The Use of Foreshadowing, Irony, and Symbolism in The Book Thief

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The Book Thief Short Essay: The Use of Foreshadowing, Irony, and Symbolism in The Book Thief


In The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, the narrator uses foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism. “Here’s a small fact, you are going to die” (3). As readers, we are engaged in the story because we are part of the story. The narrator, who is a personified death, is referring to the readers when he says “you”. Here, it is foreshadowed that many people, including the reader, will die in the near future. This is verbally ironic because death refers to this as a “small fact”, even though the subject of death is usually considered a significant and sensitive topic. This statement symbolizes the insignificance that narrator feels towards human life. In The Book Thief, death lets us know about crucial events that will happen later in the book to keep the readers interested. Literary devices such as foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism keep the reader engaged in the story and portray certain thematic ideas.

Foreshadowing in The Book Thief is one literary device used that some readers love and some readers hate. There are more than a few instances when the narrator, death, uses foreshadowing to keep the reader interested in the story and to further on certain thematic ideas in the novel. For example, death says that “Hans Hubermann was not granted membership in the Nazi Party. Not yet, anyway” (183). Here, it is being foreshadowed that Hans Hubermann will be forced to join the Nazi Party at some point in his life. By giving us this piece of information, the narrator is causing the readers to be curious and wanting to know more. This foreshadowing blends in with the thematic idea of war because by joining the Nazi Party, Hans will have to go fi...

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...t Max gave to Liesel as a gift. This book represents the power of words, and how words can make a difference in a person’s life.The readers are engaged because it is interesting know the back stories behind these books when we read about them in the novel. Finally, Hans’ accordion symbolises comfort in The Book Thief. When Hans leaves to go fight in the war, he leaves his accordion at home with Rosa and Liesel. This is the moment that Liesel know that Rosa truly does love Hans, although she might not show it. “Liesel watched. She knew that for the next few days, Mama would be walking around with the imprint of an accordion on her body” (429). Rosa, Liesel’s “Mama”, keeps the accordion close to her heart because it reminds her of her husband, Hans, whom she misses so much. In The Book Thief, symbolism attracts attention to certain thematic ideas and the novel itself.

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