The Book Thief

What purpose do books serve in the novel the book theif? How can the topic of "books" conect to the deeper historical topic of the Holocaust and the atrocities presented in the novel?

Ideas to Think about:

1. Think about how the main character is connected to books

2. Think about the book burning scene

3. Think about the powers that books hold

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The novel is divided into ten parts, a prologue, and an epilogue. Each section is named for an important event or book title that appears in that section. Within each section there are smaller parts that each have a name of their own, also of an important event or book that appears in that section. Although the book includes so many named sections, each part is more like a chapter than a part that includes chapters. Within these parts, the narrator often gives brief synopsis of conversations, events, or gives the reader a definition of a word that plays an important role in a following scene or snippet of dialogue. At first these sections are distracting from the overall story, but in time the reader grows used to them and begins to look forward to their simple explanations. Finally the book includes several books within a book. These books are stories that Max has written for Liesel and are presented in their entirety for the reader.

The novel includes one major plot line and several subplots. The main plot follows the story of Liesel Meminger as she grows up in Molching, Germany the years before and during World War II. The war influences the direction of Liesel's life, motivating her to do things she might not have done under other circumstances. One of the subplots of the novel follows Liesel's friend, Rudy, as he struggles to get along with fellow classmates who have strong beliefs in the Nazi party. Another subplot follows the story of Max Vandenburg, a Jewish man forced to hide in the Hubermanns' basement from a government who wants to imprison him. These subplots interact seamlessly with the main plot and come to a climax along with the main plot.