The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

The Book Thief Part 1: The Kiss (A Childhood Decision Maker) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Death introduces some of the other characters that live on Himmel Street: the Nazi-supporting Frau Diller, twitchy Tommy Müller, and the vulgar Pfiffikus. Everyone on the street is generally poor. Next door is the Steiner family whose son Rudy is obsessed with the American athlete Jesse Owens. He is to become Liesel's best friend.
Death introduces characters and in some sense reveals what will happen to them (especially Rudy) but Zusak still manages to keep the plot moving along. He is still mostly setting the scene of a typical German neighborhood, albeit as the Nazi's are consolidating power in the background.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Liesel goes out into the street where the neighborhood kids are playing soccer. Liesel has to play goalie (the goal is two trashcans) because she is new. Rudy (who is the best player) gets a penalty kick against Liesel, but she blocks it. He hits her with a snowball and she curses at him with Rosa's favorite word, "saukerl."
Liesel has already picked up Rosa's words, and these curses and a love/hate kind of exchange (starting with a snowball to the face) will come to define Liesel and Rudy's relationship.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Death gives some facts about Rudy: he is blond, blue-eyed, and always hungry. People think he is crazy because of "The Jesse Owens Incident," which will be explained later. Rudy seems destined to be Liesel's best friend. He starts to walk to school with her and tell her about the people of Himmel Street, especially Frau Diller, who owns a shop where if you don't "heil Hitler" when you enter, she won't serve you. Rudy and Liesel walk past Rudy's father's shop (he is a tailor) and the Jewish ghetto, which has many broken windows and doors painted with the Star of David.
Here Rudy acts as an assistant to Death in describing the inhabitants of Himmel Street and setting the scene. The tone suddenly turns ominous as they pass the Jewish ghetto, but again it is a kind of situational irony – the reader associates Jewishness with tragedy at this time and place in history, but the characters do not yet know what is coming.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Rudy starts to spend time with Liesel at school too, and Death implies that he is already in love with her. One day the two children taunt Pfiffikus (who is called that because he likes to whistle), and Pfiffikus curses obscenely at both of them as they run away. Afterwards Rudy challenges Liesel to race, and proposes that he gets to kiss her if he wins. She is confused, but she wants to stop being goalie in soccer if she wins. They run and slip in the mud but the race is a draw. Rudy still wants his kiss, but Liesel refuses and doesn't mind still playing goalie. She promises to herself to never kiss Rudy. She is more worried about her muddy clothes, which Rosa berates her for.
Death's narrative style is curious and not usually concerned with building mystery – he states from the start that Rudy is in love with Liesel. Like all his foreshadowing, this knowledge then colors the reader's understanding of the character and the novel. Rudy's first request for a kiss from Liesel, which will become a recurring motif, and resonates with idea of stealing and giving – Liesel has this thing Rudy wants, but she refuses to give it to him.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Get the entire The Book Thief LitChart as a printable PDF.
The book thief.pdf.medium