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Importance Of Life In Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief Essay

The first lady, Michelle Obama says this, “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not be able to solve all of life’s problems, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own. ” Many people wonder what importance life has and this quote answers it all. Everyone is so important because everybody has the potential to do incredible things. Markus Zusak’s novel, The Book Thief shows us this. It is told from the perspective of Death and set during the time of the Holocaust.

The story follows a German girl, Liesel, who moves to live with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Huberman. It tells her story while she lived in Germany during World War II and how their family hid a Jew, Max, in their basement. Although the novel’s narrator might seem odd, Zusak wrote this book with a clear motive. His purpose was to show how death makes life precious. Those lives are so precious because they still had so much to live for. They could have had power to change the world but their lives were taken too soon.

Zusak’s purpose for writing his novel is to make the readers understand the value of life through the death of others The readers can see this from the death of Liesel’s brother, Werner. Werner was so young when he died and that made his death so impactful on Liesel. He did not have much time to live. He could have gone on to do great things. Liesel is strongly impacted from his death and sees how meaningful life is. In the book, after Werner dies, Death tells us about what Liesel is thinking. “For Liesel Meminger, there was the imprisoned stiffness of movement and the staggered onslaught of thoughts.

This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening. ” (Zusak 28) This obviously affects her greatly because later in the book, she has continual nightmares and often thinks about him. Since the death of her brother was so impactful for Liesel, the readers can conclude that she later understood the preciousness of life and how every person was important. Her brother’s death causes Liesel to see life in a different light and value it. When Max comes to stay with the Hubermans, she tries her hardest to make sure he stays alive. Someone else who is affected by the loss of life is Malala Yousafzai.

She is an activist for women’s and children’s rights and lived in Pakistan during the time when the Taliban was prominent. The Taliban was targeting girls because they did not feel women deserve education. In a biography about her it says “After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat, Malala gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008. The title of her talk was, ‘How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education? ’” (Biography. com Editors 1) Malala understood the importance of the lives that were taken and strived to impact others.

She began making speeches and publishing articles about the importance of women’s rights to education and made a change in education for girls in Pakistan. All of the girls who lost their lives could have gone on to change the world. They deserved the education they were supposed to have. Malala could have been hateful but she chose a different way of thinking. Instead of being vengeful for the lives lost, Malala understood the value of each life and was determined that this would not happen to others.

In The Book Thief, Hans is another person who learned about the importance of life through the death of another. Hans was serving in WWI when he met Erik Vandenburg, a Jewish accordion player who he becomes friends with. Erik saves Hans by volunteering him to mail letters while the others have to go fight. (177) Erik and the rest of the soldiers they were with die, except for Hans, who did not have to fight. All of the people who died had families and had so much potential. Hans then sees how significant life is and then vows to protect Erik’s family whenever they are in danger.

It is because of Erik that Hans does not have a prejudice against Jews. Later, when the Jews are experiencing hate and it is not safe for them in Germany, Hans takes in Erik’s son, Max. Hans sees how important it is to save as many people as he can, even if it is just one person. Every life is crucial and he sees this through the deaths of the soldiers in his unit. He wants to save Erik’s son Max because he wants a better future for him because his dad died so young. Someone else who saved Jews was Oscar Schindler.

He saw the horrors of the concentration camps and wanted to save as many people as possible. He used every resource he could to save them. In an article about his story it says “Oscar Schindler spent millions to protect and save his Jews, everything he possessed. To more than 1200 Jews Oscar Schindler was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the Nazis. ” (Louis Bulow 1) Before he was saving Jews he had a job of war profiteering. After he saw how many innocent lives were being taken by the Nazi’s he saw how valuable those lives are and promised to save them.

Those Jews whose lives he saved were now able to go on and do great things. They were able to live and that is the best gift Schindler could have given them. Ilsa Herman is another person who was impacted by death. Her son died in an accident many years ago and she still mourns his death. The death of her son made her kinder and more sympathetic towards Liesel. She later acts as a sort of mother towards Liesel. Even though Liesel was mean to her, she still shows her kindness. One example of her kindness is when she leaves a letter for Liesel and a dictionary (369).

Liesel said some hurtful things to Ilsa when she dismissed Rosa and has been stealing from her and she still treats her with respect. The death of her son obviously has affected her perspective of people and because she did not get to nurture her son, she wants to nurture Liesel. Her son did not have much of a life to live and she was not able to see him grow up. Therefore, when she sees Liesel, she wants her to be a good person and tries to influence her by treating her with kindness. Mahatma Gandhi also was a highly influential person who was transformed after seeing the horrors of death and war.

In a biography about him, it describes a massacre that occurred during his years a soldier for the British Army. It says “ Violence broke out instead, which culminated on April 13, 1919, in the Massacre of Amritsar when troops led by British Brigadier General Reginald Dyer fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed demonstrators and killed nearly 400 people” (Biography. com Editors 1). After this horrible event, Ghandi could no longer serve for the British Army and vowed to only use peaceful methods to gain freedom for India from Great Britain.

The deaths of those 400 people who were attacked changed him to be a peaceful person. All of those people’s lives had value and he did not want anyone else to lose theirs. His work is incredible because he not only contributed hugely to the freedom of India, but he did it through peaceful methods. He was determined to save as many lives as possible and knew the value of each one. Every person has a purpose. The readers can clearly see this through all of the influential people in “The Book Thief”. The narrator Death in “The Book Thief” also is a great example of how precious life is.

Hans sees this through the death of the people in his unit, especially Erik; Ilsa understands this because of the death of her son; Liesel sees this from her brother’s death. It is imperative to remember that every life is significant. This applies in real life as well. Malala Yousafzai, Mahatma Gandhi, and Oscar Schindler are all great examples of how death has impacted their lives, and how they understand the potential for all people. To answer the question what value does life hold, people have to realize that all people are important. Everyone has the potential to be amazing.

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