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The Book Thief, Essential Revision Notes

© 2016.

All revision notes have been produced by mockness ltd for

Table of Contents

Context 5

Summary 7

Characters 9

Death 9

Liesel Meminger 9

Hans Hubermann 9

Rosa Hubermann 10

Max Vandenburg 10

Rudy Steiner 10

Alex Steiner 11

Ilsa Hermann 11

Frau Holtzapfel 11

Michael Holtzapfel 11

Robert Holtzapfel 11

Frau Diller 11

Hans Hubermann, Junior 11

Trudy Hubermann 11

Tommy Müller 12

Arthur Berg 12

Walter Kugler 12

Franz Deutscher 12

Viktor Chemmel 12

Reinhold Zucker 12

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols 13

Themes 13

The Power of Words 13

The Kindness and Cruelty of Humans 13

The Dualities of Nazi-era Germany 14

The Responsibility of the Living to the Dead 14

Motifs 15

Books and writing 15

Darkness 15

Stealing 15

Symbols 16

Liesel’s Relationship to Books 16

Hans’s Accordion 16

Bread 17

Important Quotations Explained 18

1. 18

2. 18

3. 18

4. 19

5. 19

Sample Answers 21

What role do books play for Liesel, Hans, Max, and in the novel as a whole? 21

What is the effect of having the book be narrated by Death? How would it be different if it were narrated by Liesel, Hans, or Max? 22

Why is it significant that Max is Jewish? 23


Markus Zusak was born in Sydney, Australia, on June 23, 1975. He grew up listening to his parents’ stories of their childhoods in Vienna and Munich during World War II. One story his mother often told was about watching a group of Jews being marched down the street on their way to the concentration camp in Dachau. An old man was struggling to keep up with the rest of the group. When a boy ran up to the man and offered him a piece of bread, the man fell to his knees, crying and kissing the boy’s ankles. Then German officers took the bread from the man and whipped the boy. This scene became the basis for “The Book Thief.” In the book, it is the main character’s foster father who offers the old man the bread and is whipped by the officer. Zusak has said the story symbolized for him everything that is beautiful and everything that is horrible about humanity.

In an interview with The ...

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