Literature Study GuidesThe Book ThiefPart 10 Chapters 5 8 Summary

The Book Thief | Study Guide

Marcus Zusak

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The Book Thief | Part 10, Chapters 5–8 : the book thief | Summary



Chapter 5: Confessions

With the Jews gone Liesel goes to the train station to wait for Max. She won't talk to Rudy, so he fetches Rosa. Hans, Rosa, and Liesel grieve for Max. After three days Liesel finds Rudy and tells him the truth. As they talk, she realizes how much she loves Rudy, and now she wants to kiss him. But she doesn't say anything. Death says Rudy will be dead in a month, and Liesel doesn't even know it.

Chapter 6: Ilsa Hermann's Little Black Book

Liesel visits the mayor's wife's library, but she is too unhappy to get joy from the books. She rips one into pieces, wondering what good words can do in such a world. She writes a note to the mayor's wife, apologizing for the destruction and promising not to come back. The mayor's wife comes to find her instead, offering a blank book so Liesel can write her own story. That night Liesel goes to the basement and begins to write The Book Thief.

Chapter 7: The Rib-Cage Planes

Although her hand gets tired, Liesel writes every night. She has written more than 100 pages by the next air raid, and she brings her book, along with all the other books, to the shelter. Her book is divided into 10 parts, with each part named after a story that was important to her.

Chapter 8: The End of the World (Part II)

Death says the book is falling apart with age, and he wants readers to know how he came to learn Liesel's story. Himmel Street is bombed by mistake. Tommy Müller and his family, Frau Holtzapfel, Frau Diller, and Rudy's entire family die. Death feels terrible about taking Rudy. Finally, he takes Hans and Rosa.

Death describes Liesel's shock as she realizes she is the lone survivor. She screams for Hans and insists on carrying his accordion. She pleads with Rudy to wake up, telling him how much she loves him. Realizing he is dead, Liesel kisses him on the lips. She says goodbye to Hans and Rosa's bodies, dropping her book in her grief. Death picks it up and carries it with him.


She can't save Max with words, so Liesel wants to reject their power completely. She refuses to believe in the promise of books and even destroys one. But once again her actions do not lead to the consequences she expects. Instead Frau Hermann offers her the chance to write, bringing to fruition Max's vision expressed in The Word Shaker, that words can transform the world, for ill and for good.

In a novel about the power of books and words, it seems only right that Liesel's life is saved by a book. If she hadn't been in the basement, she would not have survived. But even to Liesel books are not more important than people. She forgets her book in her grief for Hans, Rosa, Rudy, and the others.

The losses are catastrophic for everyone, including Death. Death describes carrying Rudy's soul "with one salty eye and a heavy, deathly heart." Even Death aches for the loss of someone like Rudy. Death describes Hans's soul as one of "the best ones," the kind that sit up to meet Death because they will accept what comes. Death also describes Rosa's heart, pointing out that she loved much more than people might have thought. These final characterizations of Hans and Rosa are the more heartbreaking once Liesel is rescued and learns what happened.

Death notes that usually he tries to avoid seeing human reactions, "but on this occasion, I have to say that although it broke my heart, I was, and still am, glad I was there." If Death wants a justification for human existence, the love in Liesel's heart exemplifies the best of humanity.

Liesel's book, which Death carries until he meets Liesel many years later, is called The Book Thief, just as the novel is. Liesel's book is only part of the actual novel, but its structure is similar, with parts named after the books that were important to Liesel.

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