The novel "Thief" by Markus Zusak

The novel opens up by death narrating the scene. He comes to collect the soul of a little six-year-old boy also known as the main character’s younger brother. Later when the mother and the sister realize the boy is dead they then must stop into town to bury him. Liesel, the sister, and the main character notice that a gravedigger had dropped a black book with silver lettering. Leisel then takes the book, thus giving her the name book thief.

Then they take another trip on a train to Munich. Her mother drops her off at an unfamiliar place in Munich, it was a foster home. She later meets her new foster parents; Hans and Rosa Hubermann.

Inciting incident

This is when Hans Hubermann took Liesel to the book burning in celebration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday. They burn all the books that are related to Jews. Before they leave Liesel steals a book hoping no one saw her steal a book, but someone did.

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This person is the mayor’s wife, Ilsa. She discovers Liesel’s interest in books.

Events contributing to rising action

Since World War II was occurring it was very hard to pay for things, and Liesel was working for her foster mother to deliver laundry. Rosa, Liesel's foster mother, thought that no one could say no to a little girl. Then things got worse in Germany and a customer named, Frau Hermann tells Liesel that she can no longer pay. Liesel grows with anger and frustration because they will no longer get paid which will cause them to not be able to pay for food So Leisel decides to steal a book with her best friend, Rudy, as revenge.

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In addition to that, a young man named Max Vandenburg, the son of an old friend of Hans, comes in need of help. Since he is a Jew he must hide, so as Hans promised Max’s father to protect him he hides max in the basement..

Climax (Crisis/turning point)

Hans Hubermann noticed a Jew that was very fatigued and struggling to just walk, so Hans gives him a piece of bread. A Nazi soldier notices and punishes Hans and the Jew by whipping them. This then builds fear that he has raised suspicion. Which then leads to Hans telling max to flee in fear of the Nazis coming and finding Max. The Nazis come but Max left in time. They had come to recruit Hans into the German army to pay for what he’s done. When he leaves for the war it creates tension in the house, by Liesel and Rosa constantly worrying.

Events contributing to falling action

When Liesel is rescued she runs to her family to find them all dead. She finds her best friend, also dead, and gives the kiss he always wanted. Then Leisel moves into the mayor’s home. Later on, Max comes back from freeing from a camp to Molching to see Liesel.


Liesel moves all the way to Australia through her adult life. She starts to grow old and it’s time for Death to visit her. He then gives her the book that she had written when she was younger.

Other Significant Structural Elements:

The author uses personification to humanize death.He also uses foreshadowing in the book by revealing many things that were going to happen in the book.



Name and significance Liesel Meminger, a young girl who goes through many hardships throughout the novel. Characteristics and thematic significance A young girl who is brave, friendly, and she loves to learn. Change or epiphany and thematic significance At the beginning of the novel Liesel is forced to mature and cope with the lost of her younger brother.She’s sad,because she is in a house with a house full of strangers.The loss of her mother, father, and brother made her mature and grow from the sadness.She then starts to love her life in Molching, Germany with her new family and friends.


Name and significance Adolf Hitler. Characteristics and significance A cruel, evil, senseless man.A fascist man who takes over Germany and kills off Jews.He is an antagonist, because everyone in the novel’s conflict is because of Adolf Hitler.

Other Significant Characters

Name and significance

Rudy Steiner, Liesel’s first and best friend in Molching,Germany.  He’s a young innocent and kind-hearted boy; Who will never leave Liesel's side. He's very open-minded. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand how cruel the world was in the 1940s. Thematic or plot-oriented purpose He plays a big role in Liesel’s childhood because they are best friends. He also has a crush on her and takes every chance he can get in order to get a kiss.

Name and significance

Max Vandenburg, a young jewish man who is the son of Han’s old best friend in the war. Characteristics He’s an intelligent, fearful yet brave, young man.He’s very kind-hearted and loves the friendship him and Liesel have.

Thematic or plot-oriented purpose

He is put in as both a plot and thematic purpose. He plays a purpose in the plot by creating the rising action and the conflict. He also plays a purpose in the theme, because when he leaves the fictional town of Molching, Germany it shows Liesel how terrible the situation is in Germany.This creates a growth in her maturity.

  • Name and significance Hans Hubermann, the foster father of Liesel Meminger.
  • Characteristics A warm hearted, heroic, and a very great accordion player.
  • Thematic or plot-oriented purpose He plays as a fatherly figure throughout the novel.He contributes a big role through the conflict; He is sent to the war which causes much conflict and tension in the book.


Place and symbolic significance The 1940s in the fictional town of Molching, Germany the country is in absolute chaos because of the Nazis starting feuds between countries, because of Hitler’s rise of power.

Time period and contextual significance The setting takes place in the fictional town of Molching, Germany during World War II where Nazis are starting to take over and start war throughout Germany. Time span January 1939 to 1943.


Main conflict

Type of conflict is "Person vs Person". Values embodied in conflict (expressed as opposition—something vs. something) Max against Hitler because he was a Jew. Leisel vs Hitler, because he was the cause of all the airstrikes that had killed her family and best friend.

On Christmas day Liesel came in with a weather report and showed Max that it was snowing.Max and Liesel then build a snowman in the basement.She would go outside and keep bringing back the snow.That night Max became very sick and slipped into a coma, but the family thought he was dead.Throughout the days Hans and Rosa worried where they were going to take the dead body.Meanwhile Liesel worried if her friend was ever going to wake up.Although he woke up this created much conflict throughout the family and created a man vs self conflict.This shows that the Hubermanns had to make wise mature decisions on the “dead” body.

Significance of Title

The title,”The Book Thief,” shows that books are going to have a great importance in the novel.Throughout the book Liesel steals many books, and each novel represents an important moment of her life.

Thematic statements (2-3)

State in declarative sentence general truths this story reveals about life and/or human nature—be specific and no clichés. When you deal with a loss it forces you to mature.No matter what age, a death of someone close to you will force you to mature and learn from the pain of your loss.


Historical World War II was happening.President Franklin D. Roosevelt was president.Hitler is in the process of wiping almost an entire population of jews in Germany. Biographical Markus Zusak wrote this , thinking about his parents and how their childhood was in Austria and Germany during the time of World War II.He had also written a draft about a girl stealing a book, so he combined the two and created the famous award winning novel,”The Book Thief”. Personal Impact I was influenced by this book ,because in my country there is a bunch of political problems and realizing that no matter how hard times are there’s always something that will get you through it.In this case it was Liesel’s books.It also taught me the power of love and friendship and how important it is to have people close to your heart..

5 Key Quotes

“I am haunted by humans”-Markus Zusak

“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves.”I’m okay” we say.”I’m alright”.But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can’t get it off.That’s when you realize that sometimes it isn’t even an answer--it’s a question.Even now,I wonder how much of my life is convinced.”-Markus Zusak

“The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst.I see their ugly and their beauty,and i wonder the same thing can be both.”-Markus Zusak

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud spot blues. Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”-Markus Zusak

“Even death has a heart.”-Markus Zusak

Cite this page

The novel "Thief" by Markus Zusak. (2022, Feb 07). Retrieved from

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