Suffering In The Book Thief

Categories: The Book Thief

Do you think suffering is important in a story? Suffering is a very important theme in the novel The Book Thief, by Mark Zusak. This novel is about a girl and her close ones who went through a lot of suffering or hardships. Hunger, cold, and abuse - contribute to the suffering. The Jews and German in this novel had to go through hunger. Max, is one of the important characters in Book Thief that had to go through relentless cold.

Abuse also contributes to the severe suffering of the characters. These points play heavily in the suffering of the characters.

Firstly, The hunger of the characters is very important because it’s a very serious suffering that they go through. Lesiel and Rudy steal to cure their hunger, the novel says, “In fairness, there were many things that brought Rudy and Liesel together, but it was the stealing that cemented their friendship completely. It was brought about by one opportunity, and it was driven by one inescapable force- Rudy’s hunger.

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” (Zusak 148) Lesiel says that her and Rudy steal only because of Rudy’s severe hunger. The hunger of a Jew is described in a very interesting way where Death says, “To your left, perhaps your right, perhaps even straight ahead, you find a small black room. In it sits a Jew. He is a scum. He is starving. He is afraid. Please try not to look away.” (Zusak 138). Death is talking about a useless Jew that is hungry and afraid.

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Hunger is experienced by the characters of the Book Thief which makes them suffer.

Secondly, Max from The Book Thief suffer from relentless cold. Max is the character that is affected by the cold the most because it says, “Please, Max, just don’t die.” He was the second snowman to be melting away before her eyes, only this one was different. It was paradox. The colder he became, the more he melted” (Zusak 316). Liesel explaining that Max is like a snowman melting (dying) before her eyes, but when it gets colder he melts unlike a snowman that melts when its warm. Max is again suffering from the cold for example it says, “As close to the fire as he sat, he could not raise himself to any degree of approximate health”(Zusak 313). Max sits by fire as close as possible, but still can’t become warm because of the cold. Cold is suffered by a lot of characters in The Book Thief, but it affects Max the most because of the condition he was in.

Lastly, Abuse is a very serious way the characters suffered. Liesel gets abused by Rosa Herberman very often the author claims, “Before she could answer, the wooden spoon came down on Liesel Meminger’s body like the gait of God. Red marks like footprints, and they burned.”(Zusak 99). Liesel gets hit with a spoon before she could even speak. Hans Heberaman get beaten by the German soldiers it says, “Hans Heberaman was whipped on the street” (Zusak 394) Hans Heberman gets physically abused in the middle of the street for doing something good. Physical abuse is probably the most painful suffering that the characters of The Book Thief had to go through.

These points have a very big impact on the characters. The Jews and German in this novel had to go through serious hunger. Max one of important characters in Book Thief had to go through relentless cold. Abuse also contributes to the suffering of the characters. I think Suffering is a very important theme in The Book Thief, Do you think it's the most significant theme in The Book Thief.

Updated: Feb 22, 2024
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Suffering In The Book Thief. (2024, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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