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Conflict Within The Book Thief: What Makes This A Good Book

January 25, 2011

The Book Thief is set in WW2 and involves a girl named Liesel who was a communist, and is Hans’ foster daughter. Hans (the one that I’m focusing on) was a soldier in both WWs. Max is a Jew living in Hans’ basement, Rosa is Hans’ wife, and Hans Junior is Hans’ son.

There is a type of conflict in the story, ‘The Book Thief’. One type of conflict would be Hans feeling that he shouldn’t join the Nazi party, but knowing that he’ll have to soon. Hans, the protagonist and theoretically, the antagonist, in this internal self conflict, had his life saved by Erik Vandenburg, a Jewish soldier,  in WW1. He feels that he must honour his friend by not joining up with the party, but knows that he’ll have to eventually if he wants to him and his family to survive. For the character vs. society type of conflict within this, Hans is still the protagonist, but the antagonist is the Nazi beliefs. The Nazi party ends up forcing Hans to join them as a result of helping out a starving Jew on the road. Hans is sent to serve in the military. This is a loss for Hans, but a definite win for the antagonists. I think that Hans will survive this war because in the story, it said that Hans’ seat would end up killing one of his team members. Based of of my knowledge from earlier on in the book, I think that Hans would be back at base dong some ridiculous job for his superior, just like in WW1, and another soldier would be killed while sitting in Hans’ seat.


There is a second type of conflict in the book. This type of conflict is an external conflict, with a character versus character, involving Hans and his son Hans Junior. I would classify Hans as the protagonist with Hans Junior being the antagonist. In this ongoing conflict Hans Junior despises his father for not volunteering to join the party as soon as it came into power. Hans still loves his son, but is angered at him for thinking that a party that hates a whole ethnic group of people, is is a good to support. Hans does however still think that there is hope for them to reunite even though Hans Junior is now fighting in Russia. I think that Hans might see Hans Junior again, as they are now both in the military. For now, Hans is only in Germany, but as the need for fighting soldiers increases, I think that Hans will get pulled into Russia. If Hans does go to Russia, I think that he’ll meet Hans Junior there. If he doesn’t see him alive, I think that Death will reunite them. I think this because Hans and Hans Junior have an unresolved conflict and a good book resolves its conflicts. Also, after the war has taken its toll on Hans Junior, he’ll realize it’s better to keep people you care about close and try to reunite with Hans.

Janne M

There is one more type of conflict in ‘The Book Thief’ that I’ll talk about. This type of conflict involves Hans thinking that the Nazi beliefs are wrong; Jews should be treated equally with everyone else. Hans is the protagonist and the Nazis are the antagonists in this external conflict involving a character vs. society conflict. Hans knows that the Jews are not to blame when it comes to the economy’s downfall of Germany, along with the blame for the rest of the Nazis’ lies. The Nazis laws end up causing many people to join them, but Hans rebels against them until he is forced to obey them and join up with the party. He is later sent to the army since ‘any party member would be more than willing to help out on the front lines’. This is a win for the antagonist, but a loss for Hans. I predict that Hans will stay alive in the army, but get either an arm or a leg blown off. I think this because Hans has left his accordion back at home, and during the bombings he did that to say that he will come back to his house alive. Hans did the same when he was summoned to fight in the war, but since he is older than most of the rest of the soldiers, I think that he’ll be injured. However, since he has experience from WW1, he should come back with minor injuries, or at the most, one limb short.

Krystal T


From → Schoolwork

  1. Mr Fisher permalink

    You have done an excellent job on this post. It is well written and the pictures add a lot to our understanding of it. I think the conflict between Hans and his son is an interesting one in this story. It is one that I cant really figure out. I dont know why Zusak, as an author would put in the story. It is an interesting choice to me that I really don’t understand.

  2. This is a very interesting post. I think that it is descriptive and it is organized. Do u think Hans feels like he didn’t keep his promise? Why did you think that Hans and his son would at war or meet with death instead of meeting each other at home?

  3. frontflip687 permalink

    The thing that I don’t get in The Book Thief is that Hans is going the army because of his friend and job. Yet he is fight with the guys the are killing Jews yet his friend was a Jew.

  4. Cole permalink

    I really enjoyed on how you explained the conflict about being in war and being Man vs Society well and how you were thinking he was coming home with some sort of injury. Now that we’ve read the next part of the book, it seems you’ve had a pretty close prediction. Good Job!

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