The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief Part 1: The Woman with the Iron Fist Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Liesel start having nightmares every night about her dead brother. She wakes up screaming and Hans comes in and sits with her. After a few weeks he holds her, and Liesel comes to trust him through his gentleness and the fact that he never leaves when she needs him. Some nights he plays the accordion for her, which cheers her up, but the noise annoys Rosa. For Liesel, the accordion comes to symbolize safety.
Hans and his accordion quickly become symbols of safety and goodness. Her nightmares show that Liesel clearly has not processed her brother's death yet, but she does not think as often about it during the day. Her intuition about Hans and Rosa does not apply to herself yet.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Liesel feels like The Grave Digger's Handbook is her last link to her brother and mother. She cannot read, but the book as an object is still important to her because of this connection, and she keeps it hidden under her bed. She feels very alone. The Hubermanns have two children, Hans Junior and Trudy, but they are both older and live elsewhere.
The book as an object is an important symbol for Liesel already. The books that Liesel steals (or is given) which divide up the novel's parts are not important because of their contents (which are hardly mentioned) but because they are unique physical symbols of the power of language.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
At school Liesel is put with much younger children because she can't read or write. There are no books in the Hubermann home, and neither Rosa nor Hans are very good at reading.
Liesel's illiteracy is first emphasized as a negative here, and a kind of powerlessness in the world of school.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
In February Liesel turns ten, and the Hubermanns give her a secondhand doll. She also has to enroll in the Hitler Youth (Band of German Girls), where they are taught to march and "heil Hitler" (salute Hitler) properly.
More facts that seem innocuous to the characters but are ominous to the reader, who is aware of the great evils Hitler caused and represented.
Themes
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
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Hans often leaves in the evenings to go play his accordion at a pub. His disappearance makes Liesel uneasy, but he always returns in time to save her from her nightmares.
Liesel already derives most of her comfort from Hans's presence. More scenes that create the feeling of a routine in the Hubermann household.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Rosa constantly argues and curses, even when there is no one to argue with. Sometimes Liesel goes with her to pick up the washing from the wealthy parts of town. Rosa insults all her customers behind their backs. When they reach the mayor's house, Rosa makes Liesel go get the clothes. The mayor's wife answers the door without speaking, and she seems strange and unhappy. Rosa tells Liesel that the mayor's wife sits inside freezing all day, and won't even light a fire.
The mayor's wife will become an important figure later, but here she is introduced only as especially strange and mysterious. Rosa has plenty of words to go around, and "saukerl" and "saumensch" quickly become part of the familiar language of Liesel's world.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
When she isn't disparaging her employers, Rosa likes to complain about her husband. She washes and irons the clothes in the kitchen, arguing the whole time. Their neighbor, Frau Holtzapfel, spits on their door whenever she walks past because of some old feud with Rosa. Liesel has to clean the spit off every night, and sometimes she lingers afterward to look at the stars.
More development of daily life on Himmel Street. Frau Holtzapfel will also become a more complex figure later, but Death does not foreshadow everything. The scene of Liesel looking at the stars implies that she is a poetic soul among prosaic surroundings.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon