What is the common theme amoung the three books, The Book Thief, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and The Glass Castle?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These three books share a few themes in common. One of these is love though different books examine love from different angles. One other common theme is that of oppression. In one book the oppressed are an ethnic group. In another, the oppressed are women. In the third, they are children.

Starting with The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls tells the story of her upbringing along with that of her brother and two sisters. The oppression they experienced is amply clear in the irrational neglect and abuse they endured.

[We] took a sharp turn over some railroad tracks, the [car] door flew open, and I tumbled out of the car. ... with my breath knocked out ... I lifted my head ... to watch the Green [car] disappear around a bend. ... I decided it was possible Mom and Dad might not come back for me. They might not notice I was missing.

In A Thousand Splendid Suns, the stories of Mariam and Laila are told. Once married, they are forced by law and custom to endure abuses from husbands, obey unquestioningly, and hid themselves under burkas. Their lives and conflicts illustrate the oppression of these women.

When Afsoon closed the door [on her], Miriam heard the rattling of a key as it turned in the lock.

In The Book Thief, Death narrates the story of Liesel, a young girl during world watches Jewish prisoners marched to Dachau who are being whipped for giving and receiving the kindness of a crust of bread. As she watches parents sent off as punishment and other Jews marched through Molching, Death's observations make clear the oppressions humanity, in particular the Jews, were subjected to.

To your left,
perhaps to your right,
perhaps even straight ahead,
you find a small black room.
In it sits a Jew.
He is scum.
He is starving.
He is afraid.
Please--try not to look away.

Read the study guide:
A Thousand Splendid Suns

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