Battered by Words

“Death and life are in the power of
the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21)

The excerpt below is from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (pt. 5, pg. 263). It’s of the most searing word pictures I have ever encountered, in that it paints an unforgettable image of the consequences of wanton verbal abuse; of the wounds an uncontrolled tongue can impart.

After a miscarriaged pause, the mayor’s wife edged forward and picked up the book. She was battered and beaten up, and not from smiling this time. Leisel could see it on her face. 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 the words. From Leisel’s words.

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8 thoughts on “Battered by Words”

  1. I think he missed the point and chose a wrong analogy. Words don’t assault the body and wouldn’t leave any marks like bleeding noses, or blacken-eyes. Words assault the mind and the soul and can leave ugly marks and scars on the mind.

    Try this:

    “After a miscarriaged pause, the mayor’s wife edged forward and picked up the book. Her mind was battered and beaten up, and not from smiling this time. Leisel could see it in her soul. Deep, dark welts rose on the surface of her mind from the assault of the words she had read. Crevices in her brain filled with clots of brutal words which had forcefully pelted her mind. Wounds had opened and laid bare on her reason oozing the puss of misinformation. All from the words. From Leisel’s words.”

    Just a thought from one who might no Sling Ink, but sometimes sling words!

    1. Hi Gregg! Thanks for commenting!

      I don’t think Zusak was saying that words literally assault the body physically; he was just giving us a physical representation of the inward harm caused by hurtful words.

      1. I know, but that is my point exactly. Words can cause great harm, I am with that, but I am just going a step further and saying that the harm words do is not physical (which I know Zusak knows) but as you said “inward harm caused by hurtful words.” I am not trying to be argumentative – I like what he is saying, choose words carefully because they can cause terrible hurt, I just think he could have used an analogy more closer to the inward parts that’s all. I think it is a great quote with a great idea and lesson for us all.

  2. Yes, how many of us know poor souls such as this. Such a stark , somber reminder, good exhortation to all of us. Thanks Ink

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