Literature Study GuidesThe Book ThiefPart 7 Chapters 1 4 Summary

The Book Thief | Study Guide

Marcus Zusak

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The Book Thief | Part 7, Chapters 1–4 : the complete duden dictionary and thesaurus | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 1: Champagne and Accordions

The increasing risk of air raids brings work for Hans, as he paints out people's windows. Liesel helps, and on one occasion they are paid in champagne. Liesel vows never to drink champagne again because she knows it will never taste better than it does on this day. She makes a parallel with the sound of the accordion, which explains why she doesn't learn to play it.

Chapter 2: The Trilogy

Rudy has set a goal for himself: winning four races in the Hitler Youth carnival to get back at Franz Deutscher. He wins three, then gets disqualified from the fourth. He tells Liesel he did it on purpose but gives no further explanation. He gives her his medals.

Liesel steals another book from the mayor's house. A week later a book is waiting for her in the window: The Complete Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus. Inside is a letter from the mayor's wife. She invites Liesel to come back and read without stealing and says the dictionary is a gift.

Chapter 3: The Sound of Sirens

Hans has bought a used radio with money earned from painting windows. As air raids begin, Hans, Rosa, and Liesel must go to the shelter. Liesel brings her books but cannot bring Max. In the shelter everyone is uneasy. Death says everyone except the youngest children was aware of his presence that night, and he pitied them but not as much as he pitied the people in the camps. When they return after the raid, Max confesses that while they were gone he crept upstairs to see the outside world, just for a moment. It has been almost two years since he was outside.

Chapter 4: The Sky Stealer

During the next air raid, everyone hears planes and bombs. Liesel begins reading aloud to calm herself and everyone else. It works so well that when the all clear sounds, everyone stays to listen to the last two paragraphs of the chapter. Liesel tells Max of her deed, but she still worries Max will die alone if an air strike should occur.

Analysis

Although most characters in the novel are neither wholly good nor wholly bad, Hans is the exception. As Liesel says of him, "Who else would do some painting for the price of half a cigarette?" After witnessing the joy she feels with Hans as she helps him paint, readers may understand why she vows never to drink champagne again—she wants this moment to be a high point in her life.

Rudy gets his victory, but not exactly as planned. He tells Liesel he did it on purpose but does not explain why. Liesel decides he did it "because he isn't Jesse Owens," which has a certain truth to it. Rudy doesn't want to stand out the way Owens did. He wants to be left alone with his family and with Liesel. His drive to win the races was merely to show Deutscher what he could do, not gain attention for himself.

The dictionary and letter from the mayor's wife confirm she knows Liesel is taking the books. Although feeling compelled to thank her, Liesel cannot bring herself to do it. The visualization of her brother on the steps of the mayor's house may well represent her sense of guilt. As she leaves, unable to knock, she is labeled as a criminal "but not because she'd stolen a handful of books." Her crime is her inability to thank Frau Hermann.

With the beginning of the air raids readers note the various responses of the residents of Himmel Street. Death is not easy on the Germans. He questions whether they deserve any better, though he does admit to pitying them because they are being forced to live—and think—as they do. However, in comparing his sympathy for those who died in concentration camps, he admits to feeling "not as much as I felt for the ones I scooped up from various camps." He contrasts the basement with "a washroom," referring to the "showers" that were really gas chambers in which concentration camp victims were massacred.

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