In the seventy-third to seventy-sixth chapters of The Book Thief, we finally learn how Hans cheats death, what happens to him because of this event, and how Liesel and Rudy witness something terrifying. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to read The Book Thief.
I canâ€™t believe Iâ€™m going to be done with this book, and very, very soon.
I certainly didnâ€™t expect most of whatâ€™s happened here, from the tone, to the narrator, to the way the story has developed, to Markus Zusakâ€™s style. Itâ€™s been a pleasant and satisfying experience and, thankfully, a complete departure from The Hunger Games. (Thatâ€™s not a criticism. I am just glad this book is so different from the last one.)
And yet I am sad that this is coming to an end. This book has kept me on my toes and forced me to do things differently with my writing and the way I present it. I have enjoyed that.
All things must come to an end.
CH. 73: THE ACCIDENT
The name of this chapter just feels like a judgment in and of itself, a statement that confirms we will finally learn what it is that happened that allowed Hans Hubermann to cheat Death a second time. I also know that this is how Reinhold Zucker will die, so despite knowing that Hans survives, I was still anxious to see how this would unfold.
It was a surprisingly clear afternoon and the men were climbing into the truck. Hans Hubermann has just sat down in his appointed seat. Reinhold Zucker was standing above him.
â€œMove it,â€ he said.
â€œBitte? Excuse me?â€
Zucker was hunched beneath the vehicleâ€™s ceiling. â€œI said move it, Arschloch.â€ The greasy jungle of his fringe fell in clumps onto his forehead. â€œIâ€™m swapping seats with you.â€
And now we know the full context of why Death insisted on telling us about Reinholdâ€™s card playing, his bitter anger at Hans, because it led to this very moment: switching seats with Hans Hubermann.
Hans was quickly aware that the rest of the unit was already watching this pitiful struggle between two supposed grown men. He didnâ€™t want to lose, but he didnâ€™t want to be petty, either. Also, theyâ€™d just finished a tiring shift and he didnâ€™t have the energy to go on with it. Bent-backed, he made his way forward to the vacant seat in the middle of the truck.
Sometimes the smallest details produce the most horrifyingly huge results. Hans has no idea what he just did. Eerie.
The olive green truck was on its way toward the camp, maybe ten miles away. Brunnenweg was telling a joke about a French waitress when the left front wheel was punctured and the driver lost control. The vehicle rolled many times and the men swore as they tumbled with the air, the light, the trash, and the tobacco. Outside, the blue sky changed from ceiling to floor as they clambered for something to hold.
Doesnâ€™t this section almost feel like an official witness report or something? Zusak cycles through the details of the crash with a machine-like automation, and itâ€™s yet another example of this matter-of-fact tone that makes things so much more creepier than they could have been.
When it stopped, they were all crowded onto the right-hand wall of the truck, their faces wedged against the filthy uniform next to them. Questions of health were pased around until one of the men, Eddie Alma, started shouting, â€œGet this bastard off me!â€ He said it three times, fast. He was staring into Reinhold Zuckerâ€™s blinkless eyes.
The fact that Eddieâ€™s last name is â€œAlma,â€ which is Spanish for â€œsoul,â€ is not lost on me, even if itâ€™s unintentional. Death is coming to collect a soul, and itâ€™s not Hans Hubermannâ€™s. Again.
* * * THE DAMAGE, ESSEN * * *
Six men burned by cigarettes.
Two broken hands.
Several broken fingers.
A broken leg for Hans Hubermann.
A broken neck for Reinhold Zucker,
snapped almost in line with his earlobes.
That last part makes Hansâ€™s line about the air going â€œstraight through [his] earsâ€ so eerily prophetic. This is not lost on the man who has now cheated Death twice through sheer luck.
Over by a tree, a thin strip of intense pain was still opening in Hans Hubermannâ€™s leg. â€œIt should have been me,â€ he said.
â€œWhat?â€ the sergeant called over from the truck.
â€œHe was sitting in my seat.â€
Iâ€™ve never come this close to death. (I think! I may have, but never knew I did.) I canâ€™t imagine the sensation of knowing a decision I made just a few minutes earlier saved my life. I just got a chill running over my skin thinking about it.
No ambulance arrives for Reinhold, and the men climb into their replacement truck with the corpse of Reinhold Zucker, his mouth wide open still, and they place him on the floor.
A few times, some of them simply forgot and rested their feet on the body. Once they arrived, they all tried to avoid the task of pulling him out. When the job was done, Hans Hubermann took a few abbreviated steps before the pain fractured in his leg and brought him down.
So what does this all mean for Hans? I thought when I read this. A broken leg? Was the German army desperate enough to keep him on regardless? I honestly believed so, that weâ€™d read about Hans put through more suffering despite his broken leg.
An hour later, when the doctor examined him, he was told it was definitely broken. The sergeant was on hand and stood with half a grin.
â€œWell, Hubermann. Looks like youâ€™ve got away with it, doesnâ€™t it?â€ He was shaking his round face, smoking, and he provided a list of what would happen next. â€œYouâ€™ll rest up. Theyâ€™ll ask me what we should do with you. Iâ€™ll tell them you did a great job.â€ He blew some more smoke. â€œAnd I think Iâ€™ll tell them youâ€™re not fit for the LSE anymore and you should be sent back to Munich to work in an office to do whatever cleaning up needs doing there. How does that sound?â€
Unable to resist a laugh within the grimace of pain, Hans replied, â€œIt sounds good, Sergeant.â€
OH MY GOD YES!!!!!!!!! HANS IS COMING HOME!
Boris Schipper finished his cigarette. â€œDamn right it sounds good. Youâ€™re lucky I like you, Hubermann. Youâ€™re lucky youâ€™re a good man, and generous with the cigarettes.â€
While luck certainly played a part, I was struck by how disingenuous this statement might actually have been to Hans. Hans was lucky to be good; he was good. And maybe his path through The Book Thief is all about his goodness came to save his life. All of the choices he made to end up in the truck really werenâ€™t luck at all. They were the result of his unending compassion and caring attitude.
Hell, luck really has nothing to do with it.
CH. 74: THE BITTER TASTE OF QUESTIONS
Itâ€™s a belated birthday present of sorts, but just over a week after she turns fourteen, the first truly detailed letter from Hans arrives. I like that it takes Hans to be sent home for his personality to return to his letters.
She ran inside from the mailbox and showed it to Mama. Rosa made her read it aloud, and they could not contain their excitement when Liesel read about his broken leg. She was stunned to the extent that she mouthed the next sentence only to herself.
â€œWhat is it?â€ Rosa pushed. â€œSaumensch?â€
Liesel looked up from the letter and was close to shouting. The sergeant had been true to his word. â€œHeâ€™s coming home, Mama. Papaâ€™s coming home!â€
I just felt this wave of joy wash over me, despite this is the third time Iâ€™ve read this particular section. I never expected Hans to come home, period, and certainly not this early. AHHHHHHHHHH PLEASE LET NOTHING HAPPEN TO HIM ON THE WAY HOME.
A broken leg was certainly something to celebrate.
RIGHT. Never has a shattered bone brought me such joy.
I didnâ€™t understand why such a joyous announcement would have such a negative chapter title, but thatâ€™s because I didnâ€™t know that Rosa and Liesel took their joy to the Steiner house.
Rudy smiled and laughed, and Liesel could see that he was at least trying. However, she could also sense the bitter taste of questions in his mouth.
Why Hans Hubermann and not Alex Steiner?
He had a point.
Oh, poor Rudy. Ugh. Now Iâ€™m worried Alex wonâ€™t return home at all.
CH. 75: ONE TOOLBOX, ONE BLEEDER, ONE BEAR
Since his fatherâ€™s recruitment to the army the previous October, Rudyâ€™s anger had been growing nicely. The news of Hans Hubermannâ€™s return was all he needed to take it a few steps further. He did not tell Liesel about it. There was no complaining that it wasnâ€™t fair. His decision was to act.
He carried a metal case up Himmel Street at the typical thieving time of darkening afternoon.
That worry I held so many chapters ago just creeped back rapidly. Of the two of them, Rudy always seemed to be a bit more serious about his theft. Liesel always wanted books and not much else, and I felt she went along with Rudy on their earlier raids mostly because he was the one with her. But now, on his own, Rudy wants to steal and do so entirely by himself.
His thieving kit, an old red toolbox, is equipped with some legit tools to break into houses, though I was pretty confused as to why heâ€™d bring a fresh pair of socks and a teddy bear. I mean, I love clean socks more than most things (not time travel), but where was he planning on going?
Content to leave Liesel out of this, Rudy doesnâ€™t plan on Liesel witnessing him strolling down Himmel Street with a terrifying sense of purpose on his face. When she runs to catch up with him, he makes it clear that he is doing this for himself for once.
â€œYou know something, Liesel, I was thinking. Youâ€™re not a thief at all,â€ and he didnâ€™t even give her a chance to reply. â€œThat woman lets you in. She even leaves you cookies, for Christâ€™s sake. I donâ€™t call that stealing. Stealing is what the army does. Taking your father, and mine.â€ He kicked a stone and it clanged against a gate. He walked faster. â€œAll those rich Nazis up there, on Grande Strasse, Gelb Strasse, Heide Strasse.â€
Well, this is going to be a disaster, isnâ€™t it? Rudy is headed straight to the richest residents of Molching and heâ€™s going to steal from them, isnâ€™t he? Every time something like this happens, I canâ€™t help but think that one of these things are going to be the thing that leads to his death. Though, I suppose, like Hans, Rudy has always been living and acting towards his death, and it wonâ€™t all make sense until I arrive at that final moment.
â€œHow does it feel, anyway?â€
â€œHow does what feel?â€
â€œWhen you take one of those books?â€
At that moment, she chose to keep still. If he wanted an answer, heâ€™d have to come back, and he did. â€œWell?â€ But again, it was Rudy who answered, before Liesel could even open her mouth. â€œIt feels good, doesnâ€™t? To steal something back.â€
As reckless as Rudy might be, I at least understand this desire and I get that this is what he needs to do to have some semblance of control in his life, especially since so much has been taken from him and his family.
As they kept walking, Rudy explained the toolbox at length, and what he would do with each item. For example, the hammers were for smashing windows and the towel was to wrap them up, to quell the sound.
â€œAnd the teddy bear?â€
It belonged to Anna-Marie Steiner and was no bigger than one of Lieselâ€™s books. The fur was shaggy and worn. The eyes and ears had been sewn back on repeatedly, but it was friendly looking nonetheless.
â€œThat,â€ answered Rudy, â€œis the one masterstroke. Thatâ€™s if a kid walks in while Iâ€™m inside. Iâ€™ll give it to them to calm them down.â€
HAHAHAAHAHA RUDY. Oh my god, that is so ridiculous, but I love it. I mean, really, itâ€™s not a good plan at all, but itâ€™s somehow utterly brilliant.
It wasnâ€™t until fifteen minutes later, when Liesel watched the sudden silence on his face, that she realized Rudy Steiner wasnâ€™t stealing anything. The commitment had disappeared, and although he still watched the imagined glory of stealing, she could see that now he was not believing it. He was trying to believe it, and thatâ€™s never a good sign. His criminal greatness was unfurling before his eyes, and as the footsteps slowed and they watched the houses, Lieselâ€™s relief was pure and sad inside her.
I like that Zusak contrasts those two emotions, Lieselâ€™s relief and her sadness. Sheâ€™s relieved that Rudy hasnâ€™t gone through with his plan because she cares about his safety. But to watch his determination die so quickly is disheartening, and she canâ€™t be happy about it.
â€œWhat am I waiting for?â€ he asked, but Liesel didnâ€™t reply. Again, Rudy opened his mouth, but without any words.
Maybe the idea of stealing is better than the act in this case. Maybe Rudy is too full of fear and he doesnâ€™t want to pursue that anymore. I canâ€™t pretend to know anything about this. Iâ€™m just guessing at this point, but I also have to admit Iâ€™m a bit sad that Rudy doesnâ€™t steal from the rich Nazis on Gelb Strasse, even though I was so worried early on.
* * * THE SPOKEN TRUTH * * *
OF RUDY STEINER
â€œI guess Iâ€™m better at leaving
things behind than stealing them.â€
And perhaps thatâ€™s why he didnâ€™t need to steal at that moment: he needed to leave behind his righteous anger behind instead of keeping it inside.
Surprisingly, the chapter takes a sharp turn to the night of March 9, 1943, the next air raid in Molching. As everyone heads out to go to their assigned air raid shelter, Michale Holtzapfel arrives at 33 Himmel Street to inform Rosa Hubermann that his mother is sitting at the kitchen table and refuses to move.
As the weeks had worn on, Frau Holtzapfel had not yet begun to recover. When Liesel came to read, the woman spent most of the time staring at the window. Her words were quiet, close to motionless. All brutality and reprimand were wrestled from her face. It was usually Michael who said goodbye to Liesel or gave her the coffee and thanked her. Now this.
Iâ€™m so amazed how Markus Zusak has brought the war to Himmel Street when there are so few moments where the war is physically ever there. The war has torn Frau Holtzapfelâ€™s life apart. I sort of feel bad for Michael, since he survived, but heartbreak works in different ways for different people. For Frau Holtzapfel, sheâ€™s done. The war can physically arrive in Molching and it wonâ€™t make a difference to her. Itâ€™s already killed her. (That made me sad just typing it.)
I love that Rosa goes immediately to what she thinks is familiar for her neighbor, the one who used to spit on her door: She insults her. When that doesnâ€™t work, both her and Michael are stumped, and Liesel takes the opportunity to run inside of the house, stopping when she spots Frau Holtzapfel sitting motionless at the kitchen table.
What exactly do you say to someone who has given up like this? Liesel hears her mother tell her to leave the woman alone.
â€œIf she wants to die, thatâ€™s her business.â€
But Liesel doesnâ€™t leave:
* * * THE OPTIONS * * *
â€œFrau Holtzapfel, we have to go.â€
â€œFrau Holtzapfel, weâ€™ll die if we stay here.â€
â€œYou still have one son left.â€
â€œEveryoneâ€™s waiting for you.”
â€œThe bombs will blow your head off.â€
â€œIf you donâ€™t come, Iâ€™ll stop coming to read
to you, and that means youâ€™ve lost your only friend.â€
She went with the last sentence, calling the words directly through the sirens. Her hands were planted on the table.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I think Liesel is so much more perceptive than she gives herself credit for, and here, she recognizes that this is probably the only sentence she could speak to Frau Holtzapfel that would get her to move. Itâ€™s brutal, yes, but it just might work.
The woman looked up and made her decision. She didnâ€™t move.
Liesel left. She withdrew herself from the table and rushed from the house.
Completely unexpected and so goddamn heart-wrenching. This always seems to work in movies and books: You say the right thing, even if itâ€™s uncomfortable, and the other person snaps out of it.
But not Frau Holtzapfel. And that fills me with an unbelievable sadness.
As they run towards number forty-five, Michael hesitates a bit, but Frau Holtzapfel never materializes at the door. Thereâ€™s no hope left. I believed that the bombs would fall on Molching and she would die, no doubt.
In the far corner of the shelter, Michael was cramped and shivery. â€œI should have stayed,â€ he said, â€œI should have stayed, I should have stayed â€¦â€ His voice was close to noiseless, but his eyes were louder than ever.
Rosa is the one to assure him that this is not his fault, that he had to leave if that was his motherâ€™s decision.
â€œTell me something,â€ he said, â€œbecause I donâ€™t understand â€¦.â€ He fell back and sat against the wall. â€œTell me, Rosa, how she can sit there ready to die while I still want to live.â€ The blood thickened. â€œWhy do I want to live? I shouldnâ€™t want to, but I do.â€
Well, goddamn. This all seriously feels like the end of the book, even though I know there are fifty pages or so left, but the finality and the futility of this all is getting to me.
The young man wept uncontrollably with Rosaâ€™s hand on his shoulder for many minutes. The rest of the people watched. He could not make himself stop even when the basement door opened and shut and Frau Holtzapfel entered the shelter.
Her son looked up.
Rosa stepped away.
Liesel, I love you so much. YOU ARE MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. I mean, it had to be her words, right? Oh god, this book is PLAYING WITH MY EMOTIONS.
Death injects himself a bit into the narrative and his words fill me with dread:
Far away, fires were burning and I had picked up just over two hundred murdered souls.
I was on my way to Molching for one more.
Oh, fucking hell. Itâ€™s going to be Rudy, isnâ€™t it?
The chapter switches again to a new perspective, as one of the Steiner girls notices a trail of smoke out near the Amper River. Usually, Zusak focus on one person or event in a chapter, and here, this lengthy chapter constantly changes its focus, leading to me feeling urgent and disoriented. Rudy does not hesitate in this moment of awe and confusion, as he grips his red toolbox tighter and begins to spring towards the Amper River, with Liesel in tow.
Liesel could only see the toolbox in certain gaps in the trees as he made his way through to the dying glow and the misty plane. It say smoking in the clearing by the river. The pilot had tried to land there.
Is this it? I thought. Is this how Rudy dies? Or was the reference to one more soul meant for the pilot?
Death arrives and I believe itâ€™s the first time he mentions seeing Rudy in person. I felt less like Rudy was Deathâ€™s target, but I wondered what was going to happen as he and Liesel moved closer to the crash.
Rudy circled slowly, from the tail and around to the right.
â€œThereâ€™s glass,â€ he said. â€œThe windshield is everywhere.â€
Then he saw the body.
I mean, itâ€™s hard not to think of Stand By Me / The Body during this scene, but in The Book Thief, the story veers off in a completely different direction. Faced with a dying man before them, Rudy and Liesel are shocked into silence. However, Death interrupts to insist that Liesel recognized him. Iâ€™m still intrigued by the concept of Death in this book, so I assume that he doesnâ€™t mean he has a physical form. Perhaps she is familiar with the feeling because Death came for Warner when she was on that train.
She did not back away or try to fight me, but I know that something told the girl I was there. Could she smell my breath? Could she hear my cursed circular heartbeat, revolving like the crime it is in my deathly chest? I donâ€™t know, but she knew me and she looked me in my face and she did not look away.
Seriously, all I could think of during this is that this book would be impossible to make into a movie. How do you put a scene like into a film? We don’t even know if Death has a form, so how could you visually replicate this?
Rudy–brave, courageous Rudy–reaches into his toolbox, takes out the teddy bear he had planned to use for his thieving, and places it at his shoulder.
The dying man breathed it in. He spoke. In English, he said, â€œThank you.â€ His straight-line cuts opened as he spoke, and a small drop of blood rolled crookedly down his throat.
â€œWhat?â€ Rudy asked him. â€œWas hast du gesagt? What did you say?â€
Unfortunately, I beat him to the answer. The time was there and I was reaching into the cockpit. I slowly extracted the pilotâ€™s soul from his ruffled uniform and rescued him from the broken plan. The crowd played with the silence as I made my way through. I jostled free.
As Death moves away from the scene, leaving Rudy and Liesel with a dead body, he further elaborates on his â€œcircular heartbeatâ€ that heâ€™d mentioned earlier. Time is not a straight line for Death. Itâ€™s a circle.
…I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Having just witnessed 200 examples of the worst of humanity, Death canâ€™t help but comment that heâ€™s also just seen the best of humanity in Rudy Steiner. That contrast will be with him forever.
CH. 76: HOMECOMING
We learn that in the beginning of April, Hans has healed enough to come home for a week before he has to head to Munich to work a desk job.
It was dark when he arrived home. It was a day later than expected, as the train was delayed due to an air-raid scare. He stood at the door of 33 Himmel Street and made a fist.
Four years earlier, Liesel Meminger was coaxed through that doorway when she showed up for the first time. Max Vandenburg had stood there with a key biting into his hand. Now it was Hans Hubermannâ€™s turn. He knocked four times and the book thief answered.
What a beautiful, haunting parallel, a way to show how 33 Himmel Street has come to provide a place of shelter and love for so many people. Hansâ€™s homecoming is not told with much fanfare, as Zusak rushes through it, but I donâ€™t need to know the details. The details are not important. Hans Hubermann is finally home.
At 1 a.m., Liesel went to bed and Papa came in to sit with her, like he used to. She woke up several times to check that he was there, and he did not fail her.
The night was calm.
Her bed was warm and soft with contentment.
Again, I will take the joy when it comes, and Iâ€™m hogging it right now. Hans Hubermann is home.
Yes, it was a great night to be Liesel Meminger, and the calm, the warm, and the soft would remain for approximately three more months.
But her story lasts for six.
WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS MEAN. Jesus christ, what happens in three months? WHAT HAPPENS AFTER SIX MONTHS.
OH GOD FOREVER UNPREPARED.
Best use of a happy gif ever!
No one was prepared when they started this book……
TRUTH. Even re-reading it, I was unprepared.
I've been hearing Mark mention that show for a longggg time now, and I'd never heard of it nor watched it. I was house/kid-sitting a month ago, and the kids had it DVRed! So I watched a few episodes with them, and now I recognize that gif. Just FYI 🙂
Hans Huberman broke his leg! Move over Trelawney, I am a true seer! (Or I managed to pick out Death's little details. Whatever). Honestly, even though I predicted that Hans would break his leg and come home, I didn't think there was any happiness left in this book. So it was nice to get that feeling of hope and joy back, however temporary it might be.
As soon as Rudy mentioned the teddy bear, I knew we were going to see the second death, the black one. I thought it would happen when Rudy went thieving, so I was a bit surprised that it didn't happen until after the air raid. Way to keep me on my toes Zusak. Mark, you mention that this chapter was a bit all over the place, but I think that teddy bear ties it together. It opens with the introduction of the teddy bear and closes with Rudy giving it away. And he has it with him throughout the chapter. A symbol of childhood, perhaps?
I'm not entirely sure I understand Death's circular heartbeat metaphor. Maybe I'm taking it a bit too literally. I always saw all heartbeats as circular, ever since we dissected a goat heart in second grade and learned about the circulatory system. The name of the system implies a circle. I think I like Mark's explanation that time is circular for Death. But I'm not even sure I understand it that way. Death doesn't travel in a circle so much as manages to be everywhere he needs to be. Did anyone else have thoughts on this?
Only six more months. Now I'm just dreading Rudy's death. His has to be the red death. But why does Liesel's story only last six more months? Does she die too? Does everyone? I'm so scared.
I like watching you guys speculate. It's hilarious and frustrating when you guys guess correctly, or you're just short of the truth, because I just want you to get there already. Good job playing detective with Death's spoilers!
I think you're right about the teddy bear being tied to Rudy's growing maturity in the chapter. At first, he takes it with him as part of an odd, juvenile revenge plan, which falls apart, but turns into preparedness for his family's stay in the air raid shelter, and then finally a way of comforting a dying man. He's gone from using it for selfish reasons, to thinking about his family's needs, and then the needs of a stranger and enemy. Rudy's confused and growing up.
The best sense I could make of the circular vs linear heartbeats is that for us humans, we only have a certain amount of heartbeats, one following the other, until we die. But Death's heart is beating always, everywhere, endlessly. There's no first beat or last beat; he works and his heart beats infinitely.
Thanks for expanding on the teddy bear/childhood metaphor. You articulated it better than I would have been able to.
I like the idea of Death having no beginning or end like a circle. That makes a bit more sense to me. Though something can be linear and still infinite, so I was getting tripped up there. I'll have to forgive Zusak his fumbling of math terms if this is what he was going for (and I probably just messed up a football term)
Agreed, I love the way you've described the teddy bear metaphor.
I remember being so angry at being spoiled about Rudy's death. It made me into a paranoid freak… Every subsequent chapter, I would spaz into irrational panic attacks, "Is this it?!? Is he going to die now?!?!?! I CAN'T HANDLE THIS!!!!!!" I just knew that this plane crash would be the time Death would take him and frankly, I just wanted to put the book down and stop reading. Zusak had me in an emotional choke-hold for the rest of the book. How I loved it though.
So, so, so happy Hansi is home.
So, so, so unprepared.
Hans is like the Atticus Finch of fiction dads; his kind awesomeness knows no bounds.
So so so so glad he's back with Liesel and Rosa. =)
Isn't Atticus Finch the Atticus Finch of fiction dads?
He set the standard for fiction dads. =)
Rudy has such a big heart. I love that kid. I still don't understand about the socks, though…
Really feeling for Michael Holtzapfel. 🙁
In other news: HANS IS COMING HOME!!!!
I also was puzzled when I read about the socks in the toolbox. But considering how often Rudy had seen Liesel taking her shoes off before she entered the Mayor's house it made perfect sense to bring spare socks.
Hans is home! And yeah, I was certain Frau Holtzapfel wasn't going to come and I thought she'd die, but it's all okay. It's not like the bombs hit Himmel Street anyway.
I hope you love the rest of the book. It's just spectacular.
Hans is home! Yay!
Hooray for illustrated explanations! Pictures make things much easier to understand, so thank you.
Your drawings remind me of learning about the properties of light in physics classes. So now I'm just going to assume that death is like unpolarized light (comes from the sun/lightbulb, goes everywhere) and humans are basically laser beams (stuck on our path). Not a perfect interpretation, but I think it can work. It sort of reminds me of the aliens describing the main character in Slaughterhouse Five (which I haven't read in several years and remember very little of)
The idea of Death getting an extra dimension to exist in is interesting, too. I think that might help me understand this most of all – using the circle to illustrate that extra dimension. So at any given instance in time, a human heartbeat is a point (1D), but Death's is a circle (2D), which helps explain him being everywhere at once in addition to last forever. Sorry for the nerd rant.
I think the "circle has no end bit' is what Zusak was going for. I got tripped up because lines also have no beginning or end. If they do, they're line segments. So I wasn't seeing a real distinction between death and humans in this metaphor. Thanks for your drawings!
The brief joys in this book are just so damn beautiful.
You're very close to the end now. Obviously I can't say anything, so let me just give you hugs. Many, many, infinite hugs.
Okay, so last week I was thinking of posting some of the different covers The Book Thief had, but somebody ended up posting a link to what seemed like all of them! (More than I'd ever found anyways) But I'd forgotten I had found something else in my searches – a mock cover for the book found here http://cargocollective.com/victoriadokas. Since there hasn't been any fan art so far and I still hadn't put the information I gathered from that post to the test, I thought I'd show it here.
Remember this, from the wonderful days when Max was around? :
"'The sky is blue today, Max, and there is a big long cloud, and it's stretched out, like a rope. At the end of it, the sun is like a yellow hole….'" "On the wall, he painted a long, tightly knotted rope with a dripping yellow sun at the end of it, as if you could dive right into it."
<img src="paste-url-here"> ;http://c573862.r62.cf0.rackcdn.com/1/0/16733/256329/book_thief_version2.jpg
I hope that worked. I can never think of anything insightful to say about the book in your posts, it's such a visceral, emotional experience, and even though I know there's things to think about, I can only ever seem to feel them.
well, I guess that didn't work, if you go to the first link and scroll down though, you can see it.
Hmmm, let me try one more time
<img src="paste-url-here"> ;http://c573862.r62.cf0.rackcdn.com/1/0/16733/256329/book_thief_version2.jpg
I went and found it, and it was beautiful. That's such a strong image from the book. Did you find this, or are you the artist? (Either way, thanks for sharing).
Oh I definitely found it (through google image search), I'm not talented enough to make something so beautiful. It's really is an image/description that sticks with you, a perfect choice for the book.
So, so unprepared.
It is a good thing you cannot see my face, because I have no poker face whatsoever, and every time you guess right/wrong you would know.
I am just in awe at the ability of Zusak to make everything so very, very happy and so very, very heartbreaking at the same time.
Also, I will love Rudy forever and ever until the end of time. Why does he have to die?
Have you ever considered that Death might be female? Death is so gentle and caring. She feels… female to me.
There was a lot of discussion of Death's gender in the comments of the early chapters of this book. I think everyone sees him/her differently based on culture and life experiences, in addition to how one reads the text. I can definitely see where s/he comes across as more masculine or feminine. Personally I tend toward a masculine incarnation because this Death reminds me greatly of the Death in the Discworld series, who is definitely referred to as male. But I also hesitate to assign a gender to Death at all. And in this case I default to "he", because there isn't a good genderless pronoun to use (that I'm aware of).
All that to say, yes I believe people have considered male and female Deaths, and I don't think you're alone in viewing Death as female.
The Death in The Sandman comics is female, and for the Death in that universe it fits. I however generally see Death as TRULY genderless/dual gendered. However, the voice of this Death seems male to me- but that just might be the form it's taken to tell this story.
"Seriously, all I could think of during this is that this book would be impossible to make into a movie. How do you put a scene like into a film? We don’t even know if Death has a form, so how could you visually replicate this?"
So, in a movie, who would play Death?? Rob Zombie? Morgan Freeman? Helena Bonham Carter?
"His voice was close to noiseless, but his eyes were louder than ever."
Perfect <3 I absolutely love Zusak's writing.
Now listening to the gummy bear song to entertain my lil’ cousin 😀 I’m dancing along too.Good thing no one could see me ;D
[WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.
Hahahaha, I remember that song! From the cartoon, right?
What a good way to lighten up from the emotional rollercoaster that is The Book Thief
I just thought I’d mention that yesterday was Holocaust commemoration day, Yom HaShoah. I went to a commemoration ceremony because my son was singing in a choir. It was solemn and beautiful as we commemorated with words and I thought of this book. Some survivors told their and others’ stories. This poem was read out.
I never saw another butterfly . . .
The last, the very last,
so richly, brightly, dazzling yellow.
Perhaps if the sun’s tears sing
against a white stone . . .
Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly `way up high.
It went away I’m sure because it
wished to kiss the world goodbye.
For seven weeks I’ve lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto,
but I have found my people here.
The dandelions call to me,
And the white chestnut candles in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live here in the ghetto.
— Pavel Friedman, June 1942
The writer of it died in Aushwitz at about 22. I thought of Max and the yellow sun. It’s almost impossible and so heart crushing, to imagine so many people, my people, taken from among their own people (like Max was German and then suddenly he wasn’t), herded onto trains with no known destination, all the while clinging to hope that these were their own people after all, and then they were just slaughtered. But the legacy is survival and rebirth and to learn and remember.
What a beautiful and touching poem to be part of what sounds like a lovely ceremony. Thank you for posting it.
That's a great theory. Though it contradicts mine, because I thought that if death was tied to humanity (like he has a human-like shape and now a heart) then death would have an end eventually once all of humanity died. And that there would be separate deaths for other creatures, like in Discworld. Still, it makes sense. Of course death could evolve along with humanity. Maybe it just changed shape as evolution progressed and will continue to do so. Then both of our theories can get along.
That's an interesting idea…that once humanity was gone, Death would cease to exist. I like the idea that they'd be intrinsically linked.
It would be too bad for this particular version of Death though, he seems so weary of his work, I almost wish that once we're all gone he would have some choice and could go about doing something else.
Ever since Rudy joined the HJ’s Flieger Division I had feared that this plane would be a german fighter and Kurt Steiner would be it’s pilot, because Rudy’s older brother had to have some connection to the Flieger Division or the Luftwaffe. I’m relieved that we passed this point and Kurt is still alive. But I’m also terrified, because now Rudy can die every minute. I still hope this will not happen before the last chapter.
Now I wonder why no other crewmen are mentioned. If this is a bomber, there should be at least three or four men in or near the cockpit. But the pilot is speaking english, and in the prologue, the plane seems to have two engines (“Smoke was leaking from both its lungs”), so this may be one of the allied long-range fighters that protected the bombers. (German Me-110 long range fighters also used as rarad-equipped night-fighters had two engines, but also at least two crewmen).
I hope that Liesel will live for more than six months, but her story can not be told further because Death lost contact and didn’t meet her again.
lol thanks. You 2.