The Book Thief

The Book Thief


Markus Zusak

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The Book Thief: Part 9: The Snows of Stalingrad Summary & Analysis

One day in January Liesel goes to read to Frau Holtzapfel, but her son Michael answers the door, wrapped in bloody bandages. He has been shot in the ribs and had three fingers blown off fighting in Stalingrad. Later he comes to greet the Hubermanns and during that visit tells that his brother, Robert, is dead. Michael sat with him in a hospital for his last days. Michael also said he heard that Hans Junior was in Russia as well, and still alive.
The theme of death continues with Michael Holtzapfel's return, and the fact that he randomly survived while his brother died. This will lead to more of the survivor's guilt that plagues so many characters in the novel.
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Liesel returns to Frau Holtzapfel's house to find her sitting in a state of shock. Death describes how her son, Robert, died by having is legs blown off and then suffering in a hospital. He recollects how Michael told Robert he would be going home soon just before Death took him. Liesel keeps reading while Frau Holtzapfel cries, as it feels good to be doing something in the face of such sadness.
The most poignant example yet of Liesel using her words and her books to comfort someone in the face of pain. Once again it seems that the world is huge and dark – this is a World War – and it is only through singing "songs in the dark" (like the title of Liesel's book) that hope and humanity can be maintained.
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