The Usage of Foreshadowing in The Book Theif

Authors use a variety of literary devices to make a book more interesting and keep the reader in suspense. The author of the “The Book Thief”, Markus Zusak, likes to use the literary device called foreshadowing. He makes the book suspenseful, revealing how characters die early on and telling the reader the outcome to certain events. By revealing how characters die early on and telling the reader the outcome, Zusak makes the novel more suspenseful with his use of vague descriptions of the scenes which he is foreshadowing.

In the book, Zusak tells the reader early on that Rudy, one of the main characters, is going to die. “He didn’t deserve to die the way he did”. Zusak then tells the reader how he died and two years later he is going to die. “Recollections like those merely remind me that he was not deserving of the fate that met a little under two years later…He’d have been glad to witness her kissing his dusty, bomb-hit lips. ” Rudy dies from a bomb. The question the reader would have is; two years from what?

That’s what leaves the reader in suspense–the fact that the reader knows Rudy will die in two years, but does not know exactly when those two years start. This is a way Zusak tells us the future without giving us all the details. With just a little information, the reader is eager to read more about the situation and satisfy his curiosity. Alex Steiner and Hans Huberman had to serve the same punishment? “Alex Steiner wouldn’t have suffered the same punishment as Hans Huberman.

At this point in the book, the reader wouldn’t know that why Hans and Alex would be punished or what their punishments would be. We know from this quote that they would be punished and their punishment would be the same. But this leaves the reader with questions like: What is Han’s punishment? Why is Alex Steiner being punished? Why is the punishment the same? These questions have yet to be answered. Zusak is giving the reader a statement that raises questions that are not answered until later in the book, making the novel more suspenseful.

Towards the end of the book, Zusak gives the reader a look into when the world ended for Liesel Mimmel, the main character. “I must warn you that it was raining when the world ended for Liesel Mimmel….. Rudy Steiner slept. Mama and Papa slept. .Fra Holtzapfel, Fra Diller. Tommy Muller. All sleeping. All dying. ” In the foreshadowing, Zusak tells the reader that everyone dies around Liesel, which is why her world ended.

This leaves the reader in suspense because Zusak only tells the reader what happens–not when it happened, why it happened or why Liesel was still alive. These quotes from “The Book Thief” mentioned were examples of how Zuzak makes this book thrilling. By using vague descriptions of scenes, Zusak is foreshadowing which makes the reader want to read more to satisfy the reader’s curiosity. This is how Zusak made “The Book Thief” so interesting and how, when a reader picks up the book and starts reading, the book is hard to put down.

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