Theme of Suffering in The Book Thief Essay Example

  • Category: Books, Literature,
  • Words: 422 Pages: 2
  • Published: 31 August 2021
  • Copied: 199

A theme that I believe permeates to the entire text would be “suffering”. The general term for suffering comes out to be, “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.” This shows that the literal word for suffering can be a product of multiple outcomes. Examples of this may include, a troubling time for one, or extreme anxiety for another. This can be seen as a scenario for the theme of suffering found in different ways. A connection can be found between the theme of suffering and the book, “The Book Thief. The overall plot connects to the theme of suffering, due to the timing of when the story took place. World War II was a brutal time for a numerous amount of people, and many of them were in constant fear because of it. 

Death was also a common occurrence during that period of time. For instance, at the beginning of the story, it tells us the tragedy that Liesel, the protagonist, had to go through, starting off with her brother dying in front of her. “It was January 1939. She was nine years old, soon to be ten. Her brother was dead” (27/560). Liesel is also shown with another example of “suffering” when she finds out that she was most likely never going to see her biological mother again. “...the sudden realization that this would all be for nothing—that her mother would never write back and she would never see her again” (101/560). Another person who ties to the theme would be Max Vandenburg. Due to Max being a jew, he has to suffer many tragedies such as constant fear of death, poor living conditions, malnourishment, and freedom-loss. “In her bedtime visions, he always slept fully clothed, shoes included, just in case he needed to flee again. He slept with one eye open” (245/560). Max is also affected by mistakes made by others. For example, when Hans Hubermann was treating a Jew on the street with kindness, that made the family, including Max, a target, which resulted in Max having to leave the Hubermann household. 

“When he made it to Frau Diller’s, he looked back one last time to number thirty-three.” In addition to the other characters, another person who fits the theme of suffering would be Rudy Steiner. During nazi youth, Rudy is always being tormented by his instructor and has to deal with heaps of hardships thrown his way. “As for Rudy, so far this year he’d swallowed mud, bathed himself in fertilizer, been half-strangled by a developing criminal,...” (293/560). Rudy also states that if he wasn’t so poor, he wouldn’t be stealing if he had the money. “Would I be here if I was rich enough to own a watch?” (269/560).


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