The Book Thief

The Book Thief

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The Book Thief Part 7: The Sound of Sirens Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Hans buys a radio to hear when the raids are coming, but one night in September they don't hear it until the air raid sirens come on. They have to go to a neighbor's large basement (the Fiedlers) and are forced to leave Max behind. The people of Himmel Street all gather there, each carrying their most precious possessions. Liesel watches the people who look the most afraid. After a while everyone is silent and still, and there is a palpable sense of fear in the room. Soon everyone starts holding hands.
The war physically comes to Himmel Street with this first raid. All the characters are now gathered together, united by fear. Max's position as a second-class citizen is emphasized again, as he cannot come to the bomb shelter and so is in danger of dying alone in the basement.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Death muses on the lives of these people, and wonders whether they deserve pity or deserve to die. He decides that he does pity them, but not as much as he pities the Jews in the concentration camps. Liesel herself is worried about Max, alone in the unsafe basement. Finally the sirens sound again, which means the bombing is over. The Hubermanns come home and find Max. He admits that during the raid he came upstairs and looked out the window, as he hadn't seen the outside world in twenty-two months. He says the stars burned his eyes. He and Liesel stay up all night, Liesel reading A Song in the Dark and Max sketching and writing.
Death is able to give the bigger picture – these people are having hard times, but they at least have agency and aren't herded up to be slaughtered like animals. The horrors inflicted on the Jews seem much more pitiable to him than these Germans, who are at least free. Even the stars are too bright for Max after having lived in the basement for so long. He has been deprived of Death's one pleasure and distraction – looking at the sky.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Color, Beauty, and Ugliness Theme Icon