The Book Thief

How do Max, Hans, and Books help Liesel maintain her humanity as she grows up during the Nazi regime?

For my essay our thesis relates to three relationships that Liesel has with people or things that help her keep her humanity during the Nazi regime.

How do Max, Hans, and Books each do this?

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Max is wracked with anguish and guilt over leaving his family to save himself, but he comes to befriend Liesel as the two share their respective nightmares. Their friendship grows very deep, and Liesel reads to Max every night when he falls comatose. Max makes two books for Liesel, both of which involve thinly-veiled allegories about their friendship and Nazi Germany: an illustrated story called "The Standover Man," and a long book of sketches that includes the short story "The Word Shaker."

Hans is Liesel's silver-eyed foster father. An amateur accordion player, Hans is a tall, gentle man with a remarkable amount of integrity and bravery -- Hans' compassion sets a strong example for Liesel, who is soothed by his presence.

Liesel learns throughout the course of the novel that words hold a remarkable power to compel people to commit acts of cruelty. At age 9, Liesel is illiterate, and the first book she learns to read is a manual about grave digging. Learning to read brings Liesel closer to the understanding that Hitler's propaganda is the root of his power and the reason why her mother, father, and brother are dead. Words and books give Liesel a new power of understanding and expression.