The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief Part 7: The Trilogy Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
While Liesel is working, Rudy trains for an upcoming Hitler Youth carnival. He wants to win gold medals in four racing events, just like Jesse Owens did in the 1936 Olympics. Rudy especially wants to show Franz Deutscher how good he is.
Rudy again needs "a win" to prove to himself that he isn't a failure, just like Liesel now steals books to cheer herself up. In some ways Rudy also wants to be subversive in the way Jesse Owens was – to beat the Nazis at their own event.
Themes
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
The carnival begins and Rudy wins the first race by a huge margin. Death points out that Rudy is now both talented at school and athletics. Rudy wins the next two races, but he gets disqualified from the fourth for false-starting. Afterwards he tells Liesel that he got himself disqualified on purpose, but he won't explain why. He lets her keep the medals, as he doesn't seem to care anymore.
Death reminds the reader that Rudy is truly (and ironically) fulfilling the role of "German ideal" with his successes now. Just as Rudy doesn't explain his purposeful disqualification, neither does Death, but he implies that Rudy had already proved to both Franz Deutscher and himself that he could achieve his goals, so he didn't even need to race.
Themes
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
That night Liesel tells Max about Rudy and then they both go back to their projects: Max to his sketchbook and Liesel to The Dream Carrier. After she finishes the book Death jumps ahead to her next stealing endeavor, as she is alone in the mayor's library. She takes a book called A Song in the Dark, mostly because it has a green cover. Then she goes off and reads it alone by the Amper River, feeling the pleasure of thievery.
Liesel continues to gain a feeling of empowerment by stealing books one at a time. The titles of the books themselves also order her own story – A Song in the Dark sums up one of the themes of the novel and Liesel's greatest strength – finding moments of happiness and creativity in the midst of fear and suffering.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
A week later, Rudy brings Liesel back up to Grande Strasse (the mayor's street) and they see that there is a book propped up in the library window. Liesel feels it is a trap or a challenge, and she can't resist. She steals the book, which is called The Complete Duden Dictionary and Thesaurus, and then she and Rudy ride away on their bikes. Liesel can't help looking back, though, and she sees Ilsa Hermann standing in the window. Ilsa waves and Liesel waves back.
Liesel starts to realize that Ilsa Hermann knows she has been stealing books, but for now Liesel accepts this as a sort of challenge. Again thievery is a way of building herself up (as it is for Rudy, too), of having a distinct goal and achieving it despite risk and hardship. The Dictionary will be important for Death's later interjections into the narrative.
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Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Get the entire The Book Thief LitChart as a printable PDF.
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Liesel and Rudy stop at the bridge and open the book, and inside is a note for Liesel from Ilsa. It says that Ilsa knows Liesel has been stealing her books, and she is welcome to continue, but she hopes Liesel will come through the front door some day. The dictionary is to help her read her stolen books.
It is clear that Frau Hermann is still lonely for her dead son, and Liesel's presence in the library had been a comfort and joy to her. She wants Liesel to return, even if it means stealing a few books in the process.
Themes
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Liesel makes Rudy wait and she returns to the mayor's house. She tries to knock on the door, and even sees her dead brother next to her telling her to knock, but she can't bring herself to do it. She returns feeling happy but guilty, and wondering if she has somehow stolen her happiness.
Liesel feels guilty again – not for stealing, but for being afraid to apologize. She is once more starting to build her own moral code of what exactly is "criminal" and what isn't.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon