The Book Thief

The Book Thief

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The Book Thief Part 2: Book of Fire Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hans and Liesel start to walk home, but they are stopped by a man who asks Hans if he has joined the Nazis yet. Liesel walks over and examines the ashes of the bonfire, which officials are shoveling away. At the bottom of the pile are three books that survived the blaze. The shovelers move away and Liesel rushes in. She grabs a blue book from the ashes. Someone yells and Liesel fears she has been discovered, but it is only the mayor coming to burn whatever survived.
Liesel doesn't understand the true consequences of her actions, but here she shows that she is willing to risk her safety for a book. Books have become that precious to her, almost like characters – but she also does this as her first subversive act against Hitler and the forces that destroyed her family.
Themes
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Liesel slips the book under her uniform and it starts to warm her chest. Then she realizes that the mayor's wife saw everything, and she curses to herself. Hans and Liesel finally leave, and the book, which is called The Shoulder Shrug, burns against her skin.
The book almost seems to have agency as it burns Liesel's chest – more emphasis on the physicality of language. The illegal book under the Hitler Youth uniform is symbolic of what Hans was trying to explain – they must maintain their humanity in secret, but publicly support Hitler.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon