The Book Thief

The Book Thief

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The Book Thief Part 7: The Long Walk to Dachau Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Three German trucks carrying Jews stop outside Molching, and the soldiers decide to march the Jews through town. Liesel is playing soccer when the kids hear the sound of shuffling feet approaching. An old lady yells "The Jews" from an upper window. Hans appears and tries to take Liesel away, but she is determined to stay and watch.
Liesel shows her maturity again in wanting to look the situation in the face. This sets up a pivotal scene and an example of the cruelty of the Nazis, the passivity of much of the general populace, and the great goodness of people like Hans.
Themes
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Color, Beauty, and Ugliness Theme Icon
The group of Jews passes down Munich Street, and Death sees them as a procession of death-colors. Each of them is starved and despairing. The people of Molching watch silently. There is one old Jewish man who keeps collapsing from exhaustion, but the soldiers make him continue. Almost unconsciously Hans takes a piece of bread from his paint cart, pushes through the crowd, and hands the bread to the old man. The old man falls to the ground and embraces Hans's legs, crying. A soldier soon appears and whips both the Jew and Hans. Hans hopes the old man will at least die feeling like he is a human, but Death is unsure if this is a positive thing or not.
Most of the citizens passively watch this horrible scene, but Hans is compelled by his own humanity – it is almost childlike how he doesn't consider the consequences, but offers a small offering to show the old man that he is still a human, and valuable. Hans shows his courage here as well, as he takes a brutal whipping for his action. This scene especially shows the perverse morality of the Nazis – Hans displaying even a minimum of human kindness is a crime.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Liesel and Rudy help up Hans. Most of the crowd calls him a "Jew lover" and they upturn his paint cart, but a few help him to safety. Hans is suddenly terrified that Max will be discovered because of his actions, and he despairs at what he has done.
Most of the rest of the observers look cruel or cowardly in comparison to Hans. Hans now feels guilty for doing something good because of the danger such an action poses for his family and for Max – a sign that right and wrong have been upended.
Themes
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon