The colours in the Book Theif can be perceived in so many different ways. In the text, Colour imagery is used in a symbolic, physical and spiritual way which really shows the deeper meaning of the story. The author Markus Zusak really captured the reader, by having the colours as such a key part in the book. He used the different colours to represent so much more than just a colour. He uses black to perceive the idea of diversity. It also perceives the idea of a jew hiding in the dark. He uses white to perceive the idea of being cold. He also uses red to perceive the idea of the Nazi flag. These mean so much more than what you may initially think but deeper you go the more you will understand.
I believe the author used black colour symbolism, to perceive the idea of diversity. This is shown when Rudy a ten-year-old German boy decided to cover himself in black charcoal and run around the field pretending to be Jesse Owens. Because he grew up in the era of Hitler this was considered to be wrong, as Hitler didn’t agree that black people were equals. Unlike then in today’s society, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing to run around a pretend to be Jesse Owens right? But back then it was different and the young boy that he was it didn’t matter to him that Jesse Owens was black, but that Jesse Owens was the fastest man alive. This all comes down to the era and authority that Hitler had above everyone and what he said trumped all their rights, values and beliefs. From this, We can perceive that the author is trying to show that because of all the authority that Hitler had over the people around, he was able to push his beliefs and values on to them even though they weren’t necessarily right. He got the idea into people’s head that racism was good and that people like Jesse Owens who was black should not be treated the same and not be condoned for their achievements. But Rudy was different as he was only a young boy he didn’t understand the idea of racism, he didn’t look at Jesse Owens and see that he was black and looked away. But he looked at him for achievements and being black didn’t bother him because he didn’t understand that he was considered to be ‘Different’.
The colour black is also used to perceive the idea of a Jew hiding in the dark. This is perceived when Max is hiding in the Hubermanns basement from the Nazis, so they wouldn’t take him away as he was a Jew. The lines that tell the reader this 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 the room around him. Also given whatever little food Rosa could give to him as well as feeding her family. The black to me also represents such a gloomy depressing feeling to the room, as they could not turn on a light as people would know that someone is hiding out in there. The black also makes me think about how it must have felt for him hiding in the basement, having that constant feeling that the Nazis will find him. The black also perceives the feeling of darkness not knowing what will happen to him or the Huberman’s if they find him.
White colour symbolism is used to perceive the idea of being cold. This is perceived when Rudy jumps into the freezing river to get Liesel’s book that had been thrown in there. “He stood waist-deep in the icy, Decemberish water.”This quote 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. White colour symbolism is also used when Liesel’s brother Werner Meminger passes away on the train and he is buried covered in the snow. This also perceives the idea of being cold because of the aspect of him lying in the cold hard ground covered in snow. But because it was in the winter in the northern hemisphere it would have been so cold as his sister Liesel and Mother standing there watching there son and brother being buried in the cold snow.
Red colour symbolism is used to perceive 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 tears it represents. In the book, there is a chapter about Hitler’s birthday. Where the Huberman’s can’t find the Nazi flag and they begin to panic. There is a line that represented all the power that the flag had over them which was “They’ll come for us, Mama warned her husband. They’ll come and take us away. They. We have to find it!” These lines are so powerful because it shows the authority the red flag represents. It was 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. The colour red in the flag represents a lot more than just a flag by the lives of millions of innocent people who lost their lives, due to power.