The Book Thief

The Book Thief

The Book Thief Part 9: One Toolbox, One Bleeder, One Bear Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Rudy's anger at the world keeps growing and he gathers a toolbox of things to help him in stealing. Liesel sees him leaving and catches up with him. She asks him about the teddy bear (which is in his toolbox) and Rudy says it is to comfort a child if one finds him stealing. They keep walking and Liesel realizes Rudy had intended to rob the mayor's house, but he has already lost his conviction. When they get to Gelb Strasse Rudy sits down and decides he is "better at leaving things behind than stealing them."
Rudy tries to cheer himself up by stealing again, hoping for another "win," but most of his attempted crimes fail because of his own natural compassion. Rudy doesn't want to hurt anyone except Hitler and the Nazis – he just wants to take some kind of control over the mad world he finds himself in. He now accepts his own giving nature and stops trying to make himself into a criminal.
Themes
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
A few weeks later the air raid sirens go off again, and Michael Holtzapfel comes to the Hubermanns saying his mother won't leave the kitchen table. Rosa goes inside and curses at Frau Holtzapfel, but it does no good. Rosa and Michael are ready to get in the shelter, but Liesel stays to tell Frau Holtzapfel that she'll stop reading to her if she doesn't come. Then they all run to the bomb shelter, but Frau Holtzapfel stays behind.
Michael still wants to live, a fact that fills him with constant guilt, but it seems that Frau Holtzapfel no longer cares about surviving. She also puts everyone trying to help her in danger by staying out of the shelter. Liesel chooses her words carefully, trying to be like Hans – harsh for someone's greater good.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
In the shelter, Michael feels guilty for still wanting to live when his brother is dead and his mother wants to die. Suddenly Frau Holtzapfel appears and starts to tending to Michael's bleeding hand. Liesel reads out loud throughout the long night.
Michael's guilt increases even more here, as he can't understand why he still wants to live when his mother doesn't. Liesel again comforts everyone with a book.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Words and Language Theme Icon
Books Theme Icon
When everyone emerges from the shelter, someone points out a crashed plane near the Amper River. Rudy runs towards it even as Death himself comes for the pilot. Liesel catches up with Rudy and they survey the fire, the wreckage, and the pilot, who is still barely alive. Liesel comes closer and she and Death recognize each other. Death is impressed that she looks at him and doesn't look away. Meanwhile Rudy climbs towards the dying pilot and places the teddy bear on his shoulder, and the pilot thanks him in English.
Rudy obviously doesn't see the pilot as an enemy, which means that his anger regarding his father and the war is directed more at Hitler than at Germany's enemies. Rudy's basic compassion comes through again as he gives a gift to a dying man. Death appears, and the reader is reminded of the scene described in the prologue. Rudy delivering the bear is an example of one of those moments of beauty that justify human life to Death.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Color, Beauty, and Ugliness Theme Icon
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Death takes the pilot's soul and he sees the sky eclipse with the shape of a swastika. Death wonders how humans could be so beautiful and ugly both at the same time, but he still envies their ability to die.
Death sees both the horror of war and the kindness of a child with a teddy bear at the same time, and he wonders at the contradictions in humans.
Themes
Death Theme Icon
Stealing and Giving Theme Icon
Color, Beauty, and Ugliness Theme Icon