Power of Words - the Book Thief

Words. It is words that Marcus Zusak arms Liesel to create a compelling narrative. Through the respect Liesel shows towards words, she masterfully utilizes words to try and make a difference. Liesel learns throughout the course of the novel that words hold a remarkable power to compel people to commit acts of cruelty and kindness. This can be shown in both episodes, the Hidden Sketchbook and the Gamblers 24th of June. At age 9, Liesel is illiterate, and the first book she learns to read is a manual about grave digging. Learning to read brings Liesel closer to the understanding that Hitler's propaganda is the root of his power and the reason why her mother, father, and brother are dead. Max, who understands the effect Hitler's propaganda has had on his race, helps impart this lesson through his allegorical story "The Word Shaker", where Zusak depicts the power of words for good and for evil. On the 24th of June Liesel adapts her words to, instead, harm an individual.

Liesel learns how to hurt with words where she, ‘summons them from some place she only newly recognizes’ in The Gambler chapter during the 24th of June, the Showdown. Until now, Liesel had only found words to be a force to heal, however in this episode we see her summoning the pain and destruction words can cause. Her voice ‘hooked at the woman’s throat’. The metaphor gives supernatural power to Liesel’s words as Zusak uses the mental damage she makes towards Ilsa more tangible to a wider audience, adapting this pain into physical actions. The pain Liesel conflicts on Ilsa shows the reader that spraying words may be just as harmful as a physical hurt. The lines ‘the injury of words, Yes, the brutality of words’ exemplify Zusak’s point of how he highlights the importance of words through the narrator, death.   Zusak goes on to write, at the end of Liesel’s onslaught of words, Ilsa becomes

‘Battered and beaten up…blood leaked from her nose and licked at her lips. Her eyes had blackened. Cuts had...