Similes in The Book Thief

Instructor: Jennifer Snyder
In this lesson, we'll learn about similes and look at some examples of similes that are found in 'The Book Thief', by Markus Zusak. Let's read on to learn more.

What Are Similes?

You're as sly as a fox. You have eyes like a hawk. What do these sentences have in common? They're all examples of similes. A simile is a type of phrasing known as figurative language that uses the words 'like' or 'as' to compare one thing to another. Similes are used to enhance writing and create vivid visuals for readers. Let's look at some example of similes in The Book Thief.

The Mayor's House

Liesel's new mama, Rosa, cleans laundry for work on occasion, and one day Liesel joins Rosa to pick up dirty laundry. They go to the mayor's house. Mama tells Liesel to go to the door while she stays back to watch from afar. When Liesel knocks on the door, the mayor's wife answers in her bathrobe: ''A woman with startled eyes, hair like fluff, and the posture of defeat'' describes how the mayor's wife looks to Liesel. 'Hair like fluff' implies that her hair was not done for the day.

Animal-Like Choppers

In another scene, Rudy and Liesel have one piece of candy that needs to be split into two. They both end up trading sucks for ten licks each, back and forth until it's gone because Rudy is unable to break it with his teeth.

The author uses the simile ''far too tough, even for Rudy's animal-like choppers.'' The message that the author is conveying is that Rudy has human teeth that are super-strong like an animal, but not strong enough to break the candy in half.

Animal-Like Choppers
Animal-Like Choppers

Rudy and Liesel's Relationship

When Rudy and Liesel are walking home from school one day, Liesel is overcome with grief. She is struggling with her past experiences, particularly the death of her brother. Rudy stays with her and supports her through this difficult time by simply standing there with her in the rain. Although he has feelings of love for her, he does not let on to this. He holds in his feelings, time after time, valuing their friendship.

When the narrator states, ''Trust me though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain,'' it implies that she will value his words when the time is right. He never conveys the feelings he really wants to express to Liesel. He is her buddy, instead, and makes sure to keep it that way for the time being.

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