In The Book Thief, what are important sections or quotations, and what is their significance?
While the atrocity of the Holocaust and World War II form the background of this story, one of the other main themes is how reading (words, literature, communication) is used for enlightenment and comfort. Liesel uses reading to find comfort and knowledge. On the other hand, the Nazis show their ignorance by burning books. At the beginning of Part Two, Death notes that the Germans anti-semitism was supplemented by a need to burn things:
The Germans loved to burn things. Shops, synagogues, Reichstags, houses, personal items, slain people, and of course, books.
Therefore, the Germans burned/destroyed things, even books, rather than try to learn about them. They blamed people and books which did not agree with their racist ideology. Liesel, on the other hand, saw books as liberating and comforting. In Part Ten (pages 498-99), her book also saves her life when Himmel Street is bombed.
She survived because she was sitting in a basement reading through the story of her own life, checking for mistakes.
She was still clutching the book. She was holding desperately on to the words who had saved her life.
Also, in Part Six, Liesel reveals her faith in books and words when she tries to nourish Max back to health by reading to him. She almost shows a kind of mystical belief in the power words and meaning as if reading were like casting a spell of health:
She gave The Dream Carrier to Max as if the words alone could nourish him.
Recall that when Liesel first arrived at the Hubermann home, it was learning to read with Hans that was her first source of comfort.
She kissed him long and soft, and when she pulled herself away, she touched his mouth with her fingers...She did not say goodbye. She was incapable, and after a few more minutes at his side, she was able to tear herself from the ground.
One important quote is what Death speaks about Liesel. Rudy has died and Liesel is kissing him goodbye, though she cannot bring herself to speak the word. This is important because, through her actions, Death can comment upon the capacity of humans for strength and courage in situations that give no reason for strength or courage.