The Book Thief | Study Guide

Marcus Zusak

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The Book Thief | Part 7, Chapters 5–8 : the complete duden dictionary and thesaurus | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 5: Frau Holtzapfel's Offer

Frau Holtzapfel offers to pay Liesel to come to her house to read to her. Liesel determines it was two weeks of reading to Frau Holtzapfel before the Jews were marched through town on their way to Dachau.

Chapter 6: The Long Walk to Dachau

Death says some people claimed the truck broke down and thus the Jews had to march. But he was there and states the soldiers thought it was a good time for a parade. Liesel and Rudy join Hans to watch, though Hans wants to send Liesel away.

The prisoners are exhausted and near death. When one man collapses on the ground, Hans intervenes by offering him some bread. A soldier approaches and beats both the prisoner and Hans. When the Jews have gone, people insult Hans and overturn his cart. Realizing what he has done, Hans believes the Nazis will come for him and find Max.

Chapter 7: Peace

Max has to leave because of Hans's actions. He tells Liesel he has left a gift for her that she will get when the time is right. He arranges to meet Hans in four days near the river, if he is still alive. But when Hans goes there he finds a note from Max saying, "You've done enough." Max is gone.

Chapter 8: The Idiot and the Coat Men

Hans keeps waiting for the Nazis to come for him and blames himself for Max's departure. When no one comes for him, he feels even worse, as if he has chased Max away for nothing. Many townspeople insult Hans, but he does not care. Three weeks later two men in dark coats arrive on the street. Hans shouts to them to take him, but they have come for Rudy.

Analysis

Hans Hubermann is a good and courageous man. But these traits cause serious trouble. People were sent to concentration camps for helping Jews, and the soldiers could easily have taken Hans to Dachau with them, especially since it seems as though they have been doing more than their duty by forcing the prisoners to walk. The scene is described through Liesel's eyes, so the reader doesn't know what Hans is thinking. The spontaneous gesture of help seems to matter more than the bread itself, for Death says that the Jew would die "with the thought that he was a human." Similar to the instance in which Liesel hugs Max, what matters is that a non-Jew recognizes the humanity of a Jew, contrary to Nazi propaganda. Many people condemn Hans for his gesture. When Hans is beaten, Rudy stays with Liesel and helps Hans; after his experiences with Franz Deutscher, Rudy's allegiance seems as clear as his inability to avoid interfering.

Hans was not thinking of Max when he offered the bread; as a result Max has to leave and will not return to the Hubermanns. Hans curses himself for his own stupidity, as he sees it, but Liesel sees him as "just a man." In the same way Hans comforted Liesel when she blamed herself for the snowman causing Max's illness, Liesel now wants to comfort Hans, but he won't allow her. Then, as a final and bitter personal insult to him, no one comes for Hans. Overlooking Hans's behavior and Hans himself as insignificant, men turn up looking for Rudy.

A gift from Frau Hermann, The Complete Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus marks a turning point in Liesel's development; she is now at a point at which she can pay attention to the meanings of words, not just puzzle out what they are. This perceptive and appropriate gift provides endless opportunities for Liesel and is the next step for her to gain greater and greater power over the words.

The dictionary also provides an opportunity for Death to insert new variations into his headline

s. He mixes in definitions from the dictionary, using them as another way to comment on the action. For example, when Hans is mourning what has happened to Max, Death inserts a definition for regret.

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