Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

1. ‘The impoverished always try to keep moving, as if relocating might help. They ignore the reality that a new version of the same problem will be waiting at the end of the trip – the relative you cringe to kiss.' (p 25) Discuss.

2. Rosa Hubermann seems unlovable (p 35) and yet she has a lot of love to give, and ‘was a good woman for a crisis.' (p 230) Are seemingly angry people simply protecting themselves from the hurt which inevitably lies in human relationships? Discuss.

3. How ordinary people tolerated the excesses of Nazism is illustrated by the points made by Alex Steiner (pp 61-2). Such movements prey on insecurities, on fear of unemployment and loss of livelihood, of poverty, and of not being able to support one's family. ‘there was an itch in his heart, but he made it a point not to scratch it. He was afraid of what might come leaking out.' (p 62) Later the narrator explains that ‘it would all have come to nothing had the Germans not loved one particular activity – to burn.' (p 90) Compare this to global and Australian toleration of atrocities today.

4. Discuss narration in this book.

5. Punishment for a moral transgression must always be made personal for people to really fear it. Hans warns Liesel not to reveal that they are harboring a Jew, by threatening to take those things which are most precious to her. (pp 219-221) This is a metaphor for the need to always ‘feel' the consequences of a crime…to ‘feel' other people's pain. Is our affluent society insensitive to other cultures and their pain?