When discussing literature, the term "mood" is normally used to express the feelings an author sought to create in the reader. Describe the overall mood you think Markus Zusak was trying to...

When discussing literature, the term "mood" is normally used to express the feelings an author sought to create in the reader. Describe the overall mood you think Markus Zusak was trying to create in The Book Thief.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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"I have to say that although it broke my heart, I was, and still am, glad I was there."  These words, spoken by Death, the personified narrator of The Book Thief, could very well have been written by one of the many who have come to love this novel.  Reading it can be a struggle; a smooth narrative it is not, interrupted as it is by Death, who offers commentary, asides, and interpretations as he sees fit.  However, what appears to make it so appealing to so many is that Zusak has somehow managed to take a story set in what may be the darkest hour of human history, the Holocaust, and infused it with lovely characters whose life-threatening situations don't keep them from occasionally experiencing joy and happiness in their lives.  The main character, Liesel, is nothing if not resilient, strong to her core, intelligent, capable of great courage, compassion and love. 

Perhaps the thing that makes Liesel most compelling is her love of words; the books she steals, the story Max writes for her, her own journal, written in the basement during a bombing raid which claims her parents' lives, all of these things point toward the theme that although Hitler and his flunkies used words for evil, they could not quell people like Liesel who insisted on using words for good.  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once wrote that "All changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words."  Liesel might have written this, as well, because this is a lesson she learns, integrates, and uses to have some effect on a terrible situation.  This courage, perhaps, is what makes her most lovable, and creates the reaction shared by many, maybe most, of this beloved book's readers, that of sadness transposed with a real triumph of human dignity and spirit.

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