The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief Part 8: The Promise Keeper's Wife Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The day before Hans leaves for the army he and Alex Steiner get drunk at a bar. Hans gets up and plays a sad song on the accordion and everyone cheers. The next morning he is passed out and Rosa has to dump cold water on him to wake him up. He leaves a few hours later, and as he says goodbye he calls Liesel "half a woman" and asks her to take care of Rosa and his accordion, and to keep reading in the raid shelter. He promises he'll play a song when he returns.
Hans leaving is an important moment in Liesel's growth, as now she must live without his constant moral example and comforting presence. It is important that his last request is for her to keep reading in the bomb shelters, as it is in those moments that she has been the most mature and giving – like Hans himself.
Themes
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Words and Language Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Alex Steiner leaves four days later, and both Rudy and Liesel are depressed. After a few days Rudy asks Liesel to follow him somewhere, and they start walking all the way out of Molching. Liesel thinks they are going to steal something, but Rudy says he is going to find Hitler and kill him. Liesel wants to go home, and they argue but finally end up walking back together. Liesel feels she is experiencing a line from A Song in the Dark that says, "my heart is so tired." As they return to Molching they walk past Alex Steiner's abandoned clothing shop, but they don't enter.
Rudy had been unknowingly subversive before just by idolizing Jesse Owens, but when Alex Steiner is drafted Rudy turns fully against the Nazis and Hitler. Like Max, Rudy makes Hitler the personal face of all his sufferings, and wants to cause him physical harm. In Rudy, Zusak is showing that even some Germans who seemed like "ideal Nazis" didn't necessarily support them.
Themes
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Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
That night Liesel wakes up and sees Rosa sitting at the foot of the bed with Hans's accordion strapped to her chest. She just sits silently in the moonlight without touching any of the keys, and Liesel recognizes the beauty of the moment. A few minutes later Rosa is back in bed and snoring again.
This is a beautiful, silent moment that stays with both Liesel and the reader – an example of beauty in the midst of sorrow, and humanity at its best.
Themes
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