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The Strength Of Words

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Death watches over all of us and it’s inevitable that one day all of us will die, but in the Book Thief by Markus Zusak he takes an interest in a girl named Liesel. Death, as the narrator, observes as Liesel grows and is able to establish relationships through thievery, sarcasm, but most importantly through words. When Liesel begins to help her foster mother with collecting the washing from those who employ her in the neighborhood, she befriends the mayor of the town’s wife. Time after time when she comes for the washing, she had the chance to enter into her library and run her fingers along the books she loves so much. The library is also a place where the mayor’s wife is haunted by memories of her long dead son. Liesel knows about the torture and anguish she puts herself through by barely allowing herself to speak or smile but rage strikes her heart. Knowing the damage her words might inflict with a venomous edge she still lashes out to her and tells her that she finds her pathetic and that she should accept the death of her son. Afterwards, she apologizes but not immediately. This leads to Liesel, still with a burning hatred of the woman, to steal from her library when the window is open. Of course she only steals one book at a time, but the mayor’s wife notices and decides to leave her something in the window the next time she comes. On page 369, it says in a letter she left her “I know you find me pathetic and loathsome (look that word up if you don’t know it), but I must tell you that I am not so stupid as to not see your footprints in the library...When you came back, I should’ve been angry, but I wasn’t. I could hear you last time, but I decided to leave you alone. You only ever take one book, and it will take a thousand visits still all of them are gone. My only hope is that one day you will knock on the front door and enter the library in the more civilized manner. Again, I am sorry we could no longer keep your foster mother employed. Lastly, I hope you find this dictionary and thesaurus useful as you read your stolen books. Yours Sincerely, Ilsa Hermann.” This is the start of their friendship when both of them have apologized, yet they still gave something very powerful to one another. By giving the gift of words, a friendship is salvaged somewhere in the mix. Also, on an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, a pony named Rainbow Dash is suddenly hospitalized and her friend Twilight Sparkle gives her some books to read since she can’t move for a couple of days. Rainbow Dash absolutely refuses to read books because she thinks they’re boring and a complete waste of her time. When she finds herself without anything to busy herself with she browses through the titles and one catches her interest. Suddenly her world is turned upside down as she enters the magical world of reading and can’t put the gripping book down. Then her and Twilight eventually share their passion for reading ( “Read It And Weep” ). This shows that the gift of words can change human’s views heavily or even strengthen a friendship. Words slowly play the most important role in human’s lives whether it be through communication or simply just finding an interest in what words can really do.

Not only words create friendships, but they can save lives. Liesel’s foster father was able to be saved by words, one by a friend he made during when he was a soldier for the Great War. On page 177 when their sergeant asked who had the best handwriting to write letters that day, Erik Vandenburg, the foster father’s friend, replied with “Hubermann, sir...Immaculate handwriting, sir, immaculate.” Hans Hubermann didn’t know that those words had saved his life. Instead of marching into battle, he had to stay behind all because of Erik’s words. Liesel’s foster father’s life was saved due to those very words of a genius who somehow knew that whoever went into battle that day would never come back. Throughout history, kind consideration has saved the lives of many just like in the Cuban Missile Crisis. When tension was high and suspicion of another nuclear war arose, the president decided to act. From an article it states “No one was sure how Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev would respond to the naval blockade and U.S. demands. But the leaders of both superpowers recognized the devastating possibility of a nuclear war and publicly agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would dismantle the weapon sites in exchange for a pledge from the United States not to invade Cuba” (“Cuban Missile Crisis”). This shows that both leaders were able to communicate despite their itchy triggers, and save thousands of human’s from the destruction about to unfold from their previous ‘pre-determined’ decision. Words stopped a nuclear war from occurring once again, and many human’s were allowed to live. Words are able to forge new bonds and prevent disasters harboured by rash actions.

Another thing that words provide is advice. Liesel encounters the mayor’s wife once again yet this time it’s Ilsa that’s knocking on her door. She tells her “And please...don’t punish yourself, like you said you would. Don’t be like me, Liesel.” This shows that words can be a warning to others and given from one to another through experience. Ilsa Hermann definitely went through a lot with her son’s death, yet she’s learned of how much restriction shes placed upon herself due to Liesel’s earlier words. Liesel will no longer have to feel the guilt of what she did to the mayor’s wife and take it with a grain of salt. It’ll probably help her in the future as well, whenever that may be. When I was in middle school, sometimes I was bullied by one of my ‘best friends’. I’d known her since second grade, and apparently that gave her the right to ‘pal around’ with me. So like the good girl I was, I just took it. Little did I know that a little pal-ing around led to interventions of personal life and other verbal abuse. Though every time I tried to kind of ‘prank her back’, it always ended up not being okay and it wasn’t ‘fair’ for me to do it back. She made me feel guilty for the small things I did to her and made it seem like everything she did to me was my fault. So I just heavily blamed myself for everything and lived on for months just punishing myself and brooding over every detail. Then about a year later I met a girl with a similar problem, and told her basically the same thing that Ilsa Hermann did to Liesel. Don’t blame yourself. Something may be your fault, but not everything. Words of advice can be passed on to other and can improve a situation.Words save and empower.

The pen is mightier than the sword. The pen so far here has been able to formulate friendships, save lives, and offer advice to those who at some point in their lives may need those words of wisdom. Other might argue that actions are stronger than words, but some actions can’t be forgiven and many words can. Words are some of the most forgiving, powerful, and inspiring things out there which is why they should be used more often. Today, many blatantly use words without thinking and don’t use them in a proper manner. Human’s misuse words to replicate what a sword can, but also cut deeper. Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will stick with you forever and you’ll never forget them. Instead of misusing words they should be put forth to describing or replicating how beautiful or wonderful something is. They should be used as a tool for greatness, not another sword readied at your side. Human’s have a mind, so try to think before you say something, and watch what comes out of your mouth. Utilize those words positively. Don’t manipulate them.



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