How does Liesel develop or grow as a result of the incidents in the story?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the story progresses, different incidents in Liesel's life contribute to her growth and development.

For example, through her interactions with Max, Liesel learns the importance of small gestures and simple joys. One Christmas, there is no money for presents and very little food in the house. To cheer Max up, Liesel goes outside to fill pots and buckets with mounds of snow. Then, she takes the snow-filled containers down to the basement to Max. They enjoy a snowball fight, and the whole family builds a snowman.

After Christmas, Max catches a cold and weakens considerably. Liesel's foster parents take Max upstairs to Liesel's room, and the whole family tends to the sick fugitive. During his sickness, Liesel reads to him. She discovers that reading aloud is a comfort to both reader and listener alike. In tending to Max, Liesel learns that perseverance, hope, and courage are essential in the darkest of hours.

The lessons she learns help her to endure extreme provocation when her foster father, Hans, is whipped by a German soldier for handing a Jew a piece of bread. The incident helps Liesel to realize that even the good are not spared suffering in this life. This fact is brutally reinforced in Liesel's mind when her entire family is killed in a bomb blast.

Youth has not spared Liesel from experiencing her share of tragedies; far from breaking her, however, these incidents have only taught Liesel the importance of cherishing life and living it to its fullest. Death relates that Liesel never lost her zeal and appreciation for life, for she lived to a very old age.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the book The Book Thief Liesal looses her brother due to his death and then her mother when she is sent away.  She has nightmares but her new foster Papa sits with her and tries to comfort her.  Through his kindness and the security of him and his wife she learns how to trust again.

She is taught how to read and begins to steal bools from the Mayor's wife.  In the woman Liesal identifies a broken person.  As the woman begins to allow her into her life, Liesal begins to mature and look at the damages caused by life and death.

When the Jewish man is brought into the home for hiding the child begins to take responsibility for his safety and well being.  She gains the maturity not to report him and to be careful about covering for him.  She also develops compassion.  This is evidenced by her calm actions when she is in hiding and begins to tell stories she has read to calm the children and others.  She has also gained the ability to remain calm in a crisis.

When Liesal sees the Jewish man paraded down the street with the other men, she runs to him even knowing that socially it is forbidden.  She shows courage.

In the end when her new family is killed and Peter is gone, she leaves to begin a new life with the mayor's wife.  She has gone from being a frightened little girl to a young woman in a short period of time.