“A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality” (Winston Churchill). A person’s morality stems from the natural instinct to survive. After all if something helps a person to continue living then how could it be wrong, right? However, that is only the base for morality, and as a person progresses through life they change their moralities to fit their own needs. If a man did not change his morality to fit his actions then he would go insane believing he is evil. In, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak the dilemma of morality and how people twist its meaning is present. Among the characters Liesel, max, and the people in general all have moral compasses that guide them.
In 1939, Germany’s morality took a plunge for the worse. The ideas of right and wrong went from white and black to gray and black. Everyone thought Germany was evil, except for Germany. Even the young and innocent were not safe from the change in morality that Germany went through. As a young child, Liesel, clearly sees the difference between what is good and bad. When she steals her first book she feels bad about taking it from another person who will most likely be looking for it. Liesel understands that what she did is bad, and it is this reason that she is nervous to show the book to Hans. After Liesel steals her first book, and does not receive punishment, she begins to question what exactly is good or bad. Eventually, Liesel manages to twist her morality to fit to her new lifestyle. When she is hungry Liesel steals to help herself. Instead of continuing to suffer by believing stealing is wrong, Liesel does what is only natural, she changes her morality to continue living.
Changing morals to survive is natural and is usually done without conscious thought, however when someone is told something enough times they begin to believe. As a young kid, Max, is never afraid to back up his moral beliefs physically. He says that he is willing to die fighting what he believes in rather than let the Nazis tell him what to do. This moral value leads him through most of his young life. However, when Max is forced to hide in a small basement within his own country he is completely demoralized. Between being told he is a villain by Nazi propaganda and feeling like one by leaving his family, Max starts to believe that he is completely inferior. His moral belief that everyone is equal slips away and he is left with nearly nothing left to guide him in life.
It has been determined over time by many of the greatest thinkers that morality is not decided by any one person but by society as a whole. In, The Book Thief the people generally accept that killing is bad, however they also agree that war is necessary. Where Morality is concerned the difference between these two things is a very thin line. However, for some reason the people see a difference in the two types of killing. Killing outside of war is completely evil, while killing in a war is morally acceptable. Death, the narrator, points out the flaw in this reasoning. Killing is still killing and to say otherwise is almost comedic: “When I glanced back at the plane, the pilot’s open mouth appeared to be smiling. A final dirty joke. Another human punch line” (The Book Thief). When it comes to war, the morals of society change and they accept death almost as a joke.
The concept of morality is ever changing to fit the needs of the people in order to keep them sane. In, The Book Thief, three different people with different moralities are shown adapting their moral beliefs to suit their needs. Whether it be stealing, equality, or death each moral belief is bound to change.