Discussion Topic

Liesel's connection to Hans in The Book Thief

Summary:

Liesel's connection to Hans in The Book Thief is profound and nurturing. Hans becomes a father figure to Liesel, offering her comfort, protection, and teaching her to read. This bond forms the emotional core of Liesel's new life, providing stability and love amidst the chaos of World War II.

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In The Book Thief, why does Liesel feel so connected to Hans?

Hans Hubermann is not only the antithesis to his violent and mouthy wife Rosa, but he is the father that Liesel never had. He is kind and loving with her, but he also teaches her to read. Instead of simply reading The Grave Digger's Handbook to her, he teaches her the alphabet and how to write using a painter's pencil and sandpaper. He doesn't give up there, either. Every night Liesel has a nightmare, and every night, Papa comes in to comfort her and give her a "midnight class" (69). The time spent reading and comforting Liesel is above and beyond what many fathers do. In fact, Hans Hubermann sacrifices many cigarettes to be able to buy Liesel two books for Christmas. This is only one of the many instances where Hans shows love to Liesel and she knows how important she is to him. These wonderful memories at the beginning of the book create a foundation for many other bonding moments and family secrets to be held between them throughout the story.

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In The Book Thief, how does Hans gain Liesel's love?

Hans gains Liesel's love through consistent, unwavering kindness and patience.

Although Liesel feels like a burden when she arrives, Hans never treats her that way. He patiently comforts her when she experiences nightmares about her brother's death, jokes with her, and even teaches her to read and write when he discovers she is illiterate.

Even when Liesel responds with frustration, sorrow, or distrust, Hans continues to treat her with love and respect. He is a stable, dependable support as she grows and copes with her own tragedies.

Hans also serves as a balance for the much rougher, no-nonsense Rosa. Even when Liesel doesn't quite understand Rosa's "tough love," she can always depend on Hans for kindness and comfort when she needs it the most.

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In The Book Thief, how does Hans gain Liesel's love?

Hans, who is an incredibly kind, decent and patient man, easily wins over Liesel's affections after she comes to the Hubermann household.  He does this through several different acts of kindness, all of which help Liesel to feel loved, supported, and okay with who she is.

Liesel is afflicted with horrible nightmares about her brother's death.  Every single night, she sees his body in her dreams again, and wakes up screaming from the trauma that created within her.  Hans, every single night, goes in to her and comforts her while she calms down and is able to go back to sleep.  He hugs her, speaks soothing words, listens to her, and stays with her for hours. This helps Liesel to feel loved instead of like a burden.  Hans demonstrates total patience and love for her through this hard time.

Also, Hans teaches Liesel how to read and write--Liesel, who doesn't know how, snatches books that Hans then patiently teaches her to decipher.  He does this during their nightime nightmare hours, and also in the basement, using Hans' paints to teach her how to write.  He is incredibly patient, as this is a very difficult and slow process, and he never shows impatience or frustration with Liesel's slow progress.  One last way that Hans shows love is by shielding Liesel from the more gruff style of Rosa, joking with Liesel, and teaching her through example how to respond to Rosa's rather unconventional way of dealing with her.

Overall, Hans is a stabilizing and life-saving force in Liesel's life, one that allows her to overcome the difficult circumstances that she has faced, and be strong.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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