25th June 2018

2.1 Written Text Essay


Analyse how language features revealed the writer’s purpose in the written text(s)

Symbolism in the text: Colour, Books, Death


Black: Death always present who tells Liesel’s story – dark figure taking away the life of characters but he is also different. because he not stereotypical he almost preparing people for death because it happens to everyone. Rudy pretending to be Jesse Owens. Max hiding in the dark

White: Scene where Werner Meminger dies and has to be buried in the ground covered with snow. Cold, chilling, physical effects, sick, no food, hungry (Liesel and Rudy), Max is cold in hiding (pneumonia), Rudy being brave and going into the water, Frau Hermann punishing herself for her son who died frozen (she thinks).

Red : Blood of people, Nazi Germany flag, power, danger. Structure of each point: State the point, then explain with background details to the text, then quotations, then relate back to your symbolism and what it shows.

In the text, the book thief Colour imagery and the books are used symbolically in a physical and spiritual way which really shows the deeper meaning to the story. The author really captured the reader by having the books and colours as such a key part of the book. He used the different colours to represent so much more than the colour he uses black to represent diversity, the idea of hiding in the dark. He uses white to show the idea of being cold. He also uses red to show the idea of the Nazi flag. He uses the books to show the idea of death and to show the idea of someone standing over you and much more. These really capture the reader into continuing reading.  

Black colour symbolism is used to show the idea of diversity. Diversity is shown when Rudy a ten-year-old German boy who grew up in the era where he is ruled under the authority of Adolf Hitler. One day he decided to cover himself in black charcoal and run around the field pretending to be Jesse Owens. The lines that tell the reader this are “He smeared the charcoal on, nice and thick till he was covered in black. Even his hair received a once-over.”  By Rudy doing this it created controversy when his father found Rudy doing this. His father was astonished to see that his son was doing this before his eyes because it was considered not be ‘normal’. But Rudy the Innocent 10-year old that he was he didn’t let Owens race define him but Owens ability run as he was the fastest man alive. So he believes in order to be like Jesse Owens he needs to cover himself in charcoal. This shows diversity because Rudy doesn’t believe he is doing anything wrong because he doesn’t see Jesse Owens as different but an equal. Which really shows how much the world has changed since Hitler was around.

The colour black is also used to show the idea of hiding in the dark. This is shown when Max is hiding in the Humbemanns basement from the Nazis so they wouldn’t take him away as he was a Jew. The lines that tell the reader are “A small black room, in it sits a jew. He is scum. He is starving. He is afraid. Please try not to look away.” These lines tell the reader what it is really like for max hiding in the small black room hiding from the outside world not being able to move no more than around the room and given whatever little food Rosa could give to him as well as feeding her family. The black to me represents the gloomy feel to the room the darkness as they could not turn a light on cause then people will know someone is hiding out in there. The black also makes me think about how he is hiding out and must have this constant feeling of someone finding him and the black feeling is the feeling of darkness not knowing what will happen to him or the Huberman’s if they find him. The colour black represents such a gloomy depressing feeling. Being stuck in the basement knowing that you could be taken at any minute must have been torture on his mind. Let alone the room making him feel so cold and miserable and lonely knowing what might happen if they find him.

White colour symbolism is used to show the idea of being cold. This is shown when Rudy jumps into the freezing river to get Liesel’s book that had been chucked in there. The lines that tell the reader this are “A book floated down the Amper River. A boy jumped in, caught up to it, and held it in his right hand. He grinned. He stood waist-deep in the icy, Decemberish water.” This gives the reader the idea of how cold the water was by referring it to “Decemberish water.” Which shows it is referring to winter water in the northern hemisphere around December which shows how cold it would have been. The colour white to me also represent loyalty. This appears when Rudy is willing to jump into a freezing cold river and risk his health for Liesel’s special book. He didn’t take long for him to jump into the icy cold river to collect Liesel’s book this showed real loyalty toward Liesel.

Red colour symbolism is used to show the idea of the Nazi flag. The flag appears throughout the book but not always in a physical sense. The flag in a sense carries a burden from all the blood and tear it represents. The lines that tell the reader are “They’ll come for us, Mam warned her husband. They’ll come and take us away. They. We have to find it.” This shows how much the red flag represents it represents so much more than just flag but also blood, power, and the danger it carries with it. These represent the burden of blood that it holds when it’s in favour of all the thousands of innocent people who died just because Hitler had so much power. Power also represents the idea of red because of all the power the flag holds. The flag is a symbolism of Hitler in the sense of his power that reflects onto the flag. To show that what he believes is right and the blood he has shed is for his people. For this flag to say so much it shows so much red like danger which shows the reader idea of danger and fears that the Jews had for the flag and all that it represents and how the red also represents the idea of having a target on the back knowing that with every move it could be your last. Just like Max, he would have been so scared knowing the power that flag could have and the target he had on his back. The colour red in the flag represents a lot more than just the physical sense the power and story it had behind it.

The gravedigger’s handbook is a symbolism to show the idea of death. This appears when Liesel takes the book from a gravedigger who drops the book when he is burying her brother. The lines that mention this are “When he walked away, a black book fell innocuous from his coat pocket without knowledge.” The lines the state that Liesel picked this book up is ” There was something black and rectangular lodged in the snow.” ” She bent down and picked it up and held it firmly in her fingers. The book had silver writing on it.” This book shows the idea of death because it is a representation of the last place she saw her brother. This shows a symbolic side to Liesel because she takes an object from a gravedigger who buried her brother so that she would have something to remember him by. The gravedigger’s handbook is also a symbolism for the first time she stole a book. The book also represents her love for books as it was the first book she has ever read. But the book shows the idea of death because it represents that death is always there taking innocent lives like her brother and many others throughout the book.

Th standover man is used to show the idea of death. This book appears throughout the whole book in a symbolic way. But it first appears when the book is gifted to Liesel by Max. The lines that mention this is “Now I think we are friends, this girl and me. On her birthday it was she who gave a gift to me.” The book is important because it represents the friendship between Max and Liesel. Death represents the standover man as he is always there standing over Liesel and her family and friends. No matter if they want him there or not he’s there he standing over them taking loved ones from Liesel. The standover man also represents the idea of hunger. Lines that tell the reader this is “but it was the stealing that cemented their friendship completely. It was driven by one inescapable force – Rudy’s hunger. The boy was permanently dying for something to eat. ” This shows that Rudy has his own stand overman hunger and so does Liesel. Due to the war being on food was limited to the idea of hunger as the stand overman


The colours and books in the book have great significance to the book thief as they represent a lot of things that happened in the book and mean so much more then what you may initially think. Like the colour black represents the idea of diversity which is a good way to capture the audience and engage them in Rudy quest to be the fastest man alive and for him to do this he believes he must be black like Jesse Owens which is not considered to be right but that does not matter to him. Black also shows the idea of hiding in the dark which is a good reputation of max who is a Jew hiding in the Huberman’s basement so he doesn’t get taken away. By bringing the idea of the colour black it means so much more. The colour white showed the idea of being cold it showed the reader that white isn’t just a colour but a repetition of feeling cold just like Rudy did in the book when he jumped into the freezing cold water to save Liesel’s book.  In this scene, it also uses white to represent the idea of loyalty as Rudy risked his health to jump into the lake to save Liesels special book. Red showed great significance in the book as it showed the idea of the Nazi flag and the representation of power and danger the flag represented just by the colour red. The book in the book like the gravedigger’s handbook showed the idea of death which was so symbolic throughout the book as the narrator was death. The gravedigger’s handbook was such a symbolic book for Liesel as she used it as a representation of the last place she saw her brother alive this show a symbolic side to Liesel which become a key part of her story.  The last book was the stand overman as it represents the idea of death as well because Liesel has her own standover man death. Because he is also with her whether she likes it or not. Standing over her Taking her friends and family around her.  

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Heidi, there are some valid points in this practice essay, but you do need to develop your points more effectively. Try to keep your point and evidence simple – then include your reasons why these details might be important. I am not convinced that your “Standover Man” point adds a lot to this essay, and in a school exam, you would be better to develop your other examples which seem to be stronger in your discussion. Also, you do not need to write such a long conclusion – these overall “lessons” could be placed in your individual points.
    * Any further planning, or re-working of this essay for your exam prep will need to be completed on your own paper.


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