In the beginning of the book we learn Liesel is a 9 year old girl, just going into foster care due to the fact that her mother is a communist, which meant she was in danger to the nazi regime. Her mother was also very poor and with her father absent this suggested she was unable to feed her children anymore. Liesel’s younger brother dies on the journey to their new foster care, he drops dead suddenly. This suggests to the reader that before the train journey, Liesel’s brother must have been malnourished or exposed to a disease that their mother could not afford to get treatment for. This proves that before Liesel hopped on that train, Liesel and her brother were exposed to harsh conditions. Liesel is powerless when her mother hands her over to her foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann. She has experienced her brothers death, her mother has given her up to strangers and Germany’s environment is changing all around her, Liesel having no say or valued opinion about any of this. Liesel can be seen in this stage of the book to be struggling because of the affect her brothers death has on her, when the book says “Still in disbelief, she started to dig. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t”, the reader learns Liesel is greatly upset and doesn’t want to believe her brother is gone Liesel was surrounded by people who believed in this, she had to believe it to remain safe. However when Liesel finds out Max is living in their basement, the reader sees Liesel’s emotions mature and be willing to understand and be caring. The reader sees this change because Liesel chooses to keep Max a secret, and look after him reading books to take his mind off his horrible situation. This event of generosity and kindness on behalf of Liesel proves how far her maturity has come, from her arrival on Himmel Street. This is especially proven at the end of the book when a line says “They hugged and cried and fell on the floor”, when Liesel and Max reunite. This line proves the love Liesel gained for Max all because of her maturation which caused her to be compassionate towards others. She learns how to deal with everyday Nazi Germany, the thought of her mother’s death and Max’s separation from his beloved family, all through the comfort of reading books.
Hans provides comfort in most situations and we especially see this in the beginning of the book when Liesel first arrives on Himmel St. Rosa is harsh, and not very welcoming at first towards Liesel however Hans is much more loving at first talking softly with Liesel and helping her out of the car. Hans is a war veteran at this stage of the book, he has fought in world war one and it is clear he is not a fan of Hitlers new nazi regime. He avoided joining the nazi party which meant he was instantly judged by the community. Hans is a very good accordion player a skill her learns in WW1 from his former friend. The reader ultimately learns that Hans is a compassionate person who thinks for himself, his beliefs being very important to him, no regime is able to change that, this was especially seen when he leans down to help a jewish man that had been pushed over by soldiers. Markus Zusak may of included Hans as someone her guided Liesel through tough situations and assisted her in her maturation as any parent would with a child being their main influencer.
Rosa is short tempered and full of anger, we especially see this at the start of the book when Liesel first arrives and all Rosa is worried about is the absence of the boy. Death quotes,“Nobody wanted to be the one to tell Rosa that the boy had not survived the trip”. Everyone was slightly scared of Rosa, crossing her path would immensely rage her if the situation failed to go her expected way. Rosa refers to everyone as a saukrel or saumensch, she worries about their financial situation and is constantly ironing and washing other households clothes to bring in some money. Rosa is very short with a wrinkled face, and is known to sort out the behaviours of any children she looks after. Rosa teaches the reader that behind any harsh, grim person there is a soft side where that person is capable of loving.
Rudy doesn’t fear the nazi regime which proves how heavily his innocence exists. He loves adventure and acts carefree, he has a strong relationship with Liesel heavily caring for her welfare at all times throughout the book, keeping Max a secret despite Max’s situation. Rudy is a very good runner, we see him in the book pretend to be Jesse Owens, which is another event where Rudys innocence is proven, choosing to ignore societies expectations around dark coloured people. The author may of used Rudy in the book to prove innocence could exist in a world full of inhumane activities but also as a friend for Liesel to get her through the loneliness of her seperation from her mother.
Max is a jewish man, a son of Hans friend who saved Hans life in WW1. Hans owed Max’s family everything, so he took Max in to hiding from the Nazi regime. Max hid for months in the cold, dark, lonely basement. Here Liesel and Max created a friendship through Liesels kindness and compassion. The author may have chosen to include Max in the book thief to show that German civillians were not all brainwashed under Hitler, that even though there were consequences of not supporting the regime, and when the most likely human thing to do was go along with Hitlers actions, not everyone did. Some people remained strong and brave to do what they knew as the right thing. By having Max in the book this could prove this, that although the Huberman family had no money and very limited food they had the hearts to care for Max