Markus Zusak masterfully depicts the struggles of humans in tumultuous times, in his novel The Book Thief. Liesel and her adopted family navigate through the storm that is Nazi Germany. Liesel experiences the crude brutality of the Fascist Nazi Regime, as a child her curiosity drives her to the truth. Discovering the power of words as she learns the language, Zusak incorporates other moral themes in his novel, another one being the struggle of survival and the selfishness that accompanies it. This is seen when Max abandons his family to seek refuge with the Hubermans. Zusak also utilizes Death as a character to show the worth of humans and their psychology. In The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, deep philosophical undertones are explored, including the struggle between psychological egoism and ethical egoism, the power of words, and human nature. .
In the The Book Thief egoism is illustrated in multiple facets, from Max abandoning his family for his survival, Hans's feeding of the Jew, and Alex Steiner's allegiance to the Nazi party. John Archie defines what psychological egoism is on his philosophy website "The doctrine that everyone acts from the motive of self-interest. Occasionally, the doctrine is initially defined in terms of selfishness or doing what one wants". By definition Max's disregard for his family in time of distress is an example of egoism. This philosophy shapes the person Max becomes, he is a survivor and will fight for his life no matter what the circumstances are. Another character that shares the same philosophy is Alex Steiner, Mr. Steiner demonstrates this when he allies himself with the Nazi party. Even though Mr. Steiner does not agree with the ideologies of the Nazi's he joins the party because it benefits his family and himself. This can be justified with philosophical understanding: .
"Often, we would like to help others, but because of lack of self-development, we are unable to do so.