The Book Thief Reader's Guide

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  1. Discuss the symbolism of Death as the omniscient narrator of the novel.
  2. What are Death's feelings for each victim?
  3. Describe Death's attempt to resist Liesel.
  4. Death states, "I'm always finding humans at their best and worst.  I see their ugly and beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."(page 491)  What is ugly beautiful about Liesel, Rosa, and Hans Hubermann, Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner and Mrs. Hermann?
  5. What is Death haunted by humans?
  6. What is ironic about Liesel's obsession with stealing books?
  7. Discuss other uses of irony (besides Liesel's stealing books) in the novel.
  8. The Grave Digger's Handbook is the first book Liesel steals. Why did she take the book?
  9. What is significant about the titles of the books she steals?
  10. Discuss why she hides The Grave Digger's Handbook under her mattress.
  11. Describe Hans Hubermann's reaction when he discovers the book. (The Grave Diggers Handbook)
  12. What does the act of book thievery teach Liesel about life and death?
  13. Explain Rudy's reaction when he discovers that Liesel is a book thief.
  14. How does stealing books from the mayor's house lead to a friendship with the mayor's wife?
  15. Explain how Liesel's own attempt to write a book saves her life.
  16. Liesel believes that Hans Hubermann's eyes show kindness and from the beginning she feels closer to him than to Rosa Hubermann. How does Hans gain Liesel's love and trust?
  17. Debate whether Liesel is a substitute for Hans's children, who have strayed from the family.
  18. Why is it so difficult for Rosa to demonstrate they same warmth toward Liesel?
  19. Discuss how Liesel's relationship with Rosa changes by the end of the novel.
  20. Abandonment is a central theme in the novel.  The reader knows that Liesel feels abandoned by her mother and by the death of her brother.  How does she equate love with abandonment?
  21. At what point does she understand why she was abandoned by her mother and by the death of her brother.
  22. How does she equate love with abandonment?
  23. At what point does she understand why she was abandoned by her mother?
  24. Who else abandons Liesel in the novel?
  25. Debate whether she was abandoned by circumstance or by the heart.
  26. Guilt is another recurring theme in the novel.  Hans Hubermann's live was spared in France during World War I, and Erik Vanderburg's life was taken.  Explain why Hans feels guilty about Erik's death.
  27. Guilt is a powerful emotion that may cause a person to become unhappy and despondent.  discuss how Hans channels his guilt into helping others.
  28. Discuss how Hans channels his guilt into helping others.
  29. Explain Max Vandenburg's thought, "Living was living.  The price was guilt and shame." (page 208).
  30. Why does he feel guilt and shame?
  31. Compare and contrast the lives of Liesel and Max Vandenburg.  How does Max's life give Liesel purpose?
  32. At what point do Liesel and Max become friends?
  33. Max gives Liesel a story called "The Standover Man" for her birthday.  What is the significance of this story?
  34. Death says that Liesel was a girl "with a mountain to climb" (page 86).
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The Book Thief Reader's Guide
2014-03-25 04:36:36
Reader Guide

Reader's Guide discussion questions
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