Joshua JenkinsMs WitriakENG2D1January 16, 2018Similarities Between The Book Thief and Lord of the FliesImagine, the whole world is against you, hunting you down, you cannot trust, you are in hiding.The Book Thief takes place in Nazi Germany and focuses on the lives of Liesel Meminger, Max Vandenburg, Hans Hubermann, and Rudy Steiner, while Lord of the Flies is about a group of young boys stranded on an island after a plane crash. Despite having different settings, characters, and plots, The Book Thief and Lord of the Flies share many similar main themes.
These themes include loss of innocence between characters in both novels, the struggle for survival against society, and abusive power seen in both novels.The main characters in The Book Thief and Lord of the Flies go through similar losses of innocence. In The Book Thief, one of the main characters, Liesel Meminger, starts losing her innocence when her brother dies, and she is haunted by this sad death for many months, in the form of nightmares. Another main character, Max Vandenburg, suffers extremely hard times as a young child, growing up as a Jew in Nazi Germany. Therefore, his loss of innocence occurs when Hitler rises to power and he is forced away from his family and into hiding. Rudy Steiner, another main character, most likely starts losing his innocence when everybody in Molching crushes his dreams of being like his idol, Jesse Owens.
“Still in disbelief, she started to dig. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t-” (Zusak 23). This quote shows that Liesel Meminger lost her innocence very early on in her life when her brother died and soon after her mother left. In this scene she is trying to deny the fact that her brother really died and is trying to dig up the frozen ground to get him out alive.
This eventually causes her to be better equipped to deal with harder times later on in life, and makes her more understanding and mature. Other points where she could have lost her innocence if her brother never died could be when she finds out how and why the Jews are treated, when Max gets sick, when Max leaves, when Hans Hubermann leaves for war, or when Rudy dies. Meanwhile, in Lord of the Flies, the main characters Ralph and Jack are the ones that lose their innocence throughout the novel. Ralph starts off on the island as an innocent young boy just wanting to go home, as most of the other boys also do. But some of the other boys, like Roger, already have a bit of savagery in them and have probably lost their innocence prior to their time on the island. Ralph, however, is completely civilized until the thrill of singing and dancing and pig hunting gets to him.
Ralph’s loss of innocence occurs when he hunts his first pig and gets caught up in the little game of stabbing Robert after, and if he does not lose his innocence then, then he does when he joins in on the killing of Simon. When Jack first hunts a pig, he did not kill it. He does not slit its throat like he says he is going to do, not because he does not get the chance, but because he is too innocent and does not want to spill a living thing’s blood.
Jack’s loss of innocence occurs when he kills his first pig, “I cut the pig’s throat,’ said Jack, proudly, and yet twitched as he said it.” (Golding 73). This quote shows how things have changed in Jack since the beginning of the novel when he chooses not to kill the pig when he has the chance. At first he cannot bring himself to slit its throat, but now he is gloating about it and making sure everyone knows it was he who killed the pig. Killing this pig not only lost his innocence, but it also started Jack’s obsession with killing and blood. Killing this pig could also metaphorically represent Jack killing his childhood, as there are many metaphors in this novel. The Book Thief and Lord of the Flies also both have characters who struggle to survive against society, or a large group. In The Book Thief, the character struggling for survival is Max Vandenburg, a Jew in Nazi Germany hiding in different places to avoid being found.
He has had to survive in a room with very little food for a long time, and when he makes the trek to the Hubermann’s, he is in constant danger from being discovered as a Jew. Even when he makes it to the Hubermann’s, his movements are described as being silent and careful, like he is still afraid a Nazi will hear him inside the safe house. He is so used to being in constant danger that he cannot live any more normal than he has the last few years of being in hiding.
He also gets sick while living at the Hubermann’s, from being in the freezing basement at all times, so he has to stay strong and survive without any professional help from a doctor. “He was not welcome there, and he tried not to look back as the stale bread disintegrated in his stomach. A few times, he shifted again and watched the lights become only a handful and then disappear altogether. Look proud, he advised himself. You cannot look afraid. Read the book. Smile at it.
It’s a great book, the greatest book you’ve ever read. Ignore that woman on the other side. She’s sleeping now anyways. Come on Max, you’re only a few hours away.
” (Zusak 158). This quote is describing the normal thought process and constant fear felt in a hidden Jew in Nazi Germany. He can be caught any second, and everyone is a threat to him, even sleeping ladies in the train across from him. If he is caught, he will be tortured and killed. Even when he gets to the Hubermann’s, and there is a sense of security there, Max is constantly in a battle for survival, as is every Jew during this time, hidden or already found. He narrowly escapes capture when the Nazis come in to check the Hubermann’s basement, and again after Hans gets in trouble for throwing the Jews bread in the parade. He escapes death when he wakes up after being very sick for an extended amount of time with no help from a doctor.
The character fighting for survival in Lord of the Flies is Ralph. He is being hunted after SamnEric are tortured and forced to join Jack’s tribe, which includes now all of the boys. He also has to fight for survival earlier on, he has to find food, find shelter, the island they are on may be a paradise but the boys cannot survive without trying.
The following scene is Ralph’s thought process when he is being hunted, “Someone cried out. Ralph jerked his cheek off the earth and looked into the dulled light. They must be near now, he thought, and his chest began to thump. Hide, break the line, climb a tree- which was the best after all? The trouble was that he only had one chance.” (Golding 220).
This quote describes Ralph’s fight for survival against the boys on the island when Jack turned them all against Ralph and told them to hunt him down. His only friends are now dead or on Jack’s side, and he is debating his chances of survival when they do find him. This scene shows the reader how scared he is to be alone against everyone on the island. Against one or two people, survival is simple, but it is nearly impossible when all of society is against someone.
The Book Thief and Lord of the Flies both have very strong examples of abusive power. In The Book Thief, the character who abuses their power is Hitler, and all of the Nazi’s also abuse their own power throughout the novel as well. During this time that the book takes place, Hitler has already risen to the top, and everyone follows him in Nazi Germany, if they do not, they suffer the consequences, torture, possibly death, which is just one of the ways he abuses his power. He makes everyone hate the Jews just because he does not agree with their religion, and he and all the Nazi’s punish them for it as well. “When they arrived in full, the noise of their feet throbbed on top of the road. Their eyes were enormous in their starving skulls. And the dirt. The dirt was molded to them.
Their legs staggered as they were pushed by soldiers’ hands- a few wayward steps of forced running before the slow return to a malnourished walk.” (Zusak 391). This quote is illustrating the Jews in Nazi Germany, walking through a crowd of Nazis and Germans. Without the abuse of power by Hitler at this time, this quote would instead be describing regular people walking through a town full of their friends. Adolf Hitler, otherwise known as the Fuhrer in this novel, rose to a position of power by planting words in everybody’s heads, that Jews were wrong and they should be shunned, which eventually grew to killed.
He gets people to torture and kill men, women, and children, all because he thinks his beliefs are the only answer. This is the opposite of what a good leader should be like. He convinced everyone to follow him, and then when he reached the top of the food chain he punished, or got people to punish for him, anyone who had a different opinion from him. In this scene the people who follow him are humiliating a group of Jews who have done nothing wrong except, according to Hitler, choosing the wrong religion. The abuse of power shown in Lord of the Flies is not nearly as high scale as Hitler, but there is still a distinct power abuse throughout the novel. In Lord of the Flies, the character who abuses power is Jack. At the start of the novel, Ralph is the one who is voted chief, but he allows Jack power over his choir, and he abuses his power very early on when he chooses to take the boys to hunt instead of keep the signal fire going.
While Ralph is smart about being leader and is focused on getting rescued and going home, Jack does not care about any of that, or the boys and his own survival, as he is too obsessed with being chief. Jack finally persuades some boys to join his tribe and leave Ralph’s, and soon he has all the boys on his side. “Jack spoke. ‘Give me a drink.
‘ Henry brought him a shell and he drank, watching Piggy and Ralph over the jagged rim. Power lay in the brown swell of his forearms; authority sat on his shoulder and chattered in his ear like an ape.” (Golding 165). This quote is one of the many examples of Jack abusing his power.
Although this act of making someone get him a drink is harmless, it still shows that he has no respect for the boys following him as leader and treats them terribly. While Ralph was voted the leader, Jack just took ownership of the title of chief, taking over the boys, basically using them as slaves and not doing anything for himself except hunt. He also tortures them for his own amusement just because he can and no one will challenge him because of his title of leader. He made it seem like it was the right choice to follow him over Ralph, lots of singing, dancing, hunting, but instead he just becomes obsessed with killing, and some of the boys realized that Ralph was the better leader after all, and that he actually has his priorities straight and is trying to get rescued. In conclusion, The Book Thief and Lord of the Flies share many similarities. The Book Thief is a novel by Markus Zusak about a little girl and her foster family in Nazi Germany, who take in a Jew named Max, and have to hide him from the outside world.
Lord of the Flies is a novel by William Golding about a group of boys who get stranded on a tropical island with no adult supervision and must try to work out their problems and get rescued. These two novels share many different themes despite having many differences about plot, setting, and characters. This is because both novels have a loss of innocence between characters, similar survival struggles, and leaders who abuse their power.Works CitedZusak, Markus.
The Book Thief. New York :Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Print.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. London: Faber Limited, 1954. Print.