The nature of the human race is intriguing in such a manner that it flexures between the divine realms of sweet and bitter. Perhaps it is this contradicting factor of humanity that contributed in inspiring Markus Zusak to write The Book Thief. These contravening dualities of humanity, are demonstrated most ironically through the narrator Death, who is inhuman. The observations Death makes during the Nazi regime, and the description he provides of himself and other characters all bring about the significance of the contradicting faces of humanityDeath during his narration gives insight and a unique perspective upon his experiences during the Nazi era, that of which are based on the significance of the contradicting faces of humanity. Death describes a human being as a recipe, that consists of “so much good”, “so much evil” and finally you “just add water.” (164).
This metaphor refers to water as representative of our atmosphere. Moreover, water is the only item not given a quantitative description, which goes about demonstrating that the atmosphere, or metaphorically the amount of water, may differ. Hence, this also implies that the outcome of a human is different based on their atmosphere.Death is then conflicted as he always finds “humans at their best and worst” and experiences “their ugly and their beauty” and is unable to comprehend “how the same thing can be both.
” (491). Not only is he unable to penetrate how the human race is capable of possessing these two polar-opposite faces, but he then claims that he is “haunted by humans” (550) as they are able to make peculiar moral choices. Near the end of Death’s narration in the novel, he wished “to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality”, and “wanted to explain” that he is “constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race”, in fact he “rarely ever” can simply “estimate it”, thus conveying that the human race is unpredictable. Moreover, he “wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious” (550). This indicates that despite all the experiences Death has witnessed during the Nazi era, he is still unable to penetrate these astonishing, yet terrifying qualities of human nature.
Furthermore, the severity of the dualites can range on a variety of measures, as shown throughout the Nazi era, which only adds to its terrifying factor. As a result of the extreme exposure to the imperfect nature of humans, Death is petrified, yet does not realize that this behaviour lies also beneath him.Not only does Death bring about the dualities through his overall atmospheric observations of the Nazi-era, but also through the description of his initial self. Death begins his narration with a small depiction of himself.
He claims that he “most definitely can be cheerful” and can also be “amiable”, “agreeable” and “affable”, which areis “only the A’s” to his continuous list of positive traits, although “most people find themselves hindered in believing” him, no matter his protestations. However, as taking away lives of the living is his role, he insists that he is not not nicereports to not ask him to be nice, as “nice has nothing” (3) to do with him. Therefore, without intention, has already exposed his inner bitter and sweet qualities.
As Death takes the life of another character, he pleads the reader “to believe” that he iswas not as monstrous as others believe, as he “wanted to stop”, felt guilt and sympathy, and “wanted to say “I’m sorry, child””, despite the fact that it was “not allowed” and was forced to witness the pain the little girl was experiencing as he “watched her awhile.” (13). This aids in bringing about the sweet side of Death that no one had once believed existed. Since even Death possesses the dualities of humanity, who is inhuman, it conveys to the reader that no matter who we are in society, or how perfect we believe we are, we must acknowledge that everyone possesses sweet and bitter sides. What makes this realization ironic, is the very fact that these dualities partake in the embodiment of Death, who isn’t human to begin with, Taken together, the evidence implies that Death, although unintentional, brings about his own sweet and bitter attributes, thereby demonstrates that no matter how perfect we believe we are, everyone contains both of these dualities.Through Death’s recounting of Liesel Meminger’s story, the dualities that lie inside the other characters in the book are also brought into context.
Deaths’ description of other characters is yet another example as to how he brings about the significance of the dualities of human nature. His description of Rosa Hubermann, the foster mother of Liesel Meminger, is an evident example used throughout the novel. Rosa’s treatment of Liesel was indeed harsh as . “The deluge of abuse from Rosa” (33) includingconveys as her constant critiquescs make and scolding is her evidently bitter side. However, as the novel progress, Death declares that she was in fact “a good woman for a crisis” (211) as she possessed the ability to maintain order in the household through difficult times, a very special positive trait of Rosa. In addition, Death concludes that “she possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anyone she ever met”, which indeed wasn’t positive, however “she did love Liesel Meminger” though “her way of showing it just happened to be strange.
” Although “it involved bashing her with wooden spoons and words at various intervals” (35), it was nonetheless because she cared deeply for Liesel, thus exposes both the bitter and sweet side of Rosa Hubermann. In Rosa’s case, her opposing faces are in fact not extreme, which goes to show that although we all possess these contradicting qualities, it is not presumably all bad. Moreover, in most cases, it is fairly simple to adjust to them, as in Rosa’s case, Liesel realizes that Rosa’s constant abusive nature was her manner in showing her love towards her, and decides to accept the flaw. The human race resembles a mechanism with a broad structure, such as an airplane.
Given the example of an airplane, the basic airplane model is very broad, however, every airplane manufactured consists of its own unique components, hence making it advantageous in some cases, and costly in others. The human race has a broad structure where these faces happen to be part of, however every individual is unique, as we all possesses different positive traits and different flaws. It is the severity of these flaws that determines whether it is possible to cope with or not. Markus Zusak brings about the sweet and bitter dualities of human throughout The Book Thief, however what’s ironic is that it was most clearly demonstrated through Death, whom is inhuman himself. Not only does Death demonstrate through his insights of the Nazi era, but also through his descriptions of other characters and through himself.
Taken together the evidence displayed throughout the book, it implies that it is important to acknowledge the presence of these polar-opposite components of humanity. As we come across many people, societies, and witness many experiences during our lifetime, the recognition of the dualities with not only make us more aware of the behaviour of the our surroundings but also provides the necessary knowledge acquired in order to react properly. In the situation of Rosa Hubermann, her flaws are practically sensible to cope with, hence acknowledgement is in practical sense the most reasonable. However, in the sense of Nazi Germany, the situations are utmost imprudent and insensible, thereby recognition is not sufficient in order to restore peace.
Taken together, whether we notice one’s flaw, or we note a widespread disruption in society, it all boils down as to how we manage the dualities; to decide we accept them, or to decide we withstand them, all lines in the hands of the severity of the opposing dualites.