The literaryelement “Diction” is the key to understanding the theme of this novel.
Dictionand theme are key elements in The BookThief. Markus Zusak’s story The BookThief is a powerful novel about a girl, named Liesel Meminger, whose lifechanged just by finding a book in the snow. As Liesel learns to read, with thehelp of foster father, she begins a relationship with books and words. Shebegins to steal books from wherever there are books to be found. Zusak’s storyreveals the theme that the way the author portrayswords in this story shows how the power of words can affect someone’s survival.Diction is important because it reveals the theme through Hitler’s use of words.
Diction is significant because it also reveals the theme through Max’s use ofwords, and lastly Liesel’s use of words. In Markus Zusak’s the Book Thiefthe literary term diction is significant because it helps a reader understandthe theme in different ways. The wayMarkus Zusak uses “Diction” in the story TheBook Thief helps thereader to illustrate the theme of this story through Hitler’s use of words. Theword choice of this book reveals that Hitleris a physically weak man. Hitler was described as “a strange, small man” (445).It promotes the idea that Hitler is physically weak. He had to use his words tooutsmart and trick people in order to survive.
The purpose of this word choiceseems to show that Hitler is being a hypocrite because he is a very small and weakman. That is often not the feeling created with the antagonist of the story.This word choice is important because even though Hitler was small his use ofpowerful words was big.
The word “strange” is being unusual or hard tounderstand. When one is “small” that can mean tiny, minor or unimportant, whichis ironic because Hitler thinks that way of the Jews. This word phrase seems topurposely pit the reader even more against Hitler. Therefore, diction causesthe reader not to like this character. “She was listening contentedly to thetorrent of words spilling from his mouth. His sentences glowed in the light”(20). This proves that he charmed people with words. Words were the only powerhe had.
Without Hitler’s manipulation and mindset, he would not have survived. Areader forms the idea that the purpose for this word choice seems to be that itcreates an emotional understanding of Hitler’s manipulative ways. This wordchoice leads a reader to feel sorry for Liesel and everyone else who islistening. In this word phrase the author describes Liesel to be “listeningcontentedly”.
When someone “contentedly” listens, they are usually listeningwith satisfaction or happiness. The word “torrent” is a sudden or violentoutpour of words or feelings. This choice of words shows the reader just howcruel and scheming Hitler is. The diction causes the reader to feel sorry forLiesel and dislike Hitler.
Hitler’s use of words was beneficial to hissurvival. Dictionreveals the theme through Max’s use of words in many ways. When Max was sick, he used Liesel’swords to keep him awake which helped his survival. “Then I’ll read to you. AndI’ll slap your face if you start dozing off. I’ll close the book and shake youtill you wake up. He sat in bed and absorbed the words” (334). A reader getsthe idea that Liesel is a compassionate person when it comes to someone shecares about.
The purpose for this phrase seems to be that it creates anemotional liking between the reader and the character Liesel. The word “slap”is to hit or strike someone violently. This notifies a reader that Liesel wouldeven be violent to her friend, Max just so he wouldn’t die. The word “absorbed”is to take in or assimilate. When someone is absorbing something, like informationideas or explanations, they usually are digesting or taking in whatever theyare receiving.
This informs a reader that Liesel’s words made it easier andmore comfortable for Hans, which was beneficial for his survival. Deathexplained to us in the novel how someone else’s words helped Max’s survival. “Itwas only two words he ever tasted.
Mein Kompf. My struggle-the title,over and over again, as the train prattled on, from one German town to thenext. Mein Kampf of all thethings to save him” (160). Max used someone else’s words to his advantage,having Hitler’s book allowed him to survive. The reason the author chose thisword choice is because it builds an inner connection between a reader and Max. Thisword choice shows how a book about Hitler’s struggles indirectly saved a Jew.Therefore, this word choice leads a reader to feel sorry, but also happy forMax. The word “tasted” can mean experience the flavor of or have experience of.
This tells a reader that Max experienced the words of Hitler’s book. Even withhis hate towards Hitler he “tasted” the words and experienced them. Overall,Hitler’s words saved Max. The way Markus Zusak uses “Diction” in the story The Book Thief helps the reader to illustrate thetheme of this story through Liesel’s use of words. While everyone was in theair-raid shelter Liesel was reading a book.
“Hans Huberman came closer andcalled out, and soon, a quietness started bleeding through the crowdedbasement. By page three, everyone was silent but Liesel.” “The youngest kidswere soothed by her voice” (381). The words calmed everyone. It was a life ordeath situation, and Liesel’s words helped calm everyone. This lead toeveryone’s survival being comforted.
The author chose these word phrasesbecause it goes to show just how effective words can be in any situation. Theword “bleeding” in this situation can mean the quietness started to go throughand affect everyone. Everyone in the room got quiet to listen to Liesel. Thistells a reader that people were starting to get calm and listen to the wordsfrom Liesel’s mouth. The word “soothed” means to relieve or ease. This informsa reader that the kids were being relieved of their fear. Liesel’s wordsaffected her and everyone in the basements survival. Liesel survived an unexpected bombing while reading herbook.
Words saved Liesel’s life. “She survived because she was sitting in thebasement reading through the story of her own life” (498). The reason theauthor chose this word phrase is because it proves that words helped Lieselsurvive. This all shows how words can affect a person’s survival. The word”survived” means you manage to keep goingin difficult circumstances or you continue to live or exist.
This makes areader feel happy and proud of Liesel. Thediction in this word phrase reveals the theme that strength of words can affectsomeone’s survival. Liesel’s use of words helped her survive.In Markus Zusak’s novel theBook Thief uses the literary element “diction” to reveal the theme throughLiesel’s, Hitler’s, and Max’s use of words. I have learned that authors usesdiction to obtain different reactions from the reader. I have also learned howpowerful words really are through reading this book.
WORKS CITEDZusak, Markus. The Book Thief. NewYork :Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.