“There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow, only the girl saw it. she bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. the book had silver writing on it.” it was that moment Liesel had stolen her first book, a gravedigger’s handbook. the book symbolises important things to Liesel, Some of these things being to do with determination, a certain feeling, and even thoughts or trends. The Gravedigger’s Handbook represents love, memory, change and strength for Liesel. The handbook first appears when Werner’s burial takes place on the side of the train tracks. Liesel and Werner were riding on the train with their mother when Werner passed, meaning he had to be buried on the trip. This meant a lot of trauma for Liesel, not only that she was about to say goodbye to her mother for a new family, but she just lost her brother too; meaning she was going into an entire new life alone. Liesel and her mother were standing on the side of the rail tracks in some strange place. The gravedigger’s had finished filling her brothers grave, when the 14 year old apprenticed boys handbook fell out and landed in the snow. Liesel then picked up the book deciding to keep it. Liesel keeps the book, throughout the journey and even to her new home with the Hubermanns. She hides this handbook by keeping it under the sheets of her bed, ensuring neither of her adopting parents find it. She keeps this handbook because it is the last piece of memory she has with her mother and her brother. Her keeping this handbook keeps them seemingly ‘close’ or ‘linked’ to her, and makes her feel like a part of them are with her. “On her first night with the Hubermanns, she had hidden her last link to him – the gravedigger’s handbook – under her mattress, and occasionally she would pull it out and hold it”. This quote would suggest that Liesel very much so misses her family as you would expect. When it says “and occasionally she would pull it out and hold it.”, we are presented with her missing her brother, and holding the book to almost make out she is holding a part of her younger brother again. This is proven when it says “The point is it didn’t really matter what the book was about. it was more what it meant that was more important”. Her carrying around this seemingly unpleasant book around with her about death, and her holding it to her as a symbolism of her family makes me or people as an audience feel for Liesel and her innocence.
In the same sense, the gravedigger’s handbook symbolises not only memory and family to Liesel, but education and learning. In the beginning of the text, we quickly learn Liesel has no education, in fact she can’t write let alone read. She never felt the need early on to know what the books purpose was, she only loved the meaning behind it. Liesel as anyone would predict would’t be able to teach herself how to read, and she didn’t intend on asking for help doing so to read the book. The book was Liesel’s own secret. However, one night after Liesel had a nightmare resulting in a accident in her bed, Hans found the handbook when changing her sheets. “when he reached under and pulled at the fabric, something loosened and landed with a thud. a black book with silver writing on it came hurtling out and landed on the floor.” Hans then talked to Liesel about it, asking if it was her book. “it is yours – yes papa – do you want to read it? – yes papa – well we’d better read it then.” Hans had obviously realised she was hiding it, then right after he learnt she couldn’t actually read it. Hans then began to help Liesel read, even though he wasn’t much good himself. Four years later, Liesel was more capable to read. She had learnt through the school to read and write, but her biggest supporter and encouraged her the most of everyone.
“First up is something white. Of the blinding kind… it felt as if the whole globe was dressed in snow.” Colours were used a lot to describe scenarios and sceneries by death. Death being the narrator and death himself, he saw everything. He questions use using colours, asking things such as “what colour will everything be at the moment when i come for you? what will the sky be saying?” perhaps asking us how we think we’re going to go with what colour sky we last see and him too. Whether we’re seeing red for violence, white for peace, black from destruction, blue and yellow with happiness, or what. The use of colours too, is used to describe Liesel. The first time he saw her, was white. The white was used to describe Liesel’s younger brother Werner’s death on the train ride to their new foster home.When this soul had passed, Death said he saw white; not any shade other that it was blinding. The idea of white referring to death is the idea of what that person was or meant. Werner’s existence to Liesel was innocent, young as well as deserving; to her his soul was a peaceful one taken too soon. Therefore when death first saw Liesel she was surrounded by the colour white, representing the theft of a pure soul.
“The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness… Then, bombs.” The idea of red symbolism was crucial and important, and symbolises so much to death and to Liesel. Red symbolises death, violence, the nazi flag and in this case bombing. The quote used above is not only stating that there is tragic deaths and bombing, but it is a flashforward. This quote is presented to us in the beginning of the book by death, meaning he was not only giving us a taste of what was to come; stated one of the three colours and major life events for Liesel. When the quote says the sky was like soup and was stirring, it means everything was going wrong and lives were being taken violently. As well with saying there were black crumbs and pepper, which were the resulting ashes. This quote from death was important because it not only symbolised that things were going bad, but that Liesel’s world was going to be turned upside down. Then as time goes on, the bombing takes place resulting in the death of all her loved ones. “the hot sky was red and turning. Pepper streaks were starting to swirl and i became curious.”