“The Book Thief” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” -AnnaRose Chaney


Two books recognized as literary works of art, and  noted for their unique voice would be “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Book Thief“. These two works of realistic fiction, one by the renowned Ernest Hemingway, and the other by the rising talent Markus Zusak, couldn’t be any different,  yet, both have been, and will be cherished by book lovers for many ages to come. While Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, and Zusak’s “The Book Thief”, are both centered around their characters   wartime experiences,  Hemingway’s story adheres more to the thoughts and experiences of one person, while Zusak’s story takes its reader into a deep, complex story of life, death, and the coming of age process. Liesel Meminger and Robert Jordan,  the two books protagonists, are two citizens that have felt the effects of war, and have seen the hardships that come with it. In both stories, we are taken through the experiences of both characters, and we are given insight into a life being lived in the midst of a country at war. In both books, the authors clearly communicate a realistic tale about the tragedy that war can present, and the suffering that comes as a result of it. A major difference that we find from the very beginning of both novels, is in whom the narration is coming from. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is told from the point of view of Robert Jordan, a young war veteran in the midst of an important mission. We see everything through the eyes of this young man. Everything is narrated by his thoughts and actions alone. “The Book Thief“, although following along the life of a young girl named Liesel Meminger, is not a story told from her perspective alone, but also from the perspective of an onlooker,  from someone who sees her, and all those around her. The book thief is told from the very interesting and creative view of “Death”. Because of this different point of view, “The Book Thief” offers a much broader look into the lives of its characters, while “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is limited to one point of view. The characters in “The Book Thief” were ones that I found to be beautiful and unforgettable, while, the characters of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” did not have any sort of impact on me whatsoever. I felt that Hemingway failed to create characters that I could connect with, while Zusak gave me people that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. What I found to be lacking in Ernest Hemingway’s story, I found to be abundant in Markus Zusak’s tale of a young girl who steals words.  Considering that  Ernest Hemingway is said to be one of the greatest writers of all time, I was less than impressed with “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. I began the story with high expectations, and ended it with a lower view of the author. Hemingway’s style of writing was monotonous and dull, and often I found myself at the end of a chapter  feeling that I had gotten nowhere, and by the end of the story, feeling like I had just read an extended rant. On the other hand, “ The Book Thief”, was a novel in which I had begun with no expectations at all, and I was blown away. Markus Zusak offers a beautiful story, in which the reader is exposed to Zusak’s honest, witty, and refreshing point of view.


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