The Book Thief

Knowing that Liesel is called a “thief,” how does the book complicate our ideas of justice and judgment? Which characters do you view as just/unjust or brave/cowardly, and why? Which events or details most color your perceptions of these characters?

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Liesel's thievery is a form of defiance and self-actualization. By stealing a book from a book burning, she defies Nazi censorship and takes her education into her own hands. When Ilsa offers Liesel a book, Liesel refuses it because she is enraged at Ilsa for firing Liesel's foster mother Rosa. Instead, Liesel breaks into Ilsa's home and steals the same book, later stealing others. Ilsa realizes what Liesel has done and is amused by it; she "helps" Liesel steal from her library by leaving her window open and placing books in visible locations. Ilsa is an encouraging figure who desires to help Liesel continue to read, even if it must be on Liesel's terms. Rudy and others steal food because they are hungry, yet Rudy is unable to burglarize a wealthy home despite his anger over the Army having "stolen" his father.