Literary Tecniques in “The Book Thief”

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Updated: Feb 19, 2020
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One literary technique Zusak uses throughout The Book Thief is foreshadowing. The narrator, Death, uses foreshadowing to hint at events that come later in the book. One instance is in the prologue Death says, “”The book thief had struck for the first time-the beginning of an illustrious career””(22). There are more than a few instances when the narrator, death, uses foreshadowing to keep the reader interested in the story and to further on certain thematic ideas in the novel. For example, death says that “”Hans Hubermann was not granted membership in the Nazi Party. Not yet, anyway”” (183). It is being foreshadowed that Hans Hubermann will be forced to join the Nazi Party at some point in his life. By giving us this piece of information, the narrator is causing the reader to be curious and wanting to know more. Zusak uses foreshadowing to give the reader a sense of what is to come. At the beginning of each part of the story, Zusak places a list of events that occur in that part. He writes the list of events to tell the reader what is going to happen which is another example of foreshadowing.

Another literary technique Markus Zusak uses is paradox. Death is a paradox in the book because in reality death is not living. Death cannot have emotions, cannot decide and cannot form opinions about those who live and die. Since the Markus Zusak gave death the voice of the narrator and a character in the book, it is paradoxical. Another example of a paradox is when Death says, “”She was the book thief without the words””(80). A book thief implies that the thief has a way with words;due to the fact that she is stealing a book. As the books are being stolen however, the thief still does not have the words even though she should.

Personification is yet another literary technique used in The Book Thief. Death is also personified as well as paradoxical. Zusak takes the concept of death and makes it a character and gives him human characteristics. After Rudy Steiner dies it is described as death ‘ taking him away’, but Death expresses sadness. Death does not have a heart, but as a personified character Death does.

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Literary Tecniques in "The Book Thief". (2020, Feb 19). Retrieved from