, they didn't have a case of blood lust. As shown by Liesel in the bomb shelter, words also have a soothing property. My friends believe that books are so calming because they allow people to take refuge in the words. They allow people to escape to a world where their problems are non-existent.

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