Liesel Meminger as a Girl “With a Mountain to Climb“
Liesel Meminger is the main character of the book The Book Thief. She is a small but very strong girl who has suffered too much in her life. Death narrates this story, describes the main characters, and gives us his own opinion about humans. He says that Liesel is the girl “with a mountain to climb.” Liesel’s first mountain to climb is learning to read. “And she loved the fact that despite her failure in the classroom, her reading and writing were definitely improving and would soon be on the verge of something respectable” (Zusak, 2005).
She wants to learn to read for school and because of her own desire and passion for books. “While Liesel sometimes joins up with a gang to steal food and the like, her only thieving passion is for books. Not good books or bad books — just books. From her bedroom to the bomb shelter down the road, reading helps her commune with the living and the dead — and finally, it is the mere existence of stories that proves to be her salvation” (Green, 2006).
But her main mountain to climb is the way she passes from being illiterate to understanding how powerful words can be. Liesel reads to a sick Max and believes that it will help him. She reads to people in the basement because it calms them. The story written by Max helps Liesel to understand the remarkable power of words and how they can be used. It describes Hitler’s use of oration to rule the German people, but the young girl is capable of fighting him with words of compassion and love. Liesel falls into despair after seeing Max on the way to Dachau, and rips up a book in Ilsa’s library, wondering what good words are. Ilsa Hermann gives Liesel a book and convinces her to write. Liesel writes the story of her life, ending with the line, “I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right” (Zusak, 2005). This line shows us Liesel’s understanding of the power of words and her attempt to write for good purpose.
Death says that Liesel is a girl “with a mountain to climb” because, in the hard time of World War II, this girl was able not only to survive but also find something that inspires her and encourages other people. She did not lose her courage even when she lost all her family and friends. Despite all the bad things happening in her life, we can believe that Liesel Meminger continues her life as one of the strongest and most kind people, a person loved even by Death.
Green, R. J. (2006, May 14). Fighting for Their Lives. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/books/review/14greenj.html.
Zusak, M., & White, T. (2016). The Book Thief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.