The Book Thief

The Book Thief

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The Book Thief Part 8: Dominos and Darkness Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rudy sets up lines of dominoes with his siblings while his parents talk to the Gestapo in the next room. When he hears the voices get louder Rudy lights a candle and leans against the door, listening. He realizes the Gestapo are here to take him to an elite Nazi school because of his good grades and athletic skill. The Steiners are resistant, as they have heard of horrible hardships at such schools. Rudy stops listening and knocks down the dominoes.
…but in fact the Gestapo arrive for just the opposite reason. Rudy has now been noticed as someone who seems to be an example of Hitler's "master race," even though the reader knows that Rudy hates and Nazis and Hitler. The dominoes are a symbol of the war, but also of how small actions can lead to huge consequences later – as with the conversation about to occur, and Rudy's fate.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
After the Gestapo leave, the Steiner children come into the kitchen and ask what will happen to Rudy. Alex Steiner looks desperate and Death implies that he has refused to let them take his son. Death wonders what would have happened if Rudy had listened to the rest of the conversation in the kitchen. As it is, however, fate does not favor Rudy Steiner, and Death reveals that he will die.
Death again gives the reader some of his knowledge to heighten the irony and tragedy. It is revealed that Alex Steiner has unwittingly caused Rudy's death by refusing to send him away, but Death doesn't explain how this comes to pass. This builds suspense and resonates with the image of the dominoes.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon