Literature Study GuidesThe Book ThiefPart 5 Chapters 5 8 Summary

The Book Thief | Study Guide

Marcus Zusak

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The Book Thief | Part 5, Chapters 5–8 : the whistler | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 5: Sketches

Max uses the painted-over pages from Mein Kampf to write brief thoughts and create illustrations. One drawing shows a man and woman standing on top of a mountain of dead bodies, saying, "Isn't it a lovely day." The image, in its simplicity and horror, frightens Liesel.

Chapter 6: The Whistler and the Shoes

Liesel finds Rudy walking home shirtless after another encounter with Deutscher at the Hitler Youth meeting. Rudy tells Liesel he needs "a win," and they agree to go stealing on their own.

Liesel suggests stealing from the mayor's house. Rudy wants food, but Liesel wants The Whistler, the book the mayor's wife tried to give her previously, although she lets Rudy think she, too, wants food. She takes off her shoes, sneaks inside, grabs The Whistler, sneaks out, and they run away. Rudy forgets Liesel's shoes and has to go back to get them, disappointed by the spoils. As he says goodnight, Rudy calls her "book thief." Liesel is rather proud of her new title.

Chapter 7: Three Acts of Stupidity by Rudy Steiner

Rudy grabs the biggest potato at the grocery store and is caught, but he manages to talk his way out of trouble. Still, he doesn't get the potato.

Deutscher continues to torment Rudy and Tommy at Hitler Youth meetings. Rudy spots Deutscher on the street and throws a rock that hits Deutscher's back. Deutscher responds by giving Rudy a black eye and cracked ribs. Rudy then stops attending Hitler Youth meetings. His older brother, Kurt, arranges for Rudy and Tommy to join a different Hitler Youth division. In the new division Rudy is successful, and Death notes, "despite his obvious stupidity" Rudy also did very well in school.

Chapter 8: The Floating Book (Part II)

Rudy and Liesel run into Viktor Chemmel and his group of thieves near the river. Liesel is carrying The Whistler, which Viktor throws into the river. Rudy wades in to rescue it and asks Liesel for a kiss. Death observes she might really have been expected to kiss him this time, since he had saved her book, but Rudy doesn't even wait for an answer. Death says Rudy may have been afraid of the book thief's kiss because he loved her so much.

Analysis

Max's next book troubles Liesel. She sees in some of the drawings that Hitler is not solely responsible for what has been happening in Germany. The first drawing identifies Hitler as "the conductor," leading a chorus of people giving the Nazi salute. A conductor leads the musical group but does not create the music. Max suggests Hitler is providing an outlet for, or directing, hatred and violence that may have always existed below the surface.

The other drawing shows a couple holding hands and saying, "Isn't it a lovely day." as they stand on top of a pile of bodies under a sun with a swastika on it. Again the image suggests some people are thriving in Nazi Germany because of the suffering of many others. Liesel tells Max he scares her, but the comment does not relate only to her surprise at his waking up. Liesel is justifiably frightened by what the drawings show her. And she is beginning to notice much more around her—how much more indoctrinated people have become and how their behavior is changing.

Rudy's fight with Deutscher seems straightforward, but a careful reading demonstrates Rudy is making it worse. As Death points out, Rudy has no problem learning things in school or with his new Hitler Youth group. He chooses to be difficult because of Deutscher. Rudy will not tolerate being bullied nor will he tolerate the outright mistreatment of someone weaker like Tommy. And he is quietly subversive in his way, not calling attention to himself but refusing in his mind to go along with what he's told.

The book in Part 5 is The Whistler, a thriller not nearly as complex as some of the other books Liesel reads. But as with the other books, the content is less important than the book itself as a symbol. Liesel refuses to accept it as a gift but is happy to steal it. The Whistler is a symbol of Liesel's desire to take things for herself—action rather than passivity—and it is a symbol as well of the unintended consequences such theft might create.

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