The Book Thief Family Analysis

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People have many different ideas of what a family truly is. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief challenges those ideas and causes readers to question if they actually know what a family is or not. Throughout the book, several characters face problems including losing their family, and figuring out who will act as a family to them. Zusak’s purpose in writing The Book Thief was to show that there are many different types of family by using examples of the foster system, taking in someone who needs help, and birth families who are broken.

Some people may not consider adopting or fostering a child to be the way to create a “real family”. This is because their definition of family is limited to family related by blood. However, family is not limited
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Family friends who need help are often taken in and become part of that family. Zusak shows this through Max Vandenburg in The Book Thief. He is a Jew - someone Hitler wants either locked up in a concentration camp or dead. The Hubermanns know how dangerous it is to hide a Jew, but Hans and Max’s father were friends. So, with the simple line, “Do you still play the accordion?” (Zusak 173), Max is accepted into the Hubermann household without hesitation because Hans and Rosa both understand that friends can be close enough to be considered family. Barbara Preusch, a German whose family hid Jews during World War II, has felt friends become family firsthand, just like what happened to Liesel and the Hubermanns; “We shared everything with them: our beds, our food stamps, our joy and our fears.” Similar to the Jews hid by Barbara Preusch’s family, Max extends the Hubermann family during his stay there and proves that a family friend can be family just much as someone related to birth might…show more content…
This example is exhibited in Hans, Rosa, and Hans Junior. They have been torn apart by different opinions about the war. Many families in today’s society are separated by varying opinions, just as Hans Junior turned his back on his parents because he agreed with Hitler when they didn’t. “The young man was a Nazi; his father was not. In the opinion of Hans Junior, his father was part of an old, decrepit Germany--one that allowed everyone else to take it for the proverbial ride while its own people suffered,” (Zusak, 104). Today, similar disputes happen between families when children support something their parents don’t. Sometimes, children are able to reunite and reconcile with their parents. But often, like with Hans Junior, they never get the chance. Zusak shows us an example of a broken family that never had the chance to repair not only to show another example of family, but to make an effort to prevent more broken families. He wants to give families the advice to, “Never stop being connected, right up to the end, and sometimes even after,” because no one knows when the end will come and it will be too late to reconnect.

In The Book Thief, Zusak displays several examples of how families can go beyond a birth family by writing about a foster child, a family friend, and a broken birth family. Throughout the book, the idea of a “real family” is challenged over and over again,
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