Skip over navigation

The Book Thief

Markus Zusak

Part Seven

Part Six

Part Seven, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary

As the town of Molching comes to terms with the likelihood of being bombed, Hans finds his painting services in demand, as his neighbors need their blinds painted black for blackouts during bombings. Unfortunately, few of the town’s residents can afford to pay him, so they often barter for his services with food or cigarettes. Liesel accompanies Hans on his jobs, and when he is not painting he plays the accordion for them. One day they do work for some customers who pay them with Champagne, and Liesel vows never to drink Champagne again because it cannot possibly ever taste as good again. Rudy, meanwhile, trains for the upcoming Hitler Youth Carnival. He promises to win four gold medals, just like his idol Jesse Owens did during the 1936 Olympics. Rudy wins the first three races easily, but is disqualified from the fourth because of repeated false starts. After the carnival, Rudy confesses that he did it on purpose.

Liesel steals another book, A Song in the Dark, from the Hermann library. As the summer draws to a close, Rudy notices that a book has been propped in the window of the mayor’s house. Liesel steals it and discovers it is a dictionary. In it she finds a letter from Frau Hermann telling her that she is welcome to continue stealing books, but Frau Hermann hopes Liesel will someday come in through the front door instead of the window. At the end of the summer, Molching experiences its first air raid, and Liesel, Hans, and Rosa go to the neighbors’ house to take shelter in the basement. They have no choice but to leave Max behind.

In the shelter, many of Liesel’s neighbors are terrified. Liesel herself is terrified of what will happen to Max if their house is bombed. The raid warning ends, and Liesel, Rosa, and Hans return to their house, where Max confesses he took the opportunity to look out the windows, having not seen the outside world for nearly two years. During the next raid, Liesel calms herself by reading The Whistler out loud. Soon all the residents in the shelter are listening, and even after the all-clear siren sounds, the neighbors remain until Liesel finishes the chapter. A few days later one of their neighbors, Frau Holtzapfel, comes to the house and asks if Liesel will come over and read to her in the afternoons, in return for coffee. Although Rosa and Frau Holtzapfel are enemies, Rosa agrees, and Liesel begins reading several days a week.

A convoy of German trucks carrying Jews to the concentration camps at Dachau stops outside Molching, and the soldiers march the Jewish prisoners through the town. The residents come out of their houses to watch, and Liesel finds Hans in the crowd. An old man, struggling to keep up, falls repeatedly in the street. Hans takes a piece of bread from his paint can and offers it to the man. The man falls to his knees and embraces Hans’s feet in thanks, but before he can eat the bread a soldier arrives and begins whipping the man, then Hans. As the procession moves on, witnesses call Hans a Jew lover and knock over his paint cart. Hans realizes his actions have drawn suspicion and Max is no longer safe in the basement. The next night, Max leaves Himmel Street. He’s arranged to meet Hans in four days, but when Hans arrives at the appointed spot, he only finds a note, telling him he’s already done enough. Hans, filled with guilt for causing Max to leave, is also reviled by Frau Diller and other townspeople, who spit at him and call him a Jew lover. When the Gestapo do come, however, it is not to take Hans away, but Rudy.

Analysis

War arrives definitively in Molching in this section. Liesel, who has been relatively content over the summer, now realizes that her happiness may be fleeting and tries to savor each last happy moment. For example, as she drinks Champagne for the first time, she has an awareness of how happy she is, and how that happiness contributes to the flavor of the drink. Spending time with Hans, painting houses with him, and listening to him play the accordion are among her favorite activities. As the political situation grows more precarious, Liesel is growing older, and both circumstances make her acutely aware of the passage of time. It is with an adult’s consciousness that she realizes life will not always be like this.

Rudy experiences perhaps his greatest triumph, though his response to this victory is surprising. During the Hitler Youth Carnival, Rudy deliberately disqualifies himself from the final race and then basically discards the medals he already won, suggesting they don’t matter to him. It’s not the reaction one would expect given Rudy’s goal of matching his idol Jesse Owens’s record of four gold medals. Liesel is confused by Rudy’s behavior, and indeed he never explains himself, but the text does suggest some possible reasons. Rudy is clearly happy with his performance. He doesn’t seem to have any regrets or feel that he didn’t accomplish what he wanted. He may know that he could have won the final race, and thus he didn’t need to actually do it to gain that satisfaction. In addition, one of his goals was to prove himself to Franz Deutscher, his former Hitler Youth leader, and even without winning all four races he’s already done that.

NAMES

by Kai_Dawson, May 28, 2015

The writer of this mixed Rudy's and Max's names when Liesel goes to steal the book...

Follow Us