Book Thief Response #1

January 28, 2010

DUE 2/4: 5 PTS

Respond to the cover of The Book Thief. What is your eye drawn to and why? What message or messages does the cover convey? What predictions can you make based on the images?



  1. The dominoes on the cover of the book are the main objects on the cover. They represent a series of events that will no doubt unfold because of a first event. This event will set off a chain reaction that will determine the outcome of the book. The message that is sent by the cover is that the things you do can set off a series of events that can affect you later on. Also the curve at the beginning of the domino chain shows a beginning that starts of with a twist, but straightens out with consistency as the book moves along.

  2. Shane, I agree with what you wrote about the dominoes creating a chain reaction. I also think that because the dominoes are being pushed over by a person’s finger, that Markus Zusak wants to show how what one person does can effect everything around him/her. Last week I read an article about the topic of “Determinism vs. Randomness”, which is the idea of everything happening for a reason, versus events just randomly occuring by no specific cause. The chain reaction concept could show how Zusak believes that something is always caused by another event, or is determined rather than random. Another example of the theme of determinism in the Book Thief’s cover is in the dominoes themselves. These dominoes are not set up in just any random order. Notice that the first domino has six dots at one end and then five at the other. The next domino has four dots at one end and three at the other, as if in a determined pattern. What are the chances that two dominos, containing two sides, with six combinations per side, end up in a perfect order? And lastly, shane why did you leave your post at one a.m. on a friday?

  3. I agree with Shane about the chain reaction as well. I also agree with Dan’s observations of the dot patterns on the dominoes.The twist in the dominoes’ path is interesting because it does straighten out. The dominoes also move from light into dark. This may be foreshadowing negative events that may occur. Also, the dots on the dominoes become less easily seen, and by the end, the dominoes are completely black. This may show that problems in the book may become harder to solve as the events pass.

  4. I agree with the domino effect interpretation, however I disagree that the hand is a specific person’s. I think that the hand represents fate and the dominoes are the chain of events that will take place. Taking into consideration what Nikki said about how the dominoes become blurred as the chain goes along, I think that this symbolizes how humanity can predict events that may happen in the near future but the farther away from the present, the harder it is to guess what might happen.

  5. Hey Dan I also noticed the pattern. But I do not think that they were set up by chance, I think the repeating pattern is to show Liesel’s actions. The domino with the six and five could show when she steals/is given a book and then the domino after it shows reactions to her getting the book. Nikki I think the dark dominoes may symbolize the end. They could symbolize Death’s part in the book, because the line starts to get straight and that could mean the end. I just have one question…well it is for Ms. Shanley. What is the website box? because I did not put anything in it.

    • The dominoes definitely relate to a series of events that can take a turn for the worst based on the lighting Niki talked about. I also think the dominoes tie closely to the overall setting of the plot, Nazi Germany. Zusak might be trying to connect to the main character’s struggles, Liesel. Living in an unstable environment, your world could come crashing down at any moment, like a domino effect perhaps. In addition, the finger on the cover of the book may symbolize death, the narrator, one of the few things that has the ability to change lives, alter emotions, adn knock you down.

    • I agree with all of you on the concept of the domino effect. The light may symbolize the freedom and equality that was present, and the dark symbolizes the lack of freedom and equality under Hitler’s rule. I feel that the finger on the cover represents the initial trigger of the change, and that push influences the rest of society. The Finger may be Hitler, or just Nazism. Also the curve of the dominoes, that leads to straight line stood out to me. It shows how an alternation in someone’s life is unsteady at first but then as time progresses it becomes more consistent. I am questioning if the number of dots on the dominoes have a meaning. Also what do the little dots in front of the dominoes mean?

  6. I agree with everyones assumptions that the dominoes on the cover must represent some sort of chain reaction. However, I think that the dominoes are representing more specifically about Liesels hardships she will face. To most people, setting up dominoes can be a difficult process in which you try your best to not knock over the previous domino. Therefore, I feel like this is resembling some complex and difficult situations Liesel will have to overcome. I also agree with Nikki’s observation on the darkening of the dominoes. It seems it is bright then begins to get dark then lighter again. This could suggest Liesel will face some dark and difficult times, but in the end will make it through, or perhaps go to heaven, which the light represents.

  7. I agree with everyone’s theory of the dominos having major significance. However I believe it symoblizes something very different. I think the hand belongs to Death and that each domino represents a person. When a domino is knocked over that means that person has died. Everytime someones dies in the story, it takes the story to the next point in the story. Each death in the story moves the plot along. The Book Thief is a story driven by death.

  8. I definitely agree that the dominoes respresent a series of events that will occur throughout the story and the pattern of the decreasing dots on each domino is very interesting. I think that maybe the domines may even tie to the overall setting of the story, world war II in Nazi Germany. Zusak may be trying to connect to the obstacles Liesel will face as her unstable environment could be easily “knocked down” at any moment.Maybe the finger on the cover even represents death,something that has to ability to cause your world to be disrupted and coming crashing down.

  9. I agree with all of you when you say that the dominos represent a series of chain reactions. And I also agree with Dan that the dominos are not just placed in a random order. You can see the pattern within the visible domino numbers, which are placed in the same order from 6 to 1(or at least the way I see it). However, I have to disagree with Alicia’s interpretation of the hand pushing the dominos. I believe that this could possibly represent the start of Liesel stealing books, which leads to the chain reaction of events symbolized by the dominos.

  10. I think that the dominoes were already set in place and they were waiting for someone or something to set them off, like Liesel or her brothers death which is a significan event that guides the whole story. In the picture, the domino line goes straight and curves and back again. When it is straight, this could show something good that has happened, like Liesel getting a new book. The curves could show a bad event, like someone dying, but Liesel always recovers somehow because the line always ends up straight.

  11. I agree with all of you on the concept of the domino effect. It represents the chain of events that will occur througout The Book Thief. I think the curve of the dominoes in the beginning has a significant meaning that reflects the plot of the book. The direction of the dominoes shows the gradual influence, but then as time progresses it becomes more consistent. I feel that the finger on the cover represents the intial triger, that starts dramactic change in Germay. The light may symbolize the freedom and equality life and the dark symobolizes the lack of freedom and equality that will exist in Germay under Hitler’s rule. I am wondering if the dots on the dominoes have a meaning, and what are the dots in front of the dominoes?

  12. I agree with nicole that the first domino triggers the events later on in the book and represents when she steals the first book. Also, I noticed that none of the dominos have as many dots as the first one, and this may show that as events unfold, life (represented by each dot) is slipping away. Each domino that falls could also represent someone dying since the book takes place during World War II.

  13. I think kathryn has a very good point. Although we all agree that the dominos represent some sort of chain reaction, which series of events is the author referring to? The idea that setting up dominos is a very difficult task might be a great representation of the difficulties in life. I feel as though the dominos symbolize the fact that everything we do has an effect something else. Whether it be an effect on someone else or on our own future. Every step we make will have a domino effect on someone somewhere, no matter how big or how small the effect is.

  14. I like Jenna’s idea that the dominoes’ dots represent that life may be “slipping away”. The evidence is substantial in the fact that the book takes place during World War II, in which many deaths took place, but also in the point of view of the story. As Death is the narrator of the story, it is certain that the reader is going to witness many events in which people die. Is it the chain of events that the dominoes represent that lead to the death of all these people? Perhaps the book is going to highlight the events leading to and during the war, and how one person caused these affects, as the book cover depicts one person’s finger tipping the dominoes.

  15. I completely agree with the whole concept of the dominoes symbolizing a chain of reactions. I also agree with Nikki’s statement of how the light foreshadows negative events that will come. The light could also represent the deaths that will be occurring due to one man’s reaction, which is like what Megan stated. I do not fully understand the dots on the dominoes concept other than it is unusual. The hand on the cover may be the narrator or it may be a leader. If the hand represents a leader then the dominoes could symbolize the followers of a leader. By the narrator pushing the first domino, it would be like forcing a person or group of people to follow the belief. If a person did not follow the belief proposed, during this time period they would most likely be killed which relates back to the light to dark concept.

  16. I also think the dominoes represent a chain reaction of events that is going to happen in the story. I agree with Alicia’s point that the hand symbolizes fate, and also Madison’s idea that the dominoes are already set up waiting to be knocked down. I think the dark, foggy colors are used to emphasize the darkness of the story specifically the narrator being death. I noticed the dominoes are black with white spots as opposed to the typical white with black spots, perhaps to show the contrast of good verses evil, and that the dark evil is surrounding the light good.

  17. Obviously the dominoes represent a chain of events, however, I think that they could also stand for life being a sort of game for death. Death makes it seem like collecting the souls of the dead and following Liesel and her actions is a hobby of his. The hand could represent the hand of Death and that by tipping over one domino (taking someone’s life), it will undoubtedly lead to another death, another piece of the puzzle or component to his game.

  18. Ok for everyone that says the dominoes are a change of events I agree and I also agree with Delaney that the finger would represent the narrator (Death). In the line of dominoes you also see it get darker and darker which makes it seem that this chain is never ending which is true because people will never stop dying, unless of corse people stop being born. On the top of the cover it also gets a little bit lighter but the dominoes lead into what looks like a dark abis which somewhat symbolises where the dominoes are to fall because once you die there is no coming back to the light.

  19. ID just like everyone to know i just typed out a really long response then my internet crashed. it was really awesome. but ANYWAY. i think we have all established that the dominoes symbolize a chain of events. but i also think that the curving at the beginning is symbolic of the trauma and unexpectedness of the holocaust. As demonstrated in last years reading, Night, eventually victims of Nazi Germany formed a routine and lost all feeling. They were no longer affected by death and only tried to survive each day. This is shown by the straight line of dominoes that forms. The darkness and distance as the line of dominoes extends could also symbolize how the victims lose touch with reality and their old lives as they experience the holocaust. sooo yea.

  20. I’m going to agree with everyone else on the dominoes causing a chain of events. I also agree with Danny way up at the top that the author is trying to show one person can change the lives of everyone around them which is why there is only one finger pushing the dominoes down. I think that the finger also shows that humans are responsible for their own fate and that the people only have themselves to blame for the holocaust. Well of course i don’t mean the people killed but everyone else is responsible for what happened because they sat back and watched it happen. That is why the dominoes continue to fall because another hand is not there to break the chain.

  21. Sorry i never responded, better late then never i guess…anyyyways, I believe the finger is representing Death, (the narrator) like Delaney. He is bringing down each domino to represent his control over the people. The color scheme of the front cover is black and neutral, gloomy colors. To the narrator, color is an important part of life. These colors clue you into the mood of the novel, you can infer it is not going to be a story full of joy and happiness all the time. Each domino is spaced evenly. This represents that although things can be perfectly thought out and done, they can still fall down and fall apart. Like the dominos, death can occur when you least expect it. It can also be very expected, represented by the finger pushing the first domino down. This domino will definately fall.

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