The Theme of Individual vs. Society in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Vanderbilt University
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The theme of individual vs. society is tremendously depicted in The Book Thief and considerably appears one of the major issues that make up the novel. In The Book Thief, there are many instances where the smaller, personal world of Liesel interacts with the larger German society of the World War II, in addition to the Holocaust that surrounded them. Fundamentally, the book provides Liesel a better world than the one she lives. In this way, she has a better society when she is in her world. In this way, reading books emerges as something Liesel can control as an individual and therefore can prevent the great actions of bullying from other societal members. The act of reading the books appears as her appropriate approach of exerting the control on one society other than the life. Through reading the book, Liesel gets to understand that Hitlers propaganda is the root of his power and the reason for the death of her family members. In another instance, Max actions make her defy the Fuhrer through elements of love and compassion.

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Max is another character whose actions and life throughout the novel depicts the theme of individual and society. Ideally, when Max paints over the Mein Kampf, it appears as though he is establishing a beauty from something that can cause destruction. His actions appear as a rebellion to Hitlers misleading ideas on the Germany. On a wider note, the pearl of analogy begins unexpectedly as a mistake but is bale to be transformed into a valuable bead (321-329). Fascinatingly, it appears that something wicked and undoubtedly terrible such as the Holocaust can bring positive consequences. On a wider note, it can be observed that Max is building his society through painting Hitlers society, which all people are forced to be without any options. Because he well understands the effects of Hitlers propaganda on a particular race, Max actions help impart the lesson he knows through his allegory story, The Word Shaker. It broadly offers the discussion regarding Hitlers utilization of the oratory techniques to mislead the German society and force people to rebel against the Jews.

Hitler actions also constitute to the theme of individual vs. society in the novel. Ideally, Hitler used Mein Kampf as his propaganda within his community with the aim of influencing the perspective of the Germans towards the Jews. The words asserted with belief and power massively convinced many people to rebel against the Jewish society. However, the characters such as Max do not conform to Hitlers propaganda, as he knows its effects. Being a Jew in Germany at the time the Nazi reined, Max Vandenberg rebels and therefore helps fulfill the individual vs. society issue.

Hans Hubermann also fulfills this thematic issue through his actions. As a German, the society requires him to conform and live within its principles without any signs of disobedience. In the novel, however, Hans goes against Nazis principles by hiding Max in his apartment and ultimately provides him with bread. During the reign of the Nazi, Germans were prohibited from associating with Jewish societies and members, based on the perspective and the propaganda that had been imparted to them. Hans disrespects these principles and therefore helps readers understand the antagonism between individual and the society.

Work Cited

Zusak, Markus, and Markus Zusak. The Book Thief: I Am the Messenger. New York: Alfred A Knopf Inc, 2014. Internet resource.

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