“Blood leaked from her nose and licked at her lips. Her eyes had blackened. Cuts had opened up and a series of wounds were rising to the surface of her skin. All from words.” (253)
In both The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak and Schindler’s List, Directed by Steven Spielberg, words are shown as one of the most dangerous weapons a human can possess.
Through a persuasive vocabulary of words, people can be manipulated for good or bad.
Words are dangerous because they can inspire hate and violence.
Words have the power to seperate us and cause hate and violence because they allow people to be manipulated and allow people to be taken advantage of.
Manipulation is a powerful tool used in an unfair manner to manage or skillfully influence one’s opponent. In both The Book Thief and Schindler’s List, manipulation is used quite often in order for a character to get what they want.
Sub Point A:
Characters from both works form relationships by communicating their common beliefs, then use these common bonds for manipulative purposes. The manipulation tactics are then used to protect people.
In Schindler’s List, Once Oskar Schindler gets his priorities straight and decides to start saving Jews for moral reasons, not only to make money, he pretends to still believe in the Nazi ideology. He is able to become friends with some Nazi officials, such as “Amon Goeth” and he slowly gains their trust. Eventually, Schindler starts to use a manipulation tactic similar to reverse psychology.
At one point he says “Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t.” He also goes on to say “That’s what the Emperor said. A man steals something, he’s brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he’s going to die. And the Emperor… pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.”
This conversation occurs between Goeth and Schindler after a party. Goeth is drunk and stumbling, while Schindler is calm and composed. Schindler tries to influence Goeth to cease his random slaughter. Understanding Goeth’s need for power, he attempts to persuade him by telling him that power and violence are not the same.
Likewise, in The Book Thief
Liesel manipulates Rudy, Klaus Behrig, as well as some of the NSDAP workers, when she notices NSDAP workers going house to house inspecting people’s basements. Liesel recognizes the danger her family and Max are in and immediately comes up with a manipulative plan.
The first step was to get hurt. “The boy turned with the ball just as Liesel arrived, and they collided”(340). Liesel was then able to hatch the manipulative side of it. “She had to think. She made herself drop once more to the ground, on her back. ‘My papa,’ she said”.
Liesel interpreted that by injuring herself, she would be able to take control of the situation and get home to worn her family about the inspections. She decided that she needed to do everything in her power, even if it involved tricking or lying to her friends, to get home. Lastly, she knew that getting hurt would be a small cost to pay in exchange for Max and her family’s safety.
Schindler manipulates Amon Goeth as well as German officials at Auschwitz into letting him buy Jew’s to work in his factory.
Schindler tells the German officials that it is a good thing that he wants to buy them because then they don’t need to go through all the trouble of shipping them off to Auschwitz. He also tells them that they will benefit because of all the money he is is paying for them.
Schindler realizes that pure force would not allow him to save Jews because he would just be thrown in jail. Luckily, Schindler is a master manipulator and he makes the Nazis think that selling the Jews will be the most beneficial option for them. Even better than sending them to Auschwitz. He does this by talking to Goeth in private and listing off reasons why it benefits the Nazis. In doing that, Schindler takes advantage of the fact that Goeth likes money and is able to sway Goeth without clueing him in, on his actual motives for buying them.
Furthermore, in The Book Thief
Max and Liesel form a relationship despite the fact that Max is Jewish and Liesel is German. They bond over the bad experiences that they have both encountered and blamed on the fuhrer. In an attempt to shelter Liesel from the harsh reality of his situation, Max manipulates her into hearing only what she wants to hear.
On one particular occasion, Max tells Liesel that every night he fights the fuhrer in the basement. Immediately, Liesel asks “‘Who Wins?’ At first Max was going to answer that no one did, but then he noticed the paint cans, the drop sheets, and the growing pile of newspapers in the periphery of his vision. He watched the words, the long cloud, and the figures on the wall. ‘I do’ he said. It was as if he’d opened her palm, given her the words, and closed it up again.” (256).