The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief Part 6: Fresh Air, an Old Nightmare, and what to do with a Jewish Corpse Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One day Rudy and Liesel are by the Amper River when Liesel decides she wants to steal another book from the mayor's house. They ride their bikes around the block a few times, waiting for Ilsa Hermann to leave the kitchen. Rudy finally decides to give up (he is only interested in stealing food) but Liesel is determined to get a book. She climbs through the window and takes a book called The Dream Carrier, as the title makes her think of her own nightmares and Max's. Liesel and Rudy ride away on their bikes, and Death implies that Ilsa left the window open on purpose, hoping that Liesel would return.
Stealing books has become a method for Liesel's self-empowerment, but she also picks the books to order her own story in some way – The Whistler reminded her of Pfiffikus, and now The Dream Carrier reminds her of her own nightmares. Death creates more situational irony by revealing to the reader what Liesel doesn't know – Ilsa is aware of the book stealing, and she is purposefully allowing it to continue.
Themes
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Liesel starts reading the new book to Max. After the coma has lasted a month everyone in the house is at a breaking point, and they have to discuss what to do with Max's body if he dies. His sickness means there is more food for the rest of them, but no one mentions this. That night Liesel has her same dream of her dead brother on the train, but this time Werner's face is replaced with Max's. She wonders if this is an omen of Max's death, or if Max has replaced her brother.
The Hubermanns start to feel the strain of their sacrifice in hiding Max, but the reality is that they have a little more food while he is asleep. But even if he dies Max is still a danger to them, as they have no way to discreetly dispose of his body. Max in his unconscious state assumes the role of Liesel's brother once more.
Themes
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Eight days later Rosa finds Liesel at school, pretending that she's mad at her for losing her brush. Rosa takes her into the hall and yells at her for a while, and then whispers that Max has woken up. Liesel sits back down, overjoyed. She comes home and Max thanks her for her presents, and for reading to him. He says he is afraid of falling asleep again. That afternoon and night Liesel reads The Dream Carrier out loud to him, and nudges him awake when he falls asleep. Max sleeps in Liesel's bed a few more days, and then returns to the basement. Liesel is happy, but Death knows that bombs are coming soon.
Liesel continues to reassure both herself and Max by reading out loud, and also to strengthen her own voice – she has grown so much since she failed her reading test at school. Rosa again proves that she has a heart of gold under her prickly exterior, and that the prickliness can be useful for keeping kindness a secret. Again Death undercuts Liesel's contentment with his foreknowledge of tragedy.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
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Books Theme Icon