Literature Study GuidesThe Book ThiefPart 6 Chapters 5 8 Summary

The Book Thief | Study Guide

Marcus Zusak

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The Book Thief | Part 6, Chapters 5–8 : the dream carrier | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 5: Death's Diary: Cologne

Death describes visiting the city of Cologne as it is under attack. Young girls make a game of spotting discarded fuel tanks, asking their parents if they can keep them as souvenirs. In the meantime Death continues to collect human souls.

Chapter 6: The Visitor

While Liesel plays soccer, Nazi officials show up on Himmel Street, looking for basements to serve as additional air-raid shelters. Liesel needs to warn Hans and Rosa, so she intentionally crashes into a bigger kid and scrapes her leg. One of the Nazi officials comes over to help, but she sends Rudy for Hans. Hans helps her home, and once they're inside she warns him. Before they can do anything, there is a knock on their door. It is the Nazi who saw Liesel's accident. He chats with her and then goes down to check their basement. He decides it is too shallow and leaves without finding Max.

Chapter 7: The Schmunzeler

After the official leaves, Rudy shows up to check on Liesel. Hans calls him her boyfriend, a statement Liesel contradicts. She assures Rudy she is all right.

Chapter 8: Death's Diary: The Parisians

Death describes his experiences at the concentration camps, collecting souls of Jewish people who have died there. Death says he spoke to God about what was happening, but God didn't answer. Death responds to the souls with great tenderness.

Analysis

Death's Diary focuses on Cologne. The Allied air attack on Cologne involved more than 1,000 planes and was one of the largest Allied attacks on a civilian population. For such a violent night, the narrator's tone is surprisingly light. Death seems intrigued by the human capacity to be normal in spite of horrifying circumstances, one of the unanswered thematic questions in the novel. The tone reflects the obliviousness with which a great many civilians behaved, doing what they could to improve their own circumstances.

On the other hand, the Nazi basement inspection shows the opposite of civilian indifference and emphasizes the risks Liesel, Hans, and Rosa are taking. Liesel now knows she cannot be passive and does indeed assume an active role in protecting Max. Her quick thinking and action allow her to warn Hans, although they have little time to do anything. The author continues to explore the multifaceted nature of human beings and the gray area into which many people fall—neither all good nor all bad. The Nazi official who comes to Liesel's aid and who visits their house is a decent sort who asks after Liesel's hurt knee and talks about his family. Is he a sadistic bully? Most likely not, but he is simply another who goes along with the expedient because he has to, like most of the residents in Molching who do not adhere to ideology—but who do not publicly object. Zusak rarely gives clear answers about who is good or bad, another unanswered question.

The second "Death's Diary" in this group of chapters focuses on "French" and "Parisian" souls. This chapter is a reference to the July 1942 roundup of Jews in Paris during which Jewish men, women, and children were collected and detained inside a sports arena. Most were sent to Auschwitz, among the worst of the concentration camps.

Even Death is bothered by concentration camps. In getting no response from God when he broaches the subject, Death believes even the earth and the sky are turned against him and the souls he gathers: in imagining the sun above the clouds, he sees "the sun was blond ... the endless atmosphere was a giant blue eye." The sun and the sky have taken on the colors of Aryan ideal physical types.

But Death claims to be tender with the concentration camp souls. He listens to them as they die and kisses their faces. As he continues to assert his own lack of humanity, the chapter ends with the assertion, "They were French, they were Jews, and they were you." Then again, after what Death has witnessed in this chapter, why would he want to be human?

In Part 6, the book Liesel steals from the mayor's wife's library is The Dream Carrier. The book thief associates the title with Max's dreams and her own dreams about her little brother. The colors of the book (red with black writing) suggest the Nazi flag and death, but the book is about a priest.
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