Literature Study GuidesThe Book ThiefPart 8 Chapters 1 4 Summary

The Book Thief | Study Guide

Marcus Zusak

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The Book Thief | Part 8, Chapters 1–4 : the word shaker | Summary



Chapter 1: Dominoes and Darkness

Two men arrive to recruit Rudy into a special program for future Nazi soldiers and leaders. Rudy thinks back to the day he was examined by a doctor at school. He doesn't want to go to this school, and his parents don't want to send him. Death states that had Rudy gone, his father would not have been punished and Rudy might have lived.

Chapter 2: The Thought of Rudy Naked

Rudy doesn't tell Liesel about the examination until after the men visit. He remembers hearing the nurse talking about their goal of creating an "officer class." During this discussion the doctor is examining Rudy and two classmates. All three are naked and embarrassed. Liesel and Rudy laugh about it, but they are uneasy. Liesel continues to think about Rudy naked.

Chapter 3: Punishment

Hans is still waiting to be punished when he gets a letter informing him he is now a member of the Nazi Party. Then, along with Rudy's father, he is drafted into the army and fears being sent to Russia. Rudy's mother says they are punishing her family for not letting Rudy go to the special program. Hans knows it is his punishment for giving bread to a Jew.

Chapter 4: The Promise Keeper's Wife

The night before Hans leaves, he gets drunk with Rudy's father. Rosa has to throw cold water on him to wake him up. He is hung over as he leaves. He asks Liesel to take care of Rosa and encourages her to keep reading in the air-raid shelter.

After his father leaves, Rudy is angry. He announces he wants to kill Hitler for taking his father, but Liesel, who has already lost her family, is unsympathetic. Eventually they head home. Late at night Liesel hears a strange noise. She finds Rosa asleep strapped into Hans's accordion. She sees a certain beauty in Rosa's actions and does not disturb her.


Refusing to give Rudy to the "coat men" is dangerous. Earlier in the book Rudy's father encourages his son to blend in and go along with the crowd. Yet Herr Steiner does not give up his son to the cause. A "good" Nazi should be honored to have his son selected for such a program, but Herr Steiner is not such a person. He may have seen advantages in anti-Jewish discrimination earlier in the war, but he does not want to give up his son, nor does he want to be complicit in genocide.

The Nazis often performed such physical exams to evaluate a person's overall physical health. It also allowed medical personnel to determine whether a man or boy was Jewish, as Jewish males were circumcised. However, most teenage boys like Rudy would not voluntarily share such an experience with classmates or willingly tell others about it. For the first time, Liesel's reaction suggests she may be developing romantic feelings for Rudy.

Rosa reveals hidden depths once Hans is gone. The image of Rosa falling asleep with the accordion in her lap as she whispers a prayer is startling. It is so different from the way in which Rosa presents herself to the world, but it is completely consistent with the real Rosa who loves her husband and family.

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