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Brutality Versus Beauty in The Book Thief Essay


In the novel, The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak explores and compares the juxtaposition between great brutality and beauty in the human spirit. The author demonstrates how the characters in the novel can overcome cruelty and ruthlessness with acts of extraordinary kindness and humaneness. This is shown through the novel with Max and Liesels friendship, when Hans gives one of the Jewish camp prisoners a piece of bread and when Rosa and Hans protect Max from the Nazis. Zusak illustrates that a humans capacity for hope is difficult to destroy.

Throughout The Book Thief, Max and Liesels friendship is developed amidst war and suffering. Given the circumstances of the time and Maxs background they still manage to develop a special bond between the two of them. This is made evident several times in the novel including when Max gives Liesel The Standover Man for her birthday. This story that Max writes himself defines the significance of their friendship, as he says in the story; Now we are friends, this girl and me. He illustrates and expresses his love and friendship with Liesel by comparing their dreams with each other as they have both have this in common. It also allows Max to understand that the best standover man Ive known isnt a man at all..., so his friendship with Liesel helps him uncover things he wouldnt have been able to without her. Furthermore, the message that Zusak is trying send is that friendships can still be made no matter what the circumstances are.

In the novel, Zusak shows that regardless of the cruelty and brutality of humanity, beauty can always overcome it somehow. This is evident when Hans gives one of the starving Jewish camp prisoners a piece of bread. When Hans held his hand out and presented a piece of bread, like magic to the Jew it symbolises the beauty amongst all the war and suffering. This was a very risky decision that Hans made and despite the fact that he regretted it afterwards and asked himself what was I thinking?, his kindness got the better of him. This particular segment of the novel is a very significant example of how beauty and kindness can still exist amongst war and brutality.

During the time of Nazi Germany, Jewish people werent considered men and women, they were Jews, so when Hans and Rosa took Max in, it automatically represents the humanity amongst the brutality. Labelling Jewish people as not human, once again exhibits the ugliness that mankind was capable of during World War II. The risks involved with Hans and Rosa protecting Max puts them in jeopardy, especially when Max gets sick. Knowing the full potential that theyll put them away for good shows greater courage and the beauty within these two people given the situation. This is an important example of the kindness of mankind as opposed to the cruelty of mankind.

In summary, The Book Thief shows that despite the atrocities that the characters suffered during this time, the beauty of human nature can still shine through and humanity will always prevail. As outlined above, courageous acts of kindness and the relationships that are formed under extreme times of brutality are indicative of Zusaks message.

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