The power of words is a significant theme in Markus Zusak’s novel, ‘The Book Thief’. Zusak well comprehends the relationship between Nazi Germany and significant characters through the book. The author has shown that the main users of manipulating words are Adolf Hitler and Liesel Meminger. The author has exposed to the reader to which way words are formatted through the novel is through the characters. Zusak shows the characters to be living in a coerced, scripted life. This would be where Hitler constrained the public eye through his manipulation of words. Whereas Liesel found a way to use them to overcome any conflict and use her power over words to gain friendships toward many characters. Throughout the novel, ‘The Book Thief’, Markus Zusak illustrates that words are empty and meaningless, it’s your experiences and the way in which words are used to transform them into a destructive power.
Zusak shows the reader through his words that Germans were unwillingly motivated through his words into a false reality. Through words used by Adolf Hitler with the Nazi government, they demoralized the country. He manipulated shopkeepers to have strict beliefs, “if you walked into her shop and didn’t say ‘Heil Hitler’ you wouldn’t be served”. (page 51). The use of words, power had been given to influence, persuade and indoctrinate a country into believing what they were wanted to be told. It is pivotally shown that “without words, the Fuhrer would be nothing” (Zusak 521). Liesel Meminger fell victim to Adolf Hitler’s control and she would be “dreaming about the Fuhrer. Adolf Hitler” (page 35). Zusak using Adolf Hitler in the novel showed the importance and power of words and how they have a negative effect of manipulation over characters in the novel.
Zusak created Liesel as a strong self-motivated child, who learns to use her knowledge to positively empower characters in the novel. She becomes a self-motivated smart young girl as her foster father teaches her how to read and eventually a whole language. She is motivated by the mystery they hide and is anxious to solve them. “once words had rendered Liesel useless, but now she felt an innate sense of power” (Zusak, 147). Zusak showed that matter how many people tried to sway or force Liesel, she overcame these powerful speeches, posters, rallies, and made up her own mind that her as an individual. Sadly, because of all the negativity Liesel is experiencing, she asks herself “what good are words” (Zusak, 521), as disappointing it is to ask what the importance of words is it reminds the reader again what good are words if so much damage is coming out of them. It is shown deeply through ‘The Book Thief that “the best word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words” (Zusak 447). Liesel is this word shaker she used the power of words to her ability to manipulate people in her life. The words in the novel literally saved Liesel, Zusak uses this to remind the reader that words have a negative power but they also bring much beauty. At the end of the novel, Markus makes a point which brings light to the novel, “I have hated the words, and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right”. This brings acknowledgment to how the words bring to light and shed darkness over the novel and that Markus Zusak shows love and hatred towards the power words are given by humans.
Words and stories hold tremendous value in the “The Book Thief”. Zusak Formed a whole world of realization of to how words can hold tremendous value to the novel. Zusak used his power of words to manipulate us as an audience into believing he was an awful man. He gave us an emotional attachment to Liesel and by the end of the book we felt her pain and were astounded by her courage. The novel as a whole shared the importance of the power of words with the power given through characters and events that took place.