The historical Nazi Germany based novel The Book Thief written by award winner writer Markus Zusak contains a story which designates how selfless actions spare other individuals’ lives. The protagonist Liesel Meminger is repeatedly shown to do risks to protect an endangered Jew who is running away from the Nazis as they had a terrible regime which showed injustice to minority populations, or more specifically, Jews and communists. The character Liesel Meminger undergoes a dynamic change in the novel once being exposed to love and friendship from other characters such as the Hubermanns (her foster parents and Rudy Steiner (her best friend).
Due to Max’s suffering, Liesel was able to become aware of the social innovation issue Germany was facing at that time, which was the injustices Nazi Germany poured out on minority populations, especially Jews. Liesel’s overall transition, which is moving from a selfish and naive little girl to a selfless knowledgable young woman, is proved by Liesel’s countless sacrifices made for Max’s wellbeing. It also comprises off Liesel showing determination and commitment to help her financially struggling family with chores and tasks and finally Liesel serving and comforting members of her community after the tragic bombing done by the allied forces. In short, the involvement of love in Liesel’s life helped to shape her from a troubled, selfish and ignorant girl to a compassionate, mature and selfless adult.
In the start of the Novel, Liesel was a character who was shallow towards others as she was hesitant to make friends and wasn’t very comfortable living with Hans and Rosa. However, later on in the novel, Liesel gets more comfortable and establishes a strong relationship with her people who are supposed to be her family/close companions. For example, when seeing Max suffering, she replaces her shallowness with compassion. Her commitment and sacrifices for Max’s wellbeing shows her newly developed selflessness. She continuously places herself in unsafe circumstances and explicitly changes her way of life to serve Max. Liesel would, in fact, risk her life and almost defame her reputation to simply serve Max.
This is seen when Liesel steals books from the mayor’s house and when Rudy Steiner tells her to leave the building. However, Liesel refuses to listen to Rudy and says “I need this book, no matter if I get caught. It will save someone’s life” (423). This statement from Liesel indicates that she prefers to get caught for stealing than fail to provide service that conclusively gives her no gain and shows that she matures into a individual who is compassionate about putting other people’s needs above herself. This causes Liesel to be miserable and lose a portion of the delights of her day to serve Max, which shows maturity and a newly developed desire to help those in need. This is seen when Liesel’s mum Rosa notices how much time and effort she is dedicating to giving Max company and sympathetically requests Liesel to play a game of soccer yet still Liesel states, ‘Max is more important to me than a small game of soccer.” ( Zusak 367).
Liesel playing soccer with her buddies is undoubtedly a major piece of Liesel’s day. This demonstrates Liesel is able to forfeit her delights to serve people who are in need, thus showing a great deal of maturity. Furthermore, Liesel would risk her life and nearly stain her reputation to just serve Max. This shows Liesel would prefer to dedicate her life to serving her community. Previously, Liesel wouldn’t miss playing soccer on Himmel street for the world. However, this showed that Liesel learnt how to put aside her happiness for the betterment of others which proves her transitioning from a narrow-minded little girl to a selfless, mature individual.
From the very beginning of the novel, Liesel was not keen on obeying her foster parents’ commands or requests. For instance when Liesel refuses to get out of the car when Rosa explicitly tells her to when she first arrives at Himmel street. Or when Rosa is seen repetitively swearing at Liesel for refusing to take a bath. This continuously leads to fights happening within the family thus tearing it apart debate after debate. As these fights continue to happen, Liesel suddenly moves on to becoming selfless and mature as she comes to the realization that she should loosen up the tension by voluntarily helping out Hans’s painting job and obey Rosa by delivering washed and ironed clothes to the mayor’s house.
Liesel cherishes her dad more than any other individual in the story as the two of them have a tight bond. So Liesel reliably serves Hans as a nice gesture to her dad. This is seen when Hans Hubermann sets off for his job and advises Liesel to read her book while he’s gone. Yet, Liesel can’t and says “I want to come with you papa, I want to help you paint because you helped me read,” (178). Liesel’s statement to Hans proves that Liesel develops a sense of maturity and integrity as she is willing to help Hans to compensate him for putting in countless hours into helping her read. Liesel additionally serves her mum Rosa Hubermann as she sees how the thought of Hans leaving to battling in the war depresses her. So Liesel chooses to help and cheer her up in any way possible. This leads her to do cleaning work and do more chores, showing even more integrity and maturity.
This is seen when Rosa advises Liesel to rest while Rosa went to Frau Meminger’s home to tidy it up. Rather than Liesel resting she instead tidies up the kitchen and when Rosa returns she states ‘I wanted to see you smile after that saurkerl had left.’ (451).This statement shows that Liesel cleans the kitchen to offer happiness to Rosa and make her grin. This demonstrates Liesel’s service to Rosa and is viewed as generous or selfless as she didn’t serve Rosa to pick up anything but to make somebody who she sympathizes more joyful. To top it off, Liesel’s support to the Hubermann family is selfless as she continuously feels the need to offer satisfaction to her family after a heartbreaking occasion that made Hans do battle.
In the start of the Novel, Liesel was ignorant towards others as she hesitated to make friends and was hesitant to establish relationships with other members of the Molching community. For example, in part 1 of the novel, Rudy approaches Liesel and does his best to start up a conversation with her. Liesel on the other hand, responds by saying that she wasn’t interested in making friends and advises Rudy to leave her alone. However, later on in the novel, Liesel abandons her introversion and makes many companions and replaces her ignorance towards people with empathy as she understands the struggles her community goes through in this dark era of Germany.
When the second bombing occurs Liesel understands the fear that the member of her community was going through, therefore proving her to transition into someone mature. Her empathy towards the members of her community causes her to read a book to distract the people inside the bunker from the bombs being dropped by the allied forces. However, when Rudy asks her why she read the book she said: “I knew those saukerl were scared and I knew that reading would calm me so I decided to read aloud,” (436). This statement produced by Liesel indicates that she read the book to make members of her community calmer. However, the motives behind her actions indicate that she feels empathy for her community and therefore lead her to decide to serve everyone by reading the book. Additionally, Liesel also serves individual members of her community as she understands that these people have similar problems like hers, proving her transition from being ignorant and stubborn to considerate and compassionate.
This is seen when Liesel starts reading to Rudy’s mom and Liesel starts to explain to Rudy’s mum why she read the book “I understand what you’re going through. My papa is also gone and I want to help ” (476). This statement from Liesel indicates that Liesel and Frau Steiner share a close bond and demonstrates how Liesel understands the struggle Frau is going through, proving her to be compassionate. This ultimately results in Liesel reading the book to Frau Steiner as she believes that reading will ease her tension. This indicates that Liesel ultimately serves Frau Steiner due to the fact that she understands her struggle. Liesel Meminger service towards her community is ultimately selfless as she understands their problems and she doesn’t want them to struggle as she had.
In conclusion, Liesel Meminger has transitioned from selfishness to selfless as her service to her community and her family proves it Liesel’s introverted and selfish personality at the start of the novel leads her to not care about her community or her foster parents. For instance, when she beats up Ludwig, when she refuses to obey Rosa and when she instructs Rudy to leave her alone when he tries to befriend her. However, later on in the novel, she transitions to become selfless as she serves people willingly and she risks her life or sacrifices her time to serve the people she cares about.